July 26, 2011

Suit Claims Philosophy Course Was Unconstitutional Instruction In Christian Apologetics

In an unusual case, a student at Arizona's Paradise Valley Community College last week filed a lawsuit charging that the instructor in a Philosophy course (Introduction to Ethics) "failed to teach the Philosophy Class according to the Course Description and instead taught her own Christian worldview."  

The complaint (full text) in Smith v. State of Arizona, (D AZ, filed 7/20/2011), claims that the course instructor, Adjunct Professor Kelly Burton, assigned for the course a portion of a book written by another instructor at the community college: Surrendra Gangadean, Philosophical Foundation: A Critical Analysis of Basic Beliefs. It is alleged that the assigned chapters were theological and present the author's view of Moral Law rather than the theories of philosophers promised by the course description. 

The suit claims that the course is in fact  one in Christian Apologetics, and that  teaching it violates the Establishment Clause as well as Art. 2, Sec. 12 of the Arizona Constitution banning use of public funds for religious instruction. The complaint also alleges breach of an implied contract.


H/T Howard Friedman


Anonymous said...

What is truly concerning is the fact that the professors accused in this suit, Surrendra Gangadean and Kelli Burton, are using these classes to recruit students to their fundamentalist sect, Westminster Fellowship. Their secretive "church" is almost entirely made up of current and former students of these "philosophy" classes. They conduct interviews with students who seem receptive to the ideology taught in these classes in order to assess whether they will be invited to join their cult/sect. Despite numerous complaints, the school refuses to address these clearly illegal ethics violations. It's outrageous!

Paul Baird said...

I was approached by a former student of Gangadeans last year after my first debate with Sye Tenbruggencate. He mentioned the issues with the philosophy classes then, so this has all been going on for quite a while.