Troy University Chancellor Sends Out Anti-Atheist Message to Students and Staff at End of Year

Jack Hawkins Chancellor of Troy University

Jack Hawkins
Chancellor of Troy University

By Elaine Magliaro

David Ferguson of Raw Story reported earlier this week that the group American Atheists had blasted “an Alabama university official for sending out a fear-mongering anti-atheist video to students” at the end of the year. On December 30th, Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins sent out a mass email with a link to a Clay Christensen video to “every student and staff member at the public institution.” Ferguson said the video “disparaged atheists and non-religious people as a menace to American society.”

Clay Christensen on Religious Freedom

This is the message that accompanied the video:

Dear Trojans:

As we approach a New Year I am reminded of the blessings we enjoy within a democracy which is the envy of the world.

For your pleasure — and as a reminder — I am sharing with you a 90 second video which speaks to America’s greatness and its vulnerability.

May your New Year be blessed!

Jack Hawkins
Chancellor

In his video, Christensen said that Americans follow the law “because they had come to believe that they weren’t just accountable to society, they were accountable to God.” He added that he was beset by a “vague nagging feeling that as religion loses its influence in the lives of Americans, what will happen to our democracy? Where are the institutions that are going to teach the next generation of Americans that they, too, need to voluntarily choose to obey the laws?” Christensen continued, “Because if you take away religion, you can’t hire enough police.”

American Atheists has called upon Chancellor Hawkins to issue an apology for emailing the video “that drew a connection between religion and democracy.” David Silverman, President of American Atheists, wrote an open letter to Hawkins on December 31st. Silverman said that he was contacting Hawkins on behalf “of a Troy University student, who is concerned about a video you sent to all students and staff in your end-of-year email on December 30.” Silverman noted that the “video asserts that religion, particularly Judeo-Christian beliefs, are necessary to be moral, law-abiding citizens, and implies that those who do not attend church will be anti-democracy and anti-social members of society.”

Silverman added:

Atheists are not a trivial minority. In Alabama alone, we represent 11% of the population, and statistically even higher numbers in universities and among college-aged residents; as many as 32% of people under age 30 are not religious.

On behalf of the student who contacted us, the Alabama members of American Atheists, the thousands of atheists at Troy University, and the hundreds of millions of atheists worldwide who live productive, law-abiding lives without religion, we demand an apology from you for using the public university email system and your publicly funded position to disparage atheists and minority religious groups as well as perpetuating the discrimination and anti-patriotic sentiment against atheists in the United States.

As you represent an institution of higher learning, we would like to take this opportunity to educate you about atheists and morality. Atheists are overwhelmingly ethical and upstanding people. It is not true that religion is necessary to keep people from becoming criminals.

The Christian Post reported that Andy Ellis, Troy’s director of university relations, provided it with a statement from the university regarding Hawkins’s email.

The Christian Post:

“The purpose of this email was to spur introspection and encourage thoughtful discussion as we transition from the challenges of 2014 to the opportunities ahead in 2015,” read the statement. “This message and video were shared to provide the university community with information and insights for healthy consideration and debate about our country’s democracy, the role it plays in the world and the challenges America faces going forward.”

The Dothan Eagle said the university’s statement also included the following:  “Troy University is an international university that contributes regularly to the global marketplace of ideas. This message and video were shared to provide the university community with information and insights for healthy consideration and debate about our country’s democracy, the role it plays in the world and the challenges America faces going forward.”

Carly Omenhiser of the Dothan Eagle reported that Ellis said that “at this time this is the university’s response to the letter written by the American Atheist president.”

That’s the public university’s response to the concerns of one of their students and the American Atheists organization. Maybe Silverman’s letter to Hawkins should have spurred introspection in the chancellor? Did Hawkins not feel that Silverman’s letter provided him and the university “with information and insights for healthy consideration and debate about our country’s democracy…”?????

SOURCES

Atheist group slams Alabama university over fear-mongering, pro-religion mass email (Raw Story)

Atheist group wants apology from Troy University chancellor over this emailed video (AL.com)

Open Letter: American Atheists Demands Apology After Troy University Chancellor Sends New Year’s Anti-Atheist Video in Mass Email (American Atheists)

Atheists Demand Troy University Apologizes for Saying Belief in God Is Essential for Democracy to Work in Video Sent to Students (The Christian Post)

Atheist group demands apology from Troy chancellor (Dothan Eagle)

FURTHER READING

Clayton M. Christensen (Wikipedia)

Clayton M. Christensen (Harvard Business School)

Clayton Christensen (claytonchristensen.com)

Clayton Christensen: The Survivor (Forbes)

 

This entry was posted in Alabama, Atheism, Christianity, Democracy, Education, Free Speech, Government Propaganda, Judaism, Propaganda, Religion, Society and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Troy University Chancellor Sends Out Anti-Atheist Message to Students and Staff at End of Year

  1. markcaesar says:

    Kudos to Chancellor Hawkins for standing on his beliefs and not being afraid to publicize them. It’s not democracy if the only ones allowed to have freedom of speech are special interest groups. Freedom of speech applies to all and if he feels democracy and Christianity are linked, then that is his right and prerogative.

  2. Joe says:

    Watch it, Mark. The usual suspects have no use for freedom of speech for Christians.

  3. mespo727272 says:

    markcaesar:
    They’re only “special interest groups” if you don’t like them. The rest of us call them citizens with a concern. In this case, a very valid concern about discrimination against a group of students who may not see things his way. Wonder if you’d be so sanguine about his free speech rights if he took on religion in his comments and called it for the ruse it so clearly has become. BTW he has the right to alienate people with his words but we’d expect more from a leader of an institution. He was clearly speaking for more than himself here using the title “Chancellor.”

  4. mespo727272 says:

    Joe:

    Come on, Joe. The church crowd gets plenty of opportunity to spew the silliness.

  5. bigfatmike says:

    ‘If you take away religion you cannot hire enough police’

    Personally I think that is unsupported, bigoted nonsense.

    But you don’t have to take my word for it. Seems that statements like that are easily testable. As a first cut, why not look at crime rates among atheists and other groups particularly those with strong religious beliefs. That study might not be conclusive but it ought to give you a feel about how crime rates are shaping up and maybe some ideas about where to look next.

    I will even venture a guess: crime rates correlate better with socio-economic status than religious practice.

  6. bron98 says:

    Try telling the great mass of humanity there is no God, no after life and the only thing they have is the here and now. The great throng who live on the edge, what little hope they have is held with the hope of a better life after death.

    I dont think we would need policeman so much as a larger military to keep the new barbarians at bay.

  7. Elaine M. says:

    Guess what? Troy University has faith-based dorms!

    Troy University’s faith-based dorms violate First Amendment and fair-housing laws, group says
    8/2/13
    http://blog.al.com/wire/2013/08/troys_faith-based_dorms_violat.html

    Excerpt:
    TROY, Alabama — The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group that is investigating Troy University’s faith-based dorms, says the new facilities violate fair-housing laws and constitutional provisions providing for the separation of church and state.

    In a letter sent Thursday night to Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr., the group’s staff attorney, Andrew Seidel, requested a written response addressing a host of legal concerns related to the $11.8 million Newman Center dorms set to open Aug. 9.

    “Students who wish to live in the Newman Center are required to ‘be respectful of diversity,’ but the facility itself is not respectful of diversity,” Seidel wrote. “Its sole purpose is to create a space for (the) devoutly religious, thereby excluding the nonreligious students who are not devout enough …”

    The public university’s new dorms are intended for students of any religion who want to incorporate faith in their collegiate experience, university officials say.
    newmancenter2013.jpgTroy University’s faith-based dorms are set to open this month. (Courtesy of Troy University)

    The dormitories give preference to students who maintain active spiritual lifestyles and are actively engaged in a campus faith-based organization.

    But Seidel wrote that preference violates the Alabama Fair Housing Act, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against potential buyers or tenants on the basis of race, religion, sex, familial status or national origin.

    The preference also violates the Fist Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as well as state constitutional provisions regarding church and state, Seidel wrote.

    “This amounts to Troy University making a determination of how religious a person is, and then discriminating among students based on that determination,” he wrote. “It is unconstitutional for government entities to make such a determination …”

    The provision in the state constitution reads as follows:

    “That no religion shall be established by law; that no preference shall be given by law to any religious sect, society, denomination, or mode of worship; that no one shall be compelled by law to attend any place of worship; nor to pay any tithes, taxes, or other rate for building or repairing any place of worship, or for maintaining any minister or ministry; that no religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under this state; and that the civil rights, privileges, and capacities of any citizen shall not be in any manner affected by his religious principles.”

  8. Elaine M. says:

    bron,

    Are you suggesting that atheists are barbarians? Are you also implying that people who believe in God don’t commit crimes?

  9. bigfatmike says:

    ” The great throng who live on the edge, what little hope they have is held with the hope of a better life after death.”

    Now that is an interesting idea. You and the Chancellor seem to believe that religion is really, really important because it indoctrinates students and the general population to be passive citizens and lowers the cost of LE.

    Who would’a guessed? Religion is cost effective law enforcement.

  10. gbk says:

    It’s funny how, “the great throng,” is never a self-inclusive set.

  11. buckaroo says:

    “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

    Martin Luther King, Jr.

  12. blouise17 says:

    Bron,

    Methinks you’ve been reading Marx: ‘Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.’

  13. blouise17 says:

    gbk,

    Snap!

  14. bron98 says:

    I was thinking about the people who live in terrible conditions in other countries.

    I am quite sure that most people in this country would be law abiding citizens with or without religion.

    Blouise:

    Dont you think the idea of life after death is a comfort to many people?

    gbk:

    I was not thinking about America. So I would naturally exclude myself from the set. Many billions of people live in terrible conditions, thankfully I do not. So I would exclude myself from that set as well.

    I dont think you can read much into that statment but you are welcome to try. The previous post, not this one.

    You have 2 sets, those not Americans and those living in poverty. The 2 sets intersect. Since I am an American and do not live in poverty, I do not belong to the sub-set I was describing.

  15. bron98 says:

    Elaine:

    No, I dont think atheists are barbarians. Quite the contrary.

  16. mespo727272 says:

    bron:

    No better way to placate the masses than with a lie, Was Marx right as blouise suggests? An opiate?

  17. blouise17 says:

    Blouise:

    Dont you think the idea of life after death is a comfort to many people? – Bron

    Certainly, when sitting quietly, but in the throes of anger, greed, jealousy, lust, hunger, etc…. not so much.

  18. bron98 says:

    mespo:

    Truth is always the best road to take. As far as the existence of God, I am like Jefferson and Adams.

    I certainly dont think religion is necessary for morality. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is axiomatic and does not need a Supreme Being for implementation.

    I think some people find it hard to wrap their minds around death. A little opiate is not a problem unless it gets out of hand.

  19. bron98 says:

    Blouise:

    Isnt that precisely what religion is for? To tame our baser natures? Isnt that what philosophy in general aims at doing? To teach us to live properly with others.

  20. Elaine M. says:

    We all know that throughout history and into the present day all religious people have been/are always respectful of, tolerant and kind toward those whose religious beliefs are not the same as theirs. No violence has ever been caused in the name of religion.

  21. Elaine M. says:

    Bron,

    There are people–including many children–in this country who live in terrible conditions.

  22. mespo727272 says:

    Bron:

    I can live with your type of religion. I can’t fathom the talking snakes, tribalism and manipulative deception inherent in the modern variety. No condoms in sub-Saharan Africa where AIDS is epidemic on religious grounds. That kills people.

  23. mespo727272 says:

    Troy is a public university in Bible-thumping Alabama. I’d like this message better if he would have used the 60s vernacular and referenced George Wallace a time or two.

  24. bron98 says:

    mespo:

    I always wonder how anyone can think that a Supreme Being would be for all that bat shit crazy stuff. I guess it would all sound bat shit crazy to a being from another world. Rising from the dead, walking on water, feeding the masses with one loaf and a fish.

    I stay away from religion and just tell people they are wrong about economics.

  25. blouise17 says:

    Blouise:

    Isnt that precisely what religion is for? To tame our baser natures? Isnt that what philosophy in general aims at doing? To teach us to live properly with others. – Bron

    Except that it doesn’t. You are equating religion to the family and or tribe/village. Religion is one of many tools and there are have always been those who teach the young how to function productively within the social circle without using the religion tool. The skill set being taught does not require the religion tool to be successful. Religion has simply coined a marketing plan to sell their tools. Buyer beware.

  26. Elaine M. says:

    An Atheist Goes Undercover to Join the Flock of Mad Pastor John Hagee
    By Matt Taibbi
    http://www.alternet.org/story/84043/an_atheist_goes_undercover_to_join_the_flock_of_mad_pastor_john_hagee

    Excerpt:
    On the final morning of the weekend, we gathered in the chapel for the Deliverance. Fortenberry, dressed in his standard Western shirt and hiked-up jeans, sauntered up to the lectern wearing a solemn and dramatic expression. “This is fixing to be the biggest spiritual battle that ninety-nine percent of you will ever face,” he said. “But let me tell you something. It’s already been won. It was won 2,000 years ago.”

    The crowd cheered. As the applause tailed, he held his hands up Mussolini-fashion, asking for quiet. The crowd complied. It was quite dramatically done, this whole business, whatever we were working toward. And at that moment, I spotted a younger kid who had been at the retreat all weekend working a soundboard for the musical parts zipping behind the crowd to some kind of dimmer panel. He turned a switch and the lights dimmed slightly; though it was morning, the light in the building suddenly turned unnatural, like the light during a partial eclipse.

    Throughout the whole weekend, Fortenberry had been setting himself up as an athletic conqueror of demons. Now, on the final morning, he looked like a quarterback about to take the field before a big game. The life coaches assembled around the edges of the chapel, carrying anointing oil and bundles of small paper bags.

    Fortenberry began to issue instructions. He told us that under no circumstances should we pray during the Deliverance.

    “When the word of God is in your mouth,” he said, “the demons can’t come out of your body. You have to keep a path clear for the demon to come up through your throat. So under no circumstances pray to God. You can’t have God in your mouth. You can cough, you might even want to vomit, but don’t pray.”

    The crowd nodded along solemnly. Fortenberry then explained that he was going to read from an extremely long list of demons and cast them out individually. As he did so, we were supposed to breathe out, keep our mouths open and let the demons out.

    And he began.

    At first, the whole scene was pure comedy. Fortenberry was standing up at the front of the chapel, reading off a list, and the room was loudly chirping crickets back at him.

    “In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of incest! In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of sexual abuse! In the name of Jesus…”

    After a few minutes, there was a little twittering here and there. Nothing serious. I was beginning to think the Deliverance was going to be a bust.

    But then it started. Wails and cries from the audience. To my left, a young black man started writhing around in his seat. In front of me and to my right, another young black man with Coke-bottle glasses and a shock of nerdly jheri curl — a dead ringer for a young Wayne Williams — started wailing and clutching his head.

    “In the name of Jesus,” continued Fortenberry, “I cast out the demon of astrology!”

    Coughing and spitting noises. Behind me, a bald white man started to wheeze and gurgle, like he was about to puke. Fortenberry, still reading from his list, pointed at the man. On cue, a pair of life coaches raced over to him and began to minister. One dabbed his forehead with oil and fiercely clutched his cranium; the other held a paper bag in front of his mouth.

    “In the name of Jesus Christ,” said Fortenberry, more loudly now, “I cast out the demon of lust!”

    And the man began power-puking into his paper baggie. I couldn’t see if any actual vomitus came out, but he made real hurling and retching noises.

    Now the women began to pipe in. On the women’s side of the chapel the noises began, and it is not hard to explain what these noises sounded like. If you’ve ever watched The Houston 560 or any other gangbang porn movie, that’s what it sounded like, only the sounds were far more intense.

    It was not difficult to figure out where the energy was coming from on that side of the room. Some of the husbands glanced nervously over in the direction of their wives.

    “In the name of Jesus Christ, I cast out the demon of cancer!” said Fortenberry.

    “Oooh! Unnh! Unnnnnh!” wailed a woman in the front row.

    “Bleeech!” puked the bald man behind me.

    Within about a minute after that, the whole chapel erupted in pandemonium. About half the men and three-fourths of the women were writhing around and either play-puking or screaming. Not wanting to be a bad sport, I raised my hand for one of the life coaches to see.

    “Need .. a .. bag,” I said as he came over.

    He handed me a bag.

    “In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of handwriting analysis!” shouted Fortenberry.

    Handwriting analysis? I jammed the bag over my mouth and started coughing, then went into a very real convulsion of disbelief as I listened to this astounding list, half-laughing and half-retching.

    “In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, I cast out the demon of the intellect!” Fortenberry continued. “In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of anal fissures!”

    Cough, cough!

  27. Elaine M. says:

    Blouise:

    Dont you think the idea of life after death is a comfort to many people? – Bron

    Certainly, when sitting quietly, but in the throes of anger, greed, jealousy, lust, hunger, etc…. not so much.

    *****
    Religion/the idea of life after death certainly didn’t prevent some Catholic priests from violating young children, did it?

  28. blouise17 says:

    Elaine,

    Consider that all those priests went through the official Catholic training and indoctrination program and they certainly didn’t seem worried about losing their life after death status. Is it possible that they knew it was all one, giant fiction?

  29. Elaine M. says:

    blouise,

    I went through twelve years of religious indoctrination in parochial schools–and look at what it did to me!

    😉

  30. bettykath says:

    Elaine, You must have been an independent thinker even then. 🙂

  31. Chuck says:

    I’m just surprised that a good Southern Baptist would even acknowledge a Mormon’s message, let alone broadcast it to the entire college.

  32. Elaine M. says:

    bettykath,

    It took a while for me to become an independent thinker. The best thing about attending those two parochial schools: the wonderful people that I met at them. I became lifelong friends with more than a dozen of my fellow students.

  33. bron98 says:

    Cronyism: The Obama regime has quietly ordered Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to start donating hundreds of millions of dollars a year to a permanent affordable-housing slush fund for Democratic activist groups.

    Earlier this month, while few were paying attention, Federal Housing Finance Agency chief Mel Watt sent letters to the mortgage giants to “set aside in each fiscal year 4.2 basis points of each dollar of unpaid principal balance of new business purchases to be allocated to the Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund.”

    That’s a 0.042% tax to equip the funds. HUD will run the housing fund; the Treasury Department will run the capital fund.

    If the funds had been operating in 2010, when Fannie and Freddie together bought $856 billion in new mortgages, Fannie and Freddie would have pumped a whopping $360 million into the funds. Estimates put their total for fiscal 2015 at half a billion dollars.

    The money will help build apartments for extremely low-income Americans, says Watt, the former Congressional Black Caucus leader whom President Obama hand-picked to regulate Fannie and Freddie. The funds will also help the poor afford their own homes through down payments and other assistance.

    But nonprofit housing activist groups will distribute the funds. So count on money being diverted to ACORN fronts and clones, beholden to the Democratic Party, who in the past have laundered housing grant money to finance political campaigns.

    As we’ve reported previously, ACORN affiliates are still operational in New York and other cities, having renamed themselves after ACORN was busted for fraud and corruption during the 2008 presidential campaign. They’re also still receiving HUD housing grants.

    In the past, these groups have used HUD grants to pressure banks to make ill-advised home loans that sped the mortgage crisis. Now a permanently funded war chest will aid their shakedown — courtesy of taxpayers still on the hook for Fannie and Freddie.

    The last thing the nation needs is another Washington scheme that further politicizes the lending and home-building markets. Yet rest assured that will be the end result of these national housing funds.

    Making matters worse, they’re unaccountable to congressional appropriators, making them ripe for corruption and cronyism. We’re talking about billions of dollars funneling through left-wing nonprofits and floating around in urban reinvestment projects sponsored by the likes of Rahm Emanuel and Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

    With this potential $500 million slush fund, moreover, the Obama regime is effectively turning Fannie and Freddie into off-budget welfare agencies — indeed, a self-sustaining shadow government for the left wing that will survive even Republican administrations.

    Now we know what the president really had in mind when he promised to “reform” the bankrupt mortgage giants.

    Read More At Investor’s Business Daily: http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/123014-732671-obama-orders-fannie-freddie-to-set-aside-housing-slush-fund.htm#ixzz3Nxeyj96P
    Follow us: @IBDinvestors on Twitter | InvestorsBusinessDaily on Facebook

  34. Mike Spindell says:

    Bron,

    Sounds like a great idea to me.

  35. Elaine M. says:

    Organization still calling for public apology
    1/6/15
    http://www.troymessenger.com/2015/01/06/organization-still-calling-for-public-apology/

    Excerpt:
    Amanda Knief, managing director of American Atheists, said the organization is publicly calling for an apology after receiving complaints from a Troy University student, and said that since publicly calling for the apology, more Troy University students and alumni have come forward saying the email was disrespectful to them.

    “We can’t understand why a public email was used to send out that video,” Knief said. “It is important to note that we were not the only ones who have complained. We have heard from quite a few Troy alums and students since we heard of this, and they appreciate that we’ve spoken out in their behalf.”

    The university released a statement in response, saying: “The purpose of this email was to spur introspection and encourage thoughtful discussion as we transition from the challenges of 2014 to the opportunities ahead in 2015 … Troy University is an international university that contributes regularly to the global marketplace of ideas. This message and video were shared to provide the university community with information and insights for healthy consideration and debate about our country’s democracy, the role it plays in the world and the challenges America faces going forward.”

    And, while some may think the American Atheists is simply “stirring the pot,” Knief wanted to assure the public that the organization was displeased with the use of a publicly funded email and position to spread a personal belief.

    “Our concern with the video message is that the chancellor is a publicly funded position at a public university,” Knief said. “The message in the video was that you have to be a religious person attending church to be a considered a moral person in the United States. When we saw the video, we agreed with the student. We agreed it was harmful to students of the university. It is perfectly fine for people to have their own beliefs, but this is a public university. It was slap in the face to someone who didn’t have religious beliefs.”

    Knief said it was a common misconception in the United States that religion equaled a moral standing and felt this misconception was exacerbated by the chancellor’s comments.

  36. pete says:

    It really doesn’t surprise me. Troy State or Troy University as they are called now is in a state where the chief justice of the state supreme court thinks it’s acceptable to being in a multi-ton monument of the ten commandments into a state building in the middle of the night.

    I can’t help it, I have to tell this. On US 231 coming into Troy from the north there was a small no-tell motel on the right called “The Trojan Inn”. Always good for a smile when passing through there.

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