Right-leaning New York rags like the Sun and the Daily News are all up in arms about the possible appointment of an atheist to chair the sociology department at Brooklyn College. Katha Pollitt takes on the issue beautifully. The professor, Tim Shortell, can be a little offensive (he refers to believers as “moral retards”). But, as she writes,
Besides, so what if Shortell’s essay is offensive? Brooklyn College is a public, secular institution, not a Bible college. The Sun claimed Shortell’s disdain for religion would cloud his judgment of job candidates, but there was never any evidence that this would be the case. No student ever complained about his teaching; his colleagues trusted him enough to elect him to the post; the student work posted on his website is apolitical and bland. Predictions of bias, absent any evidence, are just a backhanded way of attacking his beliefs. You might as well say no Southern Baptist should be chair, since someone who believes that women should be subject to their husbands, homosexuality is evil and Jews are doomed to hell won’t be fair to female, gay or Jewish job candidates. Or no Orthodox Jew or Muslim should be chair because religious restrictions on contact with the opposite sex would privilege some job candidates over others.
But nobody ever does say that. As long as a believer ascribes his views to his faith, he can say anything he wants and if you don’t like it, you’re the bigot.
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