Allegedly Anti-Religious Courses Will Be Reviewed, Says Ind. University Letter to Intelligent Design Group

A university in Indiana has sent a letter to a Washington state-based intelligent design group stating that it will be reviewing certain courses that are allegedly anti-religious in nature.

Ball State University sent the letter to the Discovery Institute of Seattle in response to a letter sent last month by the group protesting the university's stance on intelligent design and the content of certain courses.

Jo Ann Gora, president of Ball State, wrote on Monday that the Discovery Institute's arguments against the university's stance against intelligent design will not be changed and that the courses they took issue with are being investigated.

"You can be assured that the syllabi and curricula of all of the courses you singled out, as well as those of other courses offered by the Honors College and elsewhere at the University, are reviewed and updated on a regular basis," wrote Gora.

"Some were undergoing this process before we received the inquiry regarding Honors 296, and others are being reviewed and updated at the present time."

Joan Todd, executive director of Public Relations at Ball State who provided The Christian Post with the letter, told CP "all honors college courses will undergo a formal review by faculty within specific subcommittees of the honors college advisory council."

"The review will include the qualifications of the faculty member to teach the course material, the course content, and the appropriateness of the course pedagogy," said Todd.

"It will occur prior to the semester in which the course is offered. Courses scheduled to be offered in spring 2014, as well as those about which concerns have been expressed, are currently under review."

Todd also told CP about the process through which each of the courses, including those specifically mentioned by the Discovery Institute, go through.

"There are four subcommittees that conduct these reviews in the honors college, focused on each of four areas: social sciences, humanities, natural sciences, and colloquia," said Todd.

"This review structure may also be utilized when a concern is raised about the content of a course in the honors college."

Last month the Discovery Institute sent a letter to Ball State President Gora regarding certain courses they alleged were biased toward atheism.

Of particular focus was a course known as "Dangerous Ideas," an honors 390 seminar which the institute argued had course material and curriculum was biased toward an atheistic worldview.

"Given BSU's new policy forbidding its faculty from favoring or endorsing one side of a religious debate over another, we hereby demand an investigation of BSU English Prof. Paul Ranieri and his Honors 390 seminar, 'Dangerous Ideas,' which appears to violate the new policy," read the letter, in part.

The letter was signed by John G. West, vice president of the Discovery Institute; Joshua Youngkin, program officer at the institute's public policy and law division; and Donald McLaughlin, Ball State University alumnus and regional representative for the institute.

In an earlier interview with The Christian Post, West described the course material as "completely one-sided."

"We've gone through the readings assigned from the sole textbook for the course, and we think that they are completely one-sided," said West.

"If a public university selectively applies its policies and procedures to target certain professors based on their perceived religious beliefs, then that certainly raises important legal as well as policy issues."

In recent months, Ball State has been the center of controversy over its course material on the creation-evolution debate.

Earlier this year, the Muncie-based school garnered controversy when a physics professor offered a course called "The Boundaries of Science," or Honors 296, which critics argued was biased toward creationism.

In response, the university launched an investigation wherein it discontinued the course and denounced intelligent design as unscientific, while keeping the professor on staff.

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