Reading the Bible before class was enough to get an Arizona college student ordered by his professor to leave the classroom and referred to the department head.
According to Campus Reform, in February, Mark Holden, a 22-year-old history major at Northern Arizona University, was told by one of his history professors, Heather Martel, that he had to leave the lecture hall when he refused to put his Bible away before the class had begun.
The professor then called the department head, Derek Heng, to speak with Holden, a conversation which he recorded.
"So Prof. Martel says that she doesn't want you sitting in front of her because you put, you know, a Bible out, right?" Heng said to Holden.
Even as Heng admitted he did not know what was going on in the classroom, he suggested that the "real key is to make sure that, you know, the class is able to go on and that you are in the classroom."
"So she doesn't want me in the front because I have my Bible out?" Holden inquired to clarify. Holden said that he arrives to class early and uses the extra time to read his Bible.
Martel's official bio on the university's website notes that she is currently writing an essay titled "The Gender Amazon: Indigenous Female Masculinity in Early Modern European Representations of Contact," and was recently invited to revise and resubmit for publication her article "Colonial Allure: Normal Homoeroticism and Sodomy in Sixteenth-Century French-Timucuan Encounters in Florida" in the Journal of the History of Sexuality.
According to the Arizona Daily Independent Sunday, NAU "has developed a reputation for offering mostly non-rigorous degrees, it has become a haven for educators and students with too much time on their hands and little of substance on their minds."
The dispute between Martel and Holden over his reading the Bible before class was apparently not the first negative exchange, as noted by Fox News' Todd Starnes Monday.
During a class discussion about assimilation, Holden brought up negative aspects to it, citing news reports where two Muslim men in California justified raping women using the Koran as their defense.
Holden told Starnes that Martel called him a "racist" and that she would not tolerate what he was espousing in class.
"I told her Islam was not a race and I was only talking about what the two Muslim men as individuals said — I was not making broad claims about Islam or my interpretation of the Koran," Holden said.
Martel later sent out the following email to the entire class.
"I want this to be clear: hate speech does not meet the definition of respectful discussion and will not be tolerated," she wrote. "In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group."
Holden has reportedly withdrawn from Martel's class.