Update on “Religious Bigotry in a University Classroom?”

A little over two years ago I published a post sharing comments made by an adjunct professor at Tarrant County Community College (Paul Derengowski) regarding his final exam for his World Religions class. He was highlighting something a student wrote in response to one of the questions. Here are that teacher’s comments:

As part of the Final Exam in World Religions I have all the students answer two short essay questions at the very end. 1. What did you enjoy most about the class? 2. What lesson did you learn that made, or will make, the greatest impact on your life?

One of my student wrote in answer to the second question:

Going to visit the Mormons taught me that there are many counterfeits out there to beware of and they all sound very good to try and draw you in or change your own philosophy. Trust in your faith and don’t be trusting of that in the world that has been derived from man alone.

Please note that all my students are required to visit two religions outside their comfort zone, and it is purely up to them where they go. They write a five-page paper on the experiences, and then get up in class and briefly discuss their findings. It is one aspect of the class that the students repeatedly tell me how much they appreciate and enjoy.

The student’s comments above are priceless. Why? Because she made the visit to the local Mormon meeting house on her own, long before we ever discussed Mormonism as a religion in class. In her words the Mormon church is (1) a counterfeit, and (2) a worldly religion derived from man alone. I couldn’t agree more.

The neat thing about teaching World Religions is not the pay, the long hours of preparation and study, but the lives that are changed for the better when I read comments like those above. They “get it” in a postmodern world of relativism, narcissism, and nihilism, all of which Mormonism espouses at different levels of thought. And because they “get it,” they won’t end up in a cult like Mormonism. Thank God for that!!

Btw, the jury came back with a unanimous decision that Mormonism was not an accurate representation of Christianity, and that after I placed the only Mormon in the class on the side attempting to prove that it was. Unfortunately, after the trial was over, the Mormon quit coming to class (not that she had a stellar attendance record anyway), and she’ll end up failing, sorry to say.

Several people in the field commented that this was entirely and completely inappropriate. I  shared in the comments section some responses from the teacher and a year later shared another post related to his bigotry.

It  has now come to my attention that Paul Derengowski recently resigned from his position at Tarrant County Community College as a direct result of his bigoted approach to teaching. Apparently two Muslim students who had had enough (one of whom commented on my blog) repeatedly interrupted his class during a lecture and one made threatening remarks that made Paul and several students quite uncomfortable. Both students left the class a couple minutes early. Paul filed a report with campus police, and several students also filed grievances. In the end, however, the students don’t appear to have suffered any disciplinary actions. One of them sent an email around linking to a bunch of Paul’s comments about Islam, Mormonism, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses elsewhere on the internet, and the admin didn’t appreciate what they found there. You will find many different versions of the story from many different angles if you google the keywords of the story (often describing Paul as a victim of “Sharia Law”). A news report is here. Another report is here. Paul has posted a long letter on his own blog explaining his side of the story and his resignation. Read through it if you have the stomach, but note he suggests in one place that all mosques should be under 24-hour government surveillance and all Muslims should be profiled and immediately deported or executed for any crimes whatsoever, including spitting on the sidewalk (what if they were born in the US?). This is the tone that accompanies Paul wherever he goes. It simply defies logic that he does not consider himself bigoted in the least (although he defines a bigot only as someone who has dogmatically made up their mind without looking at the data).

Now, as far as I’m concerned, the actions of the students were completely and totally inappropriate, and the one who made the threat, if it did happen, should have been disciplined. There’s simply no call or excuse for continued interruptions or threats toward teachers or students. I disapprove of those actions unilaterally. They should have gone to an administrator. Having said that, Paul says they should have come to him with Quran in hand to prove to him he’s wrong. That illustrates how useless it would be to try to approach him directly about his teaching style or to at all reason with him. An outburst of some kind from students was inevitable. It appears the school did not take the action Paul wanted because it was made aware of Paul’s phenomenally bigoted approach to teaching about religions. They cancelled a class he was going to teach while they were investigating the matter and he felt they didn’t want him around anymore, so he resigned. He’s still angry and feels having his syllabus and approach left alone for three years indicates his syllabus and approach were perfectly legitimate, but that’s obviously because they just didn’t vet him very well or look at his syllabus. That’s the school’s fault, although they’ll probably shuffle the blame around.

I leave you with Paul’s parting words to the school administration:

To the TCC administration—Barbara Coan, Josue Munoz, and Rusty Fox—who mishandled this case terribly, what a disappointment you have been.  You all were given the opportunity to serve God, but chose to serve mammon instead.  And by choosing to protect your bellies, you jeopardized, and will continue to jeopardize, every other student and employee associated with TCC.  In fact, the precedent you set by failing to act appropriately in quashing this terroristic act of jihad by these two Muslim students may cost someone his/her life someday.  God forbid if that happens.  Nevertheless, if it does, you won’t have to look far to see the bloodletting, because it will already be on your hands.  But, then again, maybe it will be your head they will want next, so it won’t matter then, just like it doesn’t matter to you now.  You will have your reward and so will they.


20 responses to “Update on “Religious Bigotry in a University Classroom?”

  • Mike Bennion

    Interesting and disturbing stuff. It still floors me that folks do this kind of teaching as if it is somehow valid serious scholarship. Good blog post Daniel.

  • homophilosophicus

    What a wonderful article. Thank you very much. It seems to me quite a pity that this ‘educator’ was not teaching in the Republic of Ireland (where people do not have the right to say whatever comes into their minds). He would have been removed from his position, charged with a criminal offence (religious discrimination and possibly incitement to hatred) and may even have been lucky enough to do some gaol time. Maybe some Mormon missionary would have come to visit him and lambaste him on the sins of prison sodomy. Well that is the logical end of the ‘freedom of speech’ I suppose.

  • BHodges

    I’m baffled as to how this man ever became a professor of world religion. Baffled.

  • Scripturefocus

    Paul’s parting words have far more substance and truth than anything you have ever posted here, McClellan. Why don’t you touch upon Joseph Smith’s claim that he would be a Second Mohammed to this country – “Joseph Smith or the sword.” Mormonism and Islam have much in common – false prophets and false holy books. Both Smith and Mohammed reported oppressive, demonic darkness when they first began receiving spiritual communications. That should have been a hint of their source! You hate being reminded that you are a Mormon, a member of a cult that rejects nearly every cardinal doctrine of the historic Christian faith. You frequent apologetics sites where you are well known for your boasting and condescension. And all your “personal research” just happens to support the Arian and polytheism of your particular belief system. Hey, I don’t care if you worship the great pumpking, but to put down a man of integrity who actually reveals the truth about Islam and its jihadist beliefs is really incredible. You obviously should stick to the Ugritic texts, since you know nothing whatsoever about Chrsitian theology, or the agressive teachings of Mohammed. Professor Derengowski is quite insightful and forthright about its danger. If you fail to see that, watch a video on 9/11.

  • Scripturefocus

    That should read above “the Arianism and polytheism of your cult.” Also, not pumpking, but pumpkin.

  • homophilosophicus

    Dear ‘Scripturefocus,’ maybe you should focus on your own scriptures. I am a Catholic and a theologian, and I do happen to know something about our sacred texts and our faith in Christ Jesus. Moreover, I am a Trinitarian of the Orthodox Catholic Tradition. From what I have read in the Holy Gospel I know that you are in some deep water when making such appalling remarks against another human being (made in the image and likeness of God). This was unkind and ignorant. Go and sit on the naughty step, and when you are ready, come back and apologise to Daniel. What does his own religious beliefs have to do with any of this? Idiot.

    • Scripturefocus

      I don’t care if you’re the Pope, you just simply don’t know what you’re talking about in regard as to the events which transpired in Prof. Derengowski’s classroom. Don’t call me ignorant, pal; it is you who are ignorant of the bizarre teachings of Mormonism – ask your leader, Daniel, here if he believes that God is an exalted human being (with all appropriate body parts for reproduction), and whether men can be exalted to godhood? Derengowski and McClellan used to debate on an apologetics site they both frequented. Do you get the picture yet? Don’t hold your breath, pal, I do not apologize for telling the truth.

      • Daniel O. McClellan

        I have seen very little in your posts that constitutes “truth.” The majority is just naive sectarianism and outright bigotry. As the previous poster pointed out, the tenets of the Mormon faith–no matter how bizarre a fundamentalist Christian finds them–simply has no bearing whatsoever on the horrifically inappropriate shape of Derengowski’s world religions course. Simply barking that your sectarianism is the “truth” doesn’t make it any less depraved to use a state-sponsored classroom to promote it over and against other traditions.

      • homophilosophicus

        Well maybe you ought to apologise. This indeed may be ‘your’ truth, but from a Christian perspective the manner in which you are sharing it is sinful. From a moral perspective what you are doing is simply rude. I am not your ‘pal,’ and as I have said, you and I have little in common. People believe all sorts of things – sure I believe that after three days a dead man rose from the tomb! A little bonkers, I know. But I believe it – so what, others have other bonkers beliefs. So long as they are not an assault on the dignity and rights of others I will struggle to give everyone the right to their own faith. Happy hunting.

  • Cody

    Apparently “Scripturefocus” doesn’t know the bible that well, since Matthew 7:1-5 certainly doesn’t fit his argument.
    Usually when people like him cannot refute the arguments and research of people like Daniel, they usually revert to these kinds of temper-tantrums when they consider all is lost.

    I bet this person is Paul himself.

  • Scripture Focus

    If you’re a Trinitarian, why are you here falling all over yourself to lick the boots of Arians?

  • Scripturefocus

    Ask McClellan how he interacts with people over at CARM – ask him how many times he’s been banned from there.

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      Yes, I’ve been banned numerous times for such atrocities as posting more than two links in a single post, going “off topic” by talking about the Bible, and insulting other posters by calling their arguments uninformed. Meanwhile, I’ve been told on that board that I need to die, and not only was I banned for reporting it, but entire threads were dedicated to defending the poster’s right to tell me that. Yes, banning from CARM is an indication of something, but it’s certainly not inappropriate or disrespectful behavior.

      • homophilosophicus

        Sure, Daniel, you should take that as something of an honour. You have to die? What an insult. I have to die. We all have to die. Last time I checked, it was still one of the certainties of life; that and taxes of course. Please let me insult you so – “you have to pay tax!” Ooh. Offensive, isn’t it?! Please don’t be too upset by this poster – he appears to have lost his marbles. I have noticed that he isn’t much of a Mormon fan. I suspect that he may have been one at some point. It’s always the way. Take care.

  • Scripturefocus

    McClellan has been banned for trying to make the Mormon forum into a platform to preach polythesim and to question the reliability of the Scriptures. He says he talks to evangelical Christians for “amusement.” Nobody that I can recall has ever told him that he needs to die – certainly not myself. But I can forward that accusation to the administration for review of that charge. I post there all the time and never saw anything remotely like that. Christians have repeatedly shared the Gospel with Daniel, which of course has been rejected. Nobody has lost their marbles as claimed by a so-called Catholic here who is accusing a person he knows nothing about – better get thee to the confessional, as the last I knew bearing false witness is still a sin! And Daniel, the same goes for you. You know the remarks you used on the Mormon forum – you know how when you were asked whether or not you personally would hand over your 14 year old daughter to Joseph Smith as a plural wife (when he was a middle-aged man), behind his wife, Emma’s, back, in exchange for a promise of “exaltation” (godhood) in the afterlife, there was no response – from you or any Mormon. I don’t expect a Catholic or the higher-critic types to care one way or another about how evangelical Christians are treated – however, I don’t think it’s right to publicly ridicule Prof. Derengowski regarding a case none of your is privy to. It’s poor forum, and obviously vindictive. You all owe Prof. Derengowski an apology.Ask yourself why at least one Muslim came to this very site to attack the Professor? You need to take the giant log out of your collective eyes, before attacking somebody you know absolutely nothing about. SF

  • Scripturefocus

    Sorry about the typo above – it should be “form” not “forum” in the final sentences. Also, in case people aren’t familiar with the behavior of Joseph Smith toward teenage girls, this site describing Helen Mar Kimball’s “marriage” to a middle-aged Smith will suffice:

    http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/26-HelenMarKimball.htm

    This is why Mr. McClellan and other Mormons have been asked if they would have acted similarly to Heber Kimball. SF

  • Another Update to “Religious Bigotry in a University Classroom?” | Daniel O. McClellan

    [...] the background to this story, see here and an update here. To bring everyone up to speed, just a couple of weeks ago Paul Derengowski decided to post an [...]

  • Aachen on the Plains

    Just in case you’ve not been informed, your link to P. Derengowski’s letter is now 404’d:

    http://capro.info/Cults/Islam/Tell_Them_the_Truth.html

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 256 other followers

%d bloggers like this: