Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mention of Prayer "Enrages" Professor

At Olivet College in Michigan a student who is a Christian says he was punished by one of his professors for making a reference to God in the classroom. According to Agape Press, freshman Jeremiah Bannister claims he was the target of anti-Christian bigotry and grade retaliation in his “Writing and Rhetoric” class.

Apparently Bannister was asked by Professor Austin Jackson, a Sunni-Muslim, to voice his personal opinion about what African-Americans can do to overcome historical prejudice. Bannister opposed affirmative action and slavery reparations and suggested that prayer would be one means of dealing with prejudice.

That suggestion allegedly angered Professor Jackson. Bannister claims that the professor said, “that invoking God in class was unacceptable; that it was anti-intellectual, that it was belligerent, and [that] it was completely unacceptable in his classroom. And he actually docked us 10 points from our grade because I invoked God in my opinion of what could be done.”

According to Bannister he was instructed to never mention anything about God or Jesus in the classroom.

Ironically Olivet College was founded in 1844 by Father John Shiperd with Christian values. According to the college’s web site Olivet redefined its direction in the early 1990’s.

The school is investigating the matter and my purpose is not to be critical of students, administration or faculty. My reflection is on the alleged statement of the professor. Whether he actually said such things or not, other academics certainly have. Are Christian theology, ideology and values “anti-intellectual”?

I’ve been in places and gatherings where “Christianity” was very “anti-intellectual” and looked at academia with disdain. To be fair, academia has often been anti-faith. But, the rest of the story is that nowhere does Jesus (the founder of Christianity) ask men and women to “check their brain at the door”. In fact just the opposite is true.

Jesus exhorted that if one is going to know God and follow God well one must “love the Lord your God with all your heart (feelings) and mind (thinking)…”


GdsGrl said...

"nowhere does Jesus (the founder of Christianity) ask men and women to “check their brain at the door”."

I like that the author pointed this out. Unfortunatly, many non-christian people in the world believe that you can not believe in God without 'checking' your brain out. Its funny - but I use my 'brain' more in church than in every day life. When challenged by a sermon I enjoy figuring things out - using Prayer (Smile)

Scott Brewer said...


You're exactly right. I sometimes cringe when I hear the Christian faith described as requiring "blind faith" or a leap in the dark.

Rather, it is a leap into the light as God brings revelation to a dark heart.

Considering God's Word and His ways stretches my thinking and challenges my comprehension.

Thanks for your comments.

bannisterandsutherby said...

I can assure you that I did not check my brain out at the door when I went into Writing and Rhetoric that morning. haha This is Jeremiah Bannister, the student in the Agape article. is my blog and I have written about the issue for a few weeks now.

Scott Brewer said...


Thanks for checking in on my humble blog. I took a minute to check out your blog and see what the latest is regarding your encounter with the prof.

I hope it goes well for you. You appear to have a huge freshman year going with many involvements. Blessings on all that God is purposing to do in and through you.