• March 27, 2015

Iowa State Daily

Peterson: Class violates First Amendments principles

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  • Banned Class

    The one-semester independent study course proposed by finance professor Roger Stover, Finance 290X: Application of Biblical Insight into the Management of Business/Organization, has been canceled after some ISU faculty members objected that it violates First Amendment principles.

Do you believe Finance 290X: Application of Biblical Insight into the Management of Business/Organization should have been canceled?

Finance 290X: Application of Biblical Insight into the Management of Business/Organization was canceled after some ISU faculty members said the class violates First Amendment principles.

Total Votes: 261

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Posted: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 1:48 pm, Tue May 22, 2012.

I'm arguing for Christianity and every other religion. I'm arguing against the class Finance 290X: Application of Biblical Insight into the Management of Business/Organization. The class would be damaging to Christianity. It would impede the goals of higher education. And most importantly, it violates the separation of church and state granted by the First Amendment.

If you want to learn objective facts about Christianity, take religious studies. It's an objective fact that people in the world believe in Christianity and that the Bible says this and that. Religious studies demonstrates these facts. It doesn't argue that they are true.

The difference between religious studies and teaching religion is critical. How to better apply the Bible to business is a religious question for those of the Christian faith. If you want to learn these principles in the model of the Evangelical Free Church, then go to church.

The church decides its own beliefs, which include the application of the Bible to business. The state has no power here. The state can decide matters of economics, but not faith. A college professor can't decide what method of practicing Christianity is worth an A.

Christians should be wary of granting state institutions the power to educate and make decisions regarding religious belief. That is why the two are kept separate. The purity and doctrine of a faith depends on the church to make the decisions.

Finance 290X grants a college professor the ability to say what method of Christianity is worth an A and thus guide doctrine and belief. He is given the ability to teach Christian students what model he approves, not what the church approves.

The professor decides what particular biblical insights are expressed for business management and what is good faith. Control of religious doctrine and teachings is the most dangerous power. It should be kept out of the hands of the state.

Although religion is important in our lives, it cannot be integrated into the state, especially one as diverse as the United States. It is diversity that grants us our power and the freedom to believe different faiths.

Your right to religious faith prevents the state from supporting any religion contrary to yours, controlling your religion or deciding what your religion believes. It importantly prevents the state from suppressing a single religion, possibly your religion, through direct or indirect means.

It's not to say that the law pickets religion or bans faith. It only goes so far as the state is involved. You can practice whatever belief you want, go to church and choose your religious texts.

You can even go to a Catholic college. You can't, however, be forced to take Islam in Political Policy or Judaism and the True History. Go to state school to get your secular education, go to church to find your faith.

The argument that it's an elective doesn't stand. If you do something illegal, it doesn't matter if you had to do it or you chose to. You broke the law. If the activity is a violation of legal and constitutional principles, it doesn't matter why you did it.

The problem for Finance 290X lies in the teaching of the course, not students' will to take it. Students are free to apply the Bible to their business; the Evangelical Church of Ames can teach it on Sunday. This is possible in part because of the separation between the church and the state.

I would concede that an understanding of faith is essential as a component of Western thought and liberal education. That's why we have churches: to teach religion. That's what the separation of church and state is all about.

Church teaches you faith and decides what is important in faith, what texts should be read and how it should be applied. You have limitless options for religions and can come to find your own way to the truth. Most students wouldn't want the church deciding the laws of physics or chemistry. Similarly, we don't want the public university to decide the meaning of the Bible.

Finance 290X was not canceled as an attack against religion, it is because of religious freedom that the class was canceled. No state institution, including state universities, can support a single religion.

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