Friday, July 01, 2005

Getting an "F" for Using the "G" Word

During this past spring semester, Bethany Hauf, a student at Victor Valley Community College in Victorville, California, received an "F" for her English 101 term paper titled "In God We Trust." Was it because of bad grammar? Did she misspell practically every other word? Did she turn it in past the due date? No, it was none of the above. She earned an "F" because . . . she dared to use the word "God" 41 times in a 10-page report on the topic "Religion and Its Place Within the Government," a topic, by the way, that was preapproved by her instructor, Michael Shefchik. However, to be fair, Shefchik did tell Hauf up front that she could write this particular paper under one condition: She could not use the word "God." But trying to write a paper about religion without mentioning God would be like trying to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without using bread. You just can't do it.

An article that appeared in Tuesday's Daily Press in Victorville reported:

"[Shefchik] said it would offend others in class," Hauf, a 34-year-old mother of four, said. "I didn't realize God was taboo."

Hauf has received legal assistance from the American Center for Law and Justice. The ACLJ is a conservative Christian legal foundation founded by Dr. M.G. "Pat" Robertson, who is also the founder, chairman and face of the Christian Broadcasting Network.

"I don't loose my First Amendment rights when I walk into that college," Hauf said. She is demanding an apology from the teacher and that the paper be re-graded.

. . . Hauf acknowledges she knew her teacher's condition for writing the paper, but argued it would be impossible to write about the affect of Christianity on the development of the United States without using the word God. "He told me you might as well write about the Easter Bunny," Hauf said. "He wanted to censor the word God."

What do you think? Was Hauf wrong to go against her instructor's wishes? Or was his demands of her in writing this paper ridiculous and out of line?

Hat tip to the Christianity Today Weblog.


At Friday, July 01, 2005 9:29:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While the instructor's condition is ridiculous, the student should have been a little more creative. Instead of "God", she could of used, "Creator of the Universe", "The Father", "The Holiest" or "the Owner of Heaven Who Decides Whether or Not Instructors Get In."

The day will come when teachers convince students that God is no different than the Easter Bunny in society and that you can go to a silly ritual service on Sunday morning but you'll be sorry if they find out about it.

These kids will grow up to look around society, find no signs of God in or on government property, no signs of Christmas (just Winterfest) in Dec., and have it ingrained in them that speaking of God outside of church is equivalent to having Leoparcy.

At this point, societal rules and regulations are determined by whims and feelings and grounded only in individual, human conscience. The obvious problem here is that if their "values" are not grounded in God, who or what are they grounded in?

Yes, this is quite an extrapolation but this has been my theory for a long time and I see this as just another step in the inevitable.

the Heckler

At Saturday, July 02, 2005 11:34:00 PM, Blogger George said...

I think it's impossible to comment on this out of context. The student's claim that the instructor wanted the student to not offend anyone is merely hearsay. Perhaps there is another reason. I can posit an assignment wherein the professor wanted a paper in which the student is to address religion as institution, i.e. the organized, communal gathering of individuals to worship a chosen diety according to a common agreed-upon set of beliefs. As such, he/she may not have wanted any discussion of a single set of beliefs as it would have distracted from the point of the paper.

It is so easy to get upset over things we know little about. It's much harder, but so much more responsible to ask questions before jumping to conculsions.

At Tuesday, July 05, 2005 10:25:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure, Michael, except for the fact that the story quotes the instructor as saying, "it would offend others in the class." This quote really doesn't back up your possible scenario.

The instructor's directions are ridiculous. And to use your hypothisis, the only reason to give such instruction would be to leave the door open for those who worship water buffalo or door knobs.

No 'other god' has ever had any influence on our government. While, in this country, you can worship any god you wish-or no god at all, only one God is given any credit for the American-way.

How do you build a case for religion in government without mentioning who the framers of the Decleration of Independence used in the first sentence of that document? They mentioned by name, GOD. To also build the case, you would have to site the volumes of references to God in their speeches.

Michael, if you don't believe there is a movement in this country to remove God from our society, you are in denial.

the Heckler

At Wednesday, July 06, 2005 10:23:00 PM, Blogger George said...

I'm sorry that you found it hard to read my entire post. I said that the instructor's comment was hearsay. I have been teaching for 30 years. It is my experience that 80% of the time, students will put words in teacher's mouths in order to make their cases. Why do you find it so easy to believe that there is some evil teacher out there being so obviously unethical and that the student has a heart of gold. Is it not within the realm of possibility that the student is stretching the truth to justify the 'F'?

Perhaps the teacher even said, "Make this a study of religions, not a theological study. You can mention God, but don't Make God the point of the paper." That, too is believable.

Finally, I am offended by the great conspiracy theory to "eliminate God" you put out there. I would put it to you that there is a movement to enforce a "religious correctness" which would have my Christianity conform to yours. Frankly, I find that to be antithetical to the message of the Gospel. The minute that I accept that God withdraws His Grace because I reject Conservative Christianity is the minute I become a Buddhist, which I don't plan on doing any time soon.

At Thursday, July 07, 2005 10:03:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talk about jumping to conclusions...

All I'm doing is believing the writer of the story who interviewed the student and likely reviewed the report in question (assuming he is a half-decent reporter). He hopefully, also, tried to get the instructor's take on it but I don't see one. If it were as you describe, Michael, you would find his quotes all over the story and the ACLJ would not waste their money and resources on the case.

I understand and believe that a large majority of students would do just what you describe. But I will also guess that that 80% doesn't take their lies to an attorney.

Also, I have no wish whatsoever to convert you to anything. Never said anything of the sort.

the Heckler

At Friday, July 08, 2005 12:39:00 AM, Blogger George said...

Perhaps I have jumped to conclusions, but the reporter has made no effort to let us know that the student's story has been verified, as most stories of this nature do. That's why it seemed fishy to me.

I would propose to you that the statement "if you don't believe there is a movement in this country to remove God from our society, you are in denial." posits a stance that, for example, because there are those who oppose the presence of prayer in the public schools, in our courts and other governmental functions they are anti-Christian and anti-American. Given that point of view, the only way to be Christian and American is to agree that prayer belongs in the public schools and in the courts.

It follows logically therefore that there is only one way that one can be a Christian and American. In fact, it's really too bad if I were Jewish or Buddhist or Muslim.

My point of view is different. I believe with all my heart that God, through Jesus, calls us to love each other equally, that this country is for everyone, that it was founded on that principle and that if prayer is kept out of governmental functions, then we will all feel free to come to God in the way we feel most comfortable.

That is the great message of the Gospel: Love God; Love each Other; God's Grace is endless. This is the one great country where we all have the opportunity, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, to discover that Truth.

At Friday, July 08, 2005 9:40:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


It looks like the reason the story is incomplete is because the misunderstood instructor didn't want to talk to the reporter.

But to your other points- much that we can agree on. Yes, Jesus is the way and their are different paths you can take to get to Him. No matter what faith, nationality or race you may be, in this country you have the chance to come face to face with the Truth.

But why? Why does everyone have that opportunity-or even the choice to worship Buddah if they like? It's because the forefathers of this nation believed in God and God to them represented free will.

They made no bones about the way they felt and were never ashamed to say the "G" word or "J" word. They also did not condemn those who did not believe.

As far as prayer in school, I think you have me labeled. I do, however, believe that kids should have an option to congregate during breaks and whatnot to pray together if they wish. And carrying around a Bible should be just fine.

But, Michael, I just think you are being misled on this one. If you remove every symbol and every mention of God or Christianity from our public view we will have a next generation without those "anchors".

Once all the anchors are removed religion becomes no more than an accient Sunday morning ritual that those guys in the history books did. Once the anchors are removed it is time to float on your own. Decisions are made based on your own best intentions. And, well, you see where all this is going.

the Heckler


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