A Christian second-year resident in the Wausau Family Practice program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine claims he’s being persecuted for “innocuous questions” he posed during a required lecture on Islam by evangelizing first-year residents. Dr. Michael Curtiss says department officials abruptly cancelled his contract a week after the lecture and then sabotaged his efforts to gain new employment at Michigan State University.
“I didn’t expect them to be so vindictive,” Curtiss told WorldNetDaily. “If their mothers knew, they’d be ashamed.”
On Jan. 1, the members of the Wausau residency program gathered for the weekly, required lecture designed to
offer exposure to specialists in a variety of fields like trauma, podiatry and fracture treatment. This lecture, however, was
given by first-year residents Altaf Kaiserruddin and Ilyas Sial who delivered a more than two-hour presentation on Islam and the Muslim culture.
“No medical topics were discussed at all. There was no point to the lecture other than to give them a forum to expound on their religious views,” said Curtiss. “They wouldn’t have given me two and a half hours to teach about Christianity, not that I would expect them to,” he added.
As Curtiss describes, Kaiserruddin sang prayers to Allah, described the five “Pillars of Islam” and preached the benefits of Islam for women, stating that it is “the fastest-growing religion among single, white women.” As Curtiss recalls,
Kaiserruddin admitted he was trying to evangelize and said he had given the presentation 25 times to various other groups. According to Curtiss, other residents grew uncomfortable during the lecture when Kaiserruddin refused to condemn suicide bombers and admitted tithing to Global Benevolence Foundation and sending money to the families of suicide bombers.
Repeated calls to Kaiserruddin were not returned. Ilyas Sial told WorldNetDaily he had no comment.
Curtiss, who attended seminary, says he questioned Kaiserruddin about six times throughout the lecture, quoting
scripture to illustrate his point.
“Everything I asked was innocuous, and I emphasize I did it in an informative way and not in an insulting way. … I did
nothing offensive other than reveal through scripture that Muhammad plagiarized the Bible,” Curtiss told WND.
“Mike was on top of things,” a fellow second-year resident who does not wish to be named told WND. “He would say, ‘No that’s not necessarily correct’ and explain why. … so there was education on both sides.”
According to Curtiss, Kaiserruddin called him into an exam room before the next Tuesday lecture and told him, “Your
contract is not going to be renewed.” Two days later, Curtiss received a registered letter from program officials informing him of just that. Curtiss says Wausau Clinic Program Director Kevin O’Connell and Family Medicine Department Chairperson John Frey repeatedly refused to give him an explanation for the termination.
Curtiss subsequently filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charging the university with religious discrimination. In an attempt to “flush out” an explanation, Curtiss also charged the school with age and disability discrimination in the event that school officials would base the termination on medical problems he suffered related to a tumor recently discovered to be pressing on his spinal cord.
Repeated calls to O’Connell were not returned. Frey told WorldNetDaily he has no comment. Public affairs spokesman
Michael Felber told WND in a written statement, “The university has met its obligations to [Curtiss] under the terms and conditions set forth in its contract with him. The university believes his charge is without merit and denies his allegations.”
Addressing specific questions raised about the purpose of the required lecture on Islam and how it came about, Felber
said in the statement, “Residents in the Department of Family Medicine deliver medical services to patients from very diverse cultural backgrounds. The established curriculum of the Department of Family Medicine Residency Program includes occasional informational presentations about different cultures. The purpose of these presentations is to adequately prepare residents to deliver high quality medical care to people of different backgrounds.”
According to Curtiss, no other cultural presentations have taken place.
“This is northern Wisconsin. We don’t really have Muslims here, and there’s no foreseeable influx of Muslims to northern
Wisconsin,” argued Curtiss. “I think the Wausau people were trying to make [Kaiserruddin and Sial] feel more at home, trying to allay any fears among staff … We’re taught tolerance. But you’re only tolerated if you’re a part of a special interest group. The last people tolerated are Christians,” Curtiss added.
“My understanding is that this was to foster understanding among the Christian residents of the Muslims,” said the fellow second-year resident who describes the lecture as “overall beneficial” for “shedding light where people have misperceptions” about Muslims. “Was this an adequate use of medical time? No, it wasn’t. It was kind of forced on us,” he added. This resident was also notified his contract would not be renewed following the lecture, but he maintains he was terminated on “justified grounds” and received fair warning.
“I was content to dust off my feet and move on,” Curtiss said. “I interviewed and was offered a position at Michigan State.” After exchanging a signed letter of agreement and receiving other
correspondence related to his future employment from Michigan State, Curtiss purchased a house nearby and his family
was preparing for the move. Curtiss was due to begin the new job on July 1, but then he received a letter from college
officials rescinding the job offer, and offering no explanation. Curtis claims word got back to officials at the University of Wisconsin who called Michigan State and sabotaged his new job.
Director of Marquette Family Practice Residency Program William Short told WND he “did not feel comfortable
discussing [Curtiss’ case] with an Internet newspaper.” When asked specifically whether he was contacted by University of Wisconsin officials about Curtiss Short replied, “I have no comment.”
Curtiss told WND the rescinded offer emboldens him to speak out about his experience at the University of Wisconsin.
“I just want people to realize the liberal universities and colleges in this country are morally, intellectually and ideologically bankrupt.”