You know it’s not going to be good when a 10-page letter of complaint breaks off in the middle and says, “But wait, there’s more.”
The letter demands a “full and independent review of Mr. Russum’s behavior and course content,” an appropriate grading of a 16-year-old student’s assignments, which earlier were given “zero” grades because of her beliefs, “a written apology” and assurances that future courses “will be free from such unlawful discrimination.”
“Mr. Russum should be fired, as he has forfeited all trust in his academic integrity,” the letter, signed by Roger Gannam on behalf of Liberty Counsel, said. If those things do not happen, “Liberty Counsel will take further action to prevent irreparable harm to the rights of our clients.”
WND left messages for Russum as well as school Dean Donald Painter. A college spokeswoman later responded to WND that the college would not comment.
The situation arose over the attendance in a Russum class of “G.L.” a 16-year-old who is enrolled under a special program allowing dual enrollments in high school and college.
But during Russum’s class, “she refused to conform to his personal worldviews of Marxism, atheism, feminism and homosexuality,” Liberty Counsel said. For that, her assignments were given no credit.
“Professor Russum expressed blatant and pervasive anti-Christian bias throughout the class, such as the following essay question: ‘Why did Christianity, and its male gods, seek to silence these women [the nuns]?'” LC explained. “In other essays where G.L. refused to concede that Christianity was false, violent, or oppressive to women; that Martin Luther’s motivations for the Reformation were wholly secular; and that Michelangelo’s sculptures and paintings communicated that ‘same-sex relationship is NOT A SIN,’ Mr. Russum gave her a total of four straight zeros.
“Mr. Russum should not be permitted to use his position to punish students who do not conform to his anti-Christian views,” said Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel. “G.L.’s parents asked Polk State College to review this matter, but it refused, so Liberty Counsel is stepping in to help. According to its website, the college’s core values are service, integrity, knowledge, diversity, and leadership. No student should be subjected to such outrageous bias and outright hostility to their values by a professor. Being a professor is not open season to belittle and punish students merely because they do not subscribe to the professor’s radical opinions.”
According to the letter, the student has a 3.9 GPA, and Liberty Counsel said it reviewed Russum’s activities.
“His hostility toward ‘religion’ (in actuality, Christianity) begins in the syllabus and continues throughout the course, despite the fact that he states in the syllabus that students ‘are under no obligation to agree with classmates, authors, or the instruction,'” the letter said.
Among the behaviors by Russum that were uncovered:
- His claims that all religion come from “human imagination.”
- His introduction of students to Karl Marx “as an authority on the ‘cultural attempt to build civilization’ of the ancient Mesopotamians.”
- His attempts to “deconstruct the Bible.”
- His attribution to Christians of all evil in his chapter called “The Roll (sic) of Religion in the Middle Ages.”
- His claim that Christianity was “one of the most violent forms of religion the world had ever seen.”
- His use of a closeup of the sex organs of Michelangelo’s David to illustrate art.
- His claim that there are phallic symbols in Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment that reveal “Michelangelo is claiming that being in a same sex relationship is NOT A SIN and WILL NOT keep someone out of heaven.”
Further, some of the statements he “liked” on his Facebook page, including language that cannot be published here.
Among those that can be reproduced are “Unpacking the ‘F’ Word” “Guerrilla Feminism,” “Smashing the Patriarchy” and others.
“But wait, there’s more: In addition to an inordinate overemphasis on four-letter words and a cornucopia of Communist concepts and symbols in his ‘likes,’ Mr. Russum has a previous profile picture consisting of Fidel Castro, along with a picture of Jesus Christ signaling ‘F*** You’ by flipping the middle finger, with Mr. Russum providing the caption: ‘I finally have the answer to WWJD [what would Jesus do]?'” the letter explains.
“In both the humanities course, and in his online persona, Mr. Russum displays unadulterated hostility toward Christians, in violation of the Establishment Clause, and also blames Christianity for victimizing women and stifling sexual expression. While Mr. Russum is free, on his own time, to advocate whatever he wishes, so long as it does not create a material disruption to the academic environment, his online content is compelling evidence that his course material and heavier are not merely ‘pedagogical.’
“Since G.L. refuses to be ‘converted’ by Mr. Russum’s ‘Militant Atheist’ proselytizing into a ‘Woman Without Religion,’ he has instead decided to ‘ruthlessly annihilate’ her [grade], under his email signature line’s ‘true ethical test’ from Slavoj Zizek, a modern-day Marxist who justifies the mass-murders of Lenin, Mao, Stalin, the Khmer Rouge (‘not radical enough’), and Adolf Hitler (‘not violent enough’),” the letter states.
“The Constitution does not ‘require complete separation of church and states; it affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any,” the letter said, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.
The letter explains the “government cannot constitutionally prescribe a religious orthodoxy and condemn heresy on homosexuality, or anything else.” But it said, “Mr. Russum has done exactly that.”
“The mountain of evidence against him – including his discriminatory questions; his intentional hostility toward Christianity throughout the course material; his abuse of his position of authority; and his improper, retaliatory grading of G.L.’s papers (which provided academically responsive answers to his illegitimate questions while remaining true to her faith) with four straight zeros – is beyond the pale. … This is not pedagogical; it is personal. It cannot be seriously argued that Mr. Russum has acted appropriately within this course.”