In a real life “God’s Not Dead,” a Polk State University student was given zeros simply because she disagreed with her professor on Christianity and was not willing to bow her knee to his anti-theism.
Sixteen-year-old Grace Lewis, a Polk State student, disagreed with Professor Lance “L.J.” Russum’s assessments of the teachings of Christianity.
Russum, a humanities professor, allegedly did exactly what the professor in the film God’s Not Dead did. He allegedly forced the students to deny the existence of God. Furthermore, he challenged that the God of the Bible wanted to silence women and said that the sculptures and paintings of Michelangelo’s seemed to imply that sodomy was not a sin.
His course objectives state:
You are under no obligation to agree with classmates, authors, or the instructor, in fact, the instructor will often occupy the space of “Devil’s Advocate” for the purpose of lively discussion. Questions: I ask three kinds of questions: reading, interpretive and critical. Reading questions ask about feeling, subject, content, plot, the literal story-line. Interpretive questions ask about thinking, theme, figurative language, symbolism, and form. Critical questions ask about evaluating, judging, taste, period, history, politics, and ethics. Interpretive and critical questions usually contain phrases like “do you think” or “why do you suppose.”
One of the assignments Lewis received told her to read several articles and then respond to the following questions:
- What is something Lady Julian is saying/doing that women should not be saying/doing at that time under the Christian mythos?
- From the article on the Nuns what makes their defiance of male dominance so important?
- Why did Christianity, and its male gods, want to silence these women?
NOTE: For the reading on the Nuns there are questions on the last page DO NOT ANSWER them, they are just part of the original article. You are to only answer the above three questions. SECOND, and this is VERY important, I DO NOT want you to write about how wonderful you think Christianity is now because women can do A, B, or C. History is history and facts are facts and your opinion on if it is better now or not is irrelevant for this discussion. This is a HISTORICAL discussion about the middle ages. If you really feel the need to express your opinion on how you think Christianity is now for women you may email me, you may call my office or I would love for you to stop by for a nice cup of hot tea where we can talk about it but it does not belong in this assignment. The pieces your are reading a from some of the greatest expressions of mythology by women ever, the question is to honor that voice in that moment of history.
Lewis disagreed with Russum over his obvious bigotry and anti-theism in a lengthy, documented response. She concluded her response:
In conclusion, the questions assigned are not open-minded questions. They instead are designed to lead course participants decisively to accept that Christianity is false and oppressive of women. Furthermore, these questions are objectively unanswerable, specifically when compared alongside the questions that we were instructed to neglect.
That’s coming from a sixteen year old! You go girl!
She was summarily given four consecutive zeros for her efforts.
Liberty Counsel released a statement in which they communicated the charges against the Polk State professor.
“G.L. and her parents reached out to Liberty Counsel when Russum gave her four (4) straight zeros because she refused to conform to his personal worldviews of Marxism, Atheism or “Anti-theism,” Feminism, and homosexuality,” reads the statement. “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]?”
“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 Michalengelo’s sculptures and paintings communicated that ‘same-sex relationship is NOT A SIN,’ Mr. Russum gave her a total of four straight zeros,” the statement added.
Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel Mat Staver said, “Mr. Russum should not be permitted to use his position to punish students who do not conform to his anti-Christian views. Grace Lewis’ 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.”
Campus Reform also provided numerous examples of some of Russum’s assignments.
This Marxist professor’s email signature bears a quote from a Marxist, who praises Lenin, Stalin, the Khmer Rouge and Adolf Hitler. According to the website RateMyProfessors.com, several students have had run-ins with him over his overt Marxism. Some rated him favorably, but the reasons were sad because he made them “question everything.” Perhaps mom and dad didn’t instill in these kids firm foundations and that is why they question everything and thought that was a good thing, especially when you are discussing utopian Marxism, right?
However, one comment stood out in particular. “He spent our first 3-hour class belittling religions and even atheism, while glorifying his beliefs. He says we should ‘discuss.’ He just wants us to adopt his contradicting ideas as he shuts down our own. He graded too harshly for someone who doesn’t teach honors. He was not helpful and didn’t take the time to get know the students.”
Liberty Counsel has stepped in and demanded the Mr. Russum’s behavior and course content be reviewed; that Lewis be given proper grading by a different professor for the ones she received zeros in; that a written apology be issued to Ms. Lewis; and that assurances be given that is Russum is allowed to continue to teach such courses that he will not provide such unlawful discrimination.
As for Lewis, she appeared on FOX News and said, “This is not what education should be,” Lewis said.
Eileen Holden, president of Polk State University, said in a statement, “This accusation is baseless, without merit, and completely lacking factual support.”
Well Ms. Holden, from the material that we can review and the testimony not only of Lewis, but of other students on RateMyProfessors.com, I think there is ample support to warrant an investigation and if necessary, legal action against Mr. Russum and possibly Polk State University.
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