The following story by the Associated Press (via the First Amendment Center) provides further evidence that conservatives, particularly those of the religious fundamentalist persuasion, “tend to be more rigid and closed-minded [and] less tolerant of ambiguity,” not to mention metaphorically challenged:
DES MOINES, Iowa â€” A college instructor in Red Oak claims he was fired after he told his students that the biblical story of Adam and Eve is a fairy tale and should not be interpreted literally.
Steve Bitterman, 60, said officials at Southwestern Community College sided with a handful of students who threatened legal action over his Sept. 18 remarks in a western civilization class. He said he was fired on Sept. 20.
”I’m just a little bit shocked myself that a college in good standing would back up students who insist that people who have been through college … have to teach that there were such things as talking snakes or lose their job,” Bitterman said.
”As a taxpayer, I’d like to know if a tax-supported public institution of higher learning has given veto power over what can and cannot be said in its classrooms to a fundamentalist religious group.”
School President Barbara Crittenden would not comment on whether Bitterman was fired over the Bible reference, saying it was a personnel issue.
“I can assure you that the college understands our employees’ free-speech rights,” she said. ”There was no action taken that violated the First Amendment.”
Bitterman, who taught part time at Southwestern and Omaha’s Metropolitan Community College, says he uses the Old Testament in his western civilization course and teaches it from an academic standpoint.
He said some students thought the Sept. 18 lesson belittled their religion.
”I put the Hebrew religion on the same plane as any other religion. Their god wasn’t given any more credibility than any other god,” Bitterman said. ”I told them it was an extremely meaningful story, but you had to see it in a poetic, metaphoric or symbolic sense, that if you took it literally, that you were going to miss a whole lot of meaning there.”
Bitterman said he called the story of Adam and Eve a fairy tale in a conversation with a student after the class and was told the students had threatened to see an attorney.
He said the college, by firing him, ”is essentially teaching their students very well to function in the 8th century.” [full text]