Atheist group demands apology from Troy chancellor

Jan 6, 2015

By Carly Omenhiser

What started as a holiday message to students and faculty from Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr., has now turned into a religious debate and the American Atheists demanding a public apology from the school’s leader.

On Dec. 30, Hawkins sent a message out to students and faculty containing a video that he said “speaks to America’s greatness and its vulnerability.”

The video, which has nearly a half million views on the video sharing website YouTube, is of Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen recalling a conversation with a Marxist from China who was completing a fellowship at Harvard.

Christensen said the economist told him before leaving that he had no idea how critical religion was to the functioning of democracy.

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39 comments on “Atheist group demands apology from Troy chancellor

  • Anecdotal straw man, represent!

    Are people that gullible to believe his little story, or maybe, is sarcasm from a Chinese Economist (I know, must be as rare as unicorn poop) lost on a University Chancellor? On second thought, why not both.

    Classic God Apologist projection manoeuver either way. Reminds me of Dinesh d’Souza. He’s quite partial to these kind of antics. Works on their lowest common denominator.

    In any case, I would not give that kind of ‘controversy’ more than 5 minutes of thoughts. Let alone cry about it and make everyone look like whinging assholes.

    Apologise!… Why?

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  • ” Christensen said the economist told him before leaving that he had no idea how critical religion was to the functioning of democracy. ”

    Really? I would like that statement verified by the economist in question as this story sounds like pure BS.

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  • OP :

    Christensen said the economist told him before leaving that he had no idea how critical religion was to the functioning of democracy.

    Hah, I have to laugh ! Since when was Christianity “democratic” ? Maybe, just maybe when it was first adopted by the slaves of the Roman Empire. But once it was blessed with the political power of the Empire in the 4th century, it mercilessly exterminated all those opposing religions it could. And it continued in like vein, with political support from the various (unelected) leaders for well over 1000 years.

    I wonder if the Chinese economist will ever visit Europe, and see how unimportant religion is to the functioning of “democracy” here, at least in the more prosperous and advanced countries.

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  • Shouldn’t the figures imprisoned and Recidivism mean that ALL Americans will eventually end up in prison at one point or another 🙂

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  • Clearly US citizens are just bad to the bone…

    What the figures don’t show are the ethnic and therefore socio-economic profiles involved. An awesome book “On the Run” shows just how this uber “policing dilligence” manufactures criminals out of mostly poor uppity teens (and uppity is the natural state for a teen).

    Religion so clearly fails to deliver the society the religious seek. Their hyper sensitivity to disrespectful behaviour and a dull-witted, visceral need to punish the young for it, creates a near perfect self-sustaining hell on earth.

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  • The level of bad behaviour went up a notch as, through my sons, we made it to a “better” class of social status. I am sorry to say the girls were by far the worse. I can only suppose that these kids got away with it because they were taxied everywhere by their parents mostly so they never came in contact with the authorities.

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  • The video ends with Christensen saying, “If you take away religion, you can’t hire enough police.”

    I’m having trouble joining the dots here. “If you take away the English channel, mexicans will eat more tomatoes.” Yep. I can see the link.

    This is just the standard and totally debunked myth that you can’t be good unless you believe in the Christian god.

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  • ” I have to laugh ! Since when was Christianity “democratic” ?”
    Did the Chinese economist mention Christianity at all? I have no evidence of this from the posts I have read.
    it looks more like he (based on his experience) suggested democracy cannot function without religion (presumably whatever religion happens to be the prominent one in the subject democracy).
    As others here have suggested, it’s possible that he was just being facetious, but if so would the professor have been so clueless as to have not picked up on this?
    Maybe we’re all missing something here.

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  • I can never quite tell what the motivation is for these kinds of outbursts.

    And frankly my dears, I don’t give a damn.

    I only know that they must at all costs and at all times be repudiated.

    The troglodytes must not be permitted to drag us back down into the medieval mire.

    What a shame it is that time and energy has to be wasted on challenging this kind of tripe.

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  • The motivation is political. Intimidate the non-believers into thinking they are wrong and force conformity.

    The university response sees it as otherwise:

    A statement from Troy University said the email sent by Hawkins was meant to “spur introspection and encourage thoughtful discussion as we transition from the challenges of 2014 to the opportunities ahead in 2015,” the statement reads. “Troy University is an international university that contributes regularly to the global marketplace of ideas. This message and video were shared to provide the university community with information and insights for healthy consideration and debate about our country’s democracy, the role it plays in the world and the challenges America faces going forward.”

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  • 17
    Lorenzo says:

    The video ends with Christensen saying, “If you take away religion, you can’t hire enough police.”

    Phil’s comment up here brings some evidence that indicate that, perhaps, without religion, you might not need those policemen in the first place. So you ain’t need hiring them.

    Also, something I’m thinking about these days is: christianity actually actively promotes distrust in humankind, through the doctrine of the original sin. We are all sinners, we are all guilty, we are all bad to the bone and we might be saved just if we suffer enough. This looks more like the foundadtion act of a criminality factory rather than a moral system, if you ask me.

    If you live in a world of original sinners and guilty people, you’re bound to barricade yourself in your mansion surrounded by all kinds of guns to protect yourself from whoever passes by, just in case god didn’t save that one just yet… reminds you of some place where gun ownership (for protection!) is very common, legal and often praised?

    *Actually, the idea that humans did something wrong is rooted in the Genesis book but, in the other two big monotheistic religions, the guilt and sin of the deed seems to be taken somewhat to less extremes than in christianity. Still, I think it’s poisonous to morality and actually the well being of a society to hold the idea that humankind did something wrong from the very beginning.

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  • I think its more a way of answering the question of “why am I bad and you are good and why should I bother to try to be good”. Another way for the pious religious leaders to show they are just like the ‘normal’ people and they struggle with sin as well. ‘Look my son, I have done it and so can you’. The ‘American Dream’ of religion.

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  • 19
    Rosbif says:

    Dear Mr Christensen,
    Could you please explain why a couple of hours ago, people who believed devoutly in god just killed 12 innocent people at the Charlie Hebdo satirical news paper offices in Paris?
    Is this what you mean by democracy needing people accountable to god? Should one be more accountable to god than to society?

    An Atheist who does not have an invisible friend to blame for immoral acts against others.

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  • 20
    Rosbif says:

    Proposed definition for Atheist:
    “Someone who doesn’t believe that responsibility for one’s acts can be transferred to an invisible, unproven being.”

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  • yep another fine example of “religion helping democracy” with a perfectly resoned response to someone writing something funny.

    i’m sure as more news breaks we’ll find out from religious apologists that dispite appearences they actually put sugar on their porridge

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  • 23
    bonnie says:

    Chinese economist mention Christianity?

    No, David Silverman asserts it (paragraph seven).

    *Bottom line, Silverman is asking for an apology on behalf of a student complaint per the xmas message. Silverman further included all atheists for this is what he does, including persistent and rational defense of Atheism on television appearances.

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  • 24
    Lorenzo says:

    It might be a shortcut at elaborating guilt: as anoyone who’s been human long enough would know, our species doesn’t react very well under guilt, the default reaction is often to find someone else who’s responsile of the guilt’s source (sin). Blaming it on everybody -aka, I’ve done bad because everybody does- it’s a very good escape from responsibility… sport at which christians are champions.

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  • 26
    Jonn Mero says:

    My brother’s politically totally incorrect ‘life is too short to dance with an ugly girl’ should be applied here, – ‘the ugly girl’ of course being the religious dimwits and those pandering to them. For a university chancellor to be allowed to stoop to this level of stupidity just shows the lack of standard of the university, – obviously one to be avoided! And learn from the Monty Python-gang: humorous ridicule is the best weapon.

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  • I like the idea of demanding an apology. Of course that demand will also include a rebuttal. But rebuttals alone can be ignored. An apology requires the offender to actively participate and admit he was wrong.

    And yes, Philoctetes, I am offended. This gushingly pro-monotheism video, complete with lush, heartstring-plucking piano score (in case you didn’t know how you were supposed to feel), is basically repeating the Judeo-Christian-Islamic horse-whipping of atheists by claiming that you cannot be a good person without their god(s). Because religion and democracy both thrive here in the West, Mr. Christensen claims, by agreeing with his “Marxist economist” friend, that religion is RESPONSIBLE for the thriving democracy. Why does he not conclude the reverse – that democracy is responsible for the thriving of religion? I would like to see a few studies cited before reaching a conclusion either way. But one anecdote is enough for Mr. Christensen (and Troy State).

    Furthermore, even if the threat of divine punishment is why religious folks obey the law, I believe that if we taught our kids the Golden Rule, and the reasoning behind it, and if we shamed those who did not obey it, we would see at least as strong a democracy as we have now. And given that you can find support for practically anything in the Bible, I would say that the Golden Rule alone, without religion, would give us a much stronger democracy. I long for the day when that experiment can be done.

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  • Considering how Christianity has been used to justify things such as the “divine right of kings” to behave like swine, I wish we who call ourselves Christians would stop speaking for God on subjects where He has been silent and concentrate instead on loving our neighbors. Things like this video just embarrass the you know what out of me.

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  • Just a short note/observation.

    What is the demographic of the population of the prison system in the USA?

    Does it reflect the same or similar percentages of Christians to Atheists?

    THAT is the way you destroy that argument.

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  • I agree, we shouldn’t be asking for an apology, you don’t ask for apologies from idiots. He should be mocked somebody should be questioning whether or not he has the education he claims. After all, how could someone make such an absurd statement and have any education? Can he point out some statistics for our Scandinavian friends? high levels of debauchery and wrong doing? Of course not he’s an idiot we should make fun of him and mock him. Although be prepared will be accused of being insensitive and mean to Christians.

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  • As I recall it has even higher levels of self reported religiosity than the general population. 98%. This though might reflect the American perception of religiosity as a badge of goodness. Religion may be “got” as a defensive stance.

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  • Chancellor Hawkins issued an “apology” for his misunderstood letter, emailing to all Troy University Staff, Faculty, and Students. I have entitled it: Digging Deeper . . .

    The following message is sent on behalf of Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor:

    Dear Trojans:

    As we begin 2015, I welcome you back to campus and I look forward to another year of teaching, scholarship and service. In its evolution as Alabama’s international university, Troy University has become Alabama’s most diverse institution. Students come to us from more than 70 countries, represent all segments of the global community, speak more than 80 languages and they are people of many faiths. We honor their spiritual commitments and we emphasize the importance of tolerance and acceptance of other cultures and beliefs.

    The recent New Year’s message I shared with the university community was not intended to offend. It was intended to encourage recipients to embrace the year ahead and to stimulate thought and discussion as to “why” America appears to be challenged at home and abroad.

    It is regretful my message was found offensive by some due to their assumption it was based upon my intent to promote religion. Nowhere in my personal message did I mention religion. It is also ironic the genesis of the video message narrated by Harvard professor Clay Christensen was an observation made by a visiting scholar from China—a Marxist economist spending time at Harvard as a Fulbright scholar.

    The Marxist economist concluded that American democracy has worked because the historic role of religion as a cornerstone of our society leads most Americans to “choose to obey the law.” Dr. Christensen expressed concern that as the influence of religion wanes in America, our nation will be left without institutions to teach this valuable lesson.

    American higher education values academic freedom and free speech. It also holds dear its role as offering a marketplace of ideas for this country and the world. Those ideas should span a broad spectrum—even if segments of our society are offended by the views and observations of those with whom they disagree. In the end it is truth we seek as a university community.

    As Chancellor of Troy University I have the obligation to share information with students, faculty, staff and alumni which I deem helpful in building a stronger community. In sharing the New Year’s message for 2015, information was presented which I believe will be helpful to all of us. Thus, regardless of your religion or political persuasion, I encourage all Trojans to work together as we address problems of concern to our state, nation and world. Happy New Year!

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  • Haha! Funny!

    How can these atheists be so affected by a comment as highlighted here?

    It’s like they’re becoming religious themselves by validating what they
    perceive to abhor. Maybe they’re ‘born again’ atheists – the kind that gets all excited on discovering that the earth actually goes around the sun.

    Demanding an apology? Who do they think they are?

    I’m almost embarrassed to be an atheist! 😉

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  • Asking for an apology is a way to continue the effort to expose lies. I don’t think anyone really expects an apology, it’s just a strong way, another way of saying; “hey, wait , that’s a lie”.

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  • @P – Christensen said the economist told him before leaving that he had no idea how critical religion was to the functioning of democracy.

    Gods are the gap-fillers of the ignorant, and as such can be depended on by politicians and officials, who are just talking, while they try to think of something relevant to say!

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