Prof. to student: Remove Christian references or fail

Sunday, June 28, 2015
Michael F. Haverluck (

A University of Wisconsin professor allegedly instructed her student to remove all biblical references from her project … or receive a failing grade on the assignment.

A Closer LookThe student, Rachel Langeberg, was threatened by University of Wisconsin Anthropology and Sociology Professor Annette Kuhlmann, who insisted that the Christian faith has no place in her classroom … or on the college campus, for that matter.

“The University of Wisconsin is a secular institution … Religious contemplations and the bible [sic] belong to a different realm and not academic sources,” Kuhlmann wrote on Langeberg’s project, according to Liberty Counsel, the Christian legal firm representing her. “So your argumentation along Christian lines, including the slides you designed in relation to it, are [sic] inappropriate for this presentation.”

No Bible … no questions

Dr. Kuhlmann noted that the mere mention of faith themes and the inclusion of a Bible verse in her student’s PowerPoint presentation — which was assigned as part of a group project on arson and its causes in the professor’s crime and criminal justice class — needed to be completely taken out … or else.

“You will also fail your presentation if your [sic] discuss religion in connection with it,” Kuhlmann warned Langeberg, a student on the University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County campus in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Kuhlmann made it clear in her remarks on Langeberg’s project that any references to religion are not welcome in her class and will not be tolerated.

“Starting with slide #9 you use religion and the bible [sic] as a source,” Kuhlmann pointed out to her student. “While I can personally appreciate and respect your religious life we are living in a society that separates church and state; the University of Wisconsin is a secular institution.”

According to Kuhlmann, America’s rich Christian heritage must be ignored as having any cultural historical relevance to any topic being discussed in her class.

“Religious contemplations and the [B]ible belong to a different realm and not academic sources,” the professor commented. “I will not allow you to present unless you change this. Through several discussions Rachel is very well aware of these boundaries and it is disturbing that you do not abide by it.”

Backing down to later stand up

Through fear and intimidation, Kuhlmann managed to persuade Langeberg to cut out all references to Christianity in her project. The worried student was also concerned that if she didn’t modify her assignment, she would adversely affect the grades of other students in her group.

Langeberg decided to seek legal advice and representation from Liberty Counsel after nothing was resolved in her meeting with Kuhlmann and UW’s dean.

It is argued by Liberty Counsel attorney Richard Mast that Langeberg’s professor “crossed the line from scholarship to censorship” because she violated her student’s free speech rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

“Students do not lose their First Amendment rights when they sign up for classes at the University of Wisconsin,” Mast contended. “It is blatantly unconstitutional to restrict student religious speech or threaten a failing grade for religious content, where the speech or content is otherwise academically appropriate for the assignment.”

Lingeberg included both sociological causes and biblical explanations  while discussing the causes of arson in her assignment, which also touched on the aspect of sin and how people are internally “bent” or wired to do wrong, according to The Blaze.

Liberty Counsel maintains that Kuhlmann’s original guidelines for the course did not explain some of the later requirements that she used to “justify” her banishment of references to Christianity.

“The professor reportedly later said that the biblical inclusions were not permissible due to the fact that they were not peer reviewed, though the Liberty Counsel said in its letter that the syllabus never outlined that requirement,” the Blaze reports. “The Liberty Counsel is demanding that the professor remedy her ‘unconstitutional hostility’ by writing an email apology to Langeberg and her group members, as well as sending an email to the entire class that includes the original PowerPoint, indicating that she made a mistake.”

If the university officials do not respond to the Christian legal group’s demand letter by July 3 and comply to rectify the situation, it will pursue legal action on behalf of the censored UW student.

University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County Dean Dr. Tracy White asserted that officials will not divulge its plans to the media for handling the matter for the time being.

“We have reviewed the matter, and we appreciate the dialogue that has involved the student, her family and the professor,” White told The Blaze. “We are not in a position to discuss the matter further, out of our need to respect the student’s privacy, in accordance with federal law. Our campus and classrooms are and always have been inclusive places that respect diverse backgrounds, viewpoints and the need to maintain the highest academic standards.”

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