A philosophy instructor is sueing for the right to tell his students he’s a “Catholic Christian philosopher and theologian.” James Tuttle argues that discussing how his faith has shaped his thinking is relevant to class discussions on moral philosophy. When a student complained, Lakeland Community College cut Tuttle’s teaching hours, denied his seniority rights, assigned him to classes he didn’t want to teach and threatened to fire him.
Tuttle warned students in the syllabi for two of his classes that he’s a “committed Catholic Christian philosopher and theologian,” notes FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), which is backing the professor.
The statement also encouraged any students who felt uncomfortable with Dr. Tuttle’s views or methods to feel free to talk to him about it outside of class.
“Dr. Tuttle made sure his students knew about his philosophical perspective even before they started his class, while, at the same time, making it clear that he wanted to engage every student. Such a policy of honesty and full disclosure should be encouraged, not punished,” commented FIRE’s David French.
. . . Since faculty members often disclose their political, ideological or philosophical beliefs without being punished, the suit points out that Lakeland has “arbitrarily singled out faculty’s speech on the topic of religion.”
Students usually prefer instructors who are up front about their beliefs.