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Professor sent email with religious message -- is it crossing a line?

SuperSenior19SuperSenior19 179 replies8 threads Junior Member
Hi everybody,
The title basically says it all, but I'll explain a little more. One of my classes is a big lecture (probably 250 students) and only meets once a week. So, none of us know the professor very well & it's considered a blowoff class.

Throughout the semester, our teacher would periodically send the class short, motivational emails (eg, "Good luck on midterms") and some longer ones (for instance, we had a discussion about mental health & he sent us some information about the counseling office, hotlines, etc). No problem.

Our last class was this week & the final is online. He sent us an email with some info about the final & then said all the normal things teachers say at the end of the semester about how great the class was, feel free to contact him if we need anything, etc.

Then the last paragraph (maybe 5 sentences) was all about his religious beliefs -- alluded to the afterlife, talked about Jesus and the Bible, and said a bunch of stuff about "peace" and "hope" and "God's love."

I felt really uncomfortable after reading that. Even though I am religious, I don't think it's a proper topic of conversation from a teacher. It wasn't a small note either, it was an entire paragraph specifically about Christianity, not just religion in general. The class has nothing to do with religion.

I go to a public university. Is this allowed? Should I say something? Am I wrong in thinking this crossed a line? I'm a freshman, so I don't really know if this is "normal."

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Replies to: Professor sent email with religious message -- is it crossing a line?

  • historyfreakmidahistoryfreakmida 36 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I agree with the above poster... Choose your battles. If you think it was highly innappropriate then I suppose you should mention it to someone or maybe even the professor himself. And like ^ said, evaluate how much harm this has caused you.
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  • sushirittosushiritto 4536 replies17 threads Senior Member
    I’d let it go too. Move on.
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  • SuperSenior19SuperSenior19 179 replies8 threads Junior Member
    Hi guys,
    Thanks for the advice. To clarify -- I wasn't really planning on making an official "complaint," because I feel like that would be too harsh, but I was thinking about saying something to the professor directly. Based on your comments, I still might, but I probably won't. I will say that the email was a little more strongly-worded than how I originally described it (it did give me that vibe of trying to "convert" people), but mostly I just wanted to know if I was crazy for thinking it was inappropriate. Rant over :)
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  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing 2213 replies103 threadsForum Champion Williams College Forum Champion
    At a public university, yes. It is out of line. As an administrator in a public K-12 setting, I definitely would have had an advisory meeting with any teacher who had sent something like that out in writing.

    If I were you, I would assume good intentions on the professor’s part. After your grade is out, you might go see the professor, and express that you appreciated his good wishes but would have felt more included and comfortable if he had made the good wishes without reference to a deity in which not all students believe.

    But only you can decide how strongly you feel about the issue and what role you want to have in addressing it.

    This brings back a memory for me. I remember when my son’s high school chorus teacher chose explicitly religious pieces for the spring concert and laughingly told the chorus that she could get away with it in spring because only the December concert is scrutinized for that. On the one hand, we felt that music is an art form and that it was not proselytizing per se to include a piece of music that mentions a deity. On the other hand, it was almost every song! My son debated saying something to the teacher, but then made another choice. He said nothing, and just dropped out of the choir for the next year.
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5783 replies84 threads Senior Member
    I agree with minors. And k thru 12. These are all adults and can certainly hit the delete button.

    I would post something on the Teachers rating site or schools reddit page.

    However, before we condemn the prof, I would ask myself would we feel the same way if he made a comment about supporting a campus protest or announcing some unpopular speaker coming campus -something along those lines. Maybe but I would guess probably not. If the answer is honestly no, then I’d let it ride.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79704 replies712 threads Senior Member
    However, before we condemn the prof, I would ask myself would we feel the same way if he made a comment about supporting a campus protest or announcing some unpopular speaker coming campus -something along those lines. Maybe but I would guess probably not. If the answer is honestly no, then I’d let it ride.

    Protesters/etc. are not speaking on behalf of the school, nor do they have grading power over students.
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5783 replies84 threads Senior Member
    I’m saying if the prof did. Like at oberlin and many others. I could care less what students say to each other.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79704 replies712 threads Senior Member
    I’m saying if the prof did. Like at oberlin and many others. I could care less what students say to each other.

    Wouldn't there be a difference between the instructor promoting religion in the context of the class (i.e. as a representative of the school and where there is implicit power over the students) versus outside of class (i.e. as a personal matter or belief)?
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5783 replies84 threads Senior Member
    Yes. I was thinking if he was a politics prof and sent a class an ok to miss class for the big protest. If I disagreed with that protest isnt it the same thing?

    Would we see at as unseemly as his more positive yet controversial message.

    It was just a thought about being balanced.
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  • PublisherPublisher 9040 replies110 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2019
    We still do not know the precise wording of the 5 sentence paragraph.

    Plus, would opinions change if this is a class in religion or theology or philosophy ?
    edited December 2019
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35101 replies398 threads Senior Member
    I think we had a similar thread a few years ago. And kinda decided it was the prof's automatic insert, a personal comment.

    You can call it "his testimony. " Important in some faith sorts.

    It would bug me, but only insofar that he didn't separate the work from the personal affirmation. Especially the work with younger folks he's teaching.

    Might talk to my advisor, to vent and learn more. But not get bent out of shape when your own mission is your education and future prospects.

    Smile and nod. Or grin and bear it. ?

    Btw. It's sometimes interesting and surprising to interact with others who have strong differing perspectives. A very "liberal" approach. Think about it.

    If he isn't favoring other Christian students or disrupting the education flow, can you shrug this off? Live and let be?
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  • roethlisburgerroethlisburger 2929 replies161 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2019
    I don’t find the K-12 situation analogous. Parents get to choose how to raise their kids, and part of that can be preventing them from being exposed to religious beliefs. Parents may worry that hearing a Christmas song in the school choir will convert them and cause their child to want a baptism. The OP is an adult, not some gullible child who will change their whole belief system, based on reading a single email.
    edited December 2019
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