I Don’t Want an Apology From Troy University Chancellor

Jack Hawkins, the chancellor of Troy University in Alabama, is taking some heat for sending out an ignorant and absurd New Year’s video to every student and professor at the college claiming that American democracy will crumble unless non-believers turn into Christians again. The video:

Jack Hawkins, the chancellor of Troy University, a public college based in Troy, Alabama sent the 90-second video as a “reminder” of what he called the “blessings” of American democracy – and its vulnerability to secularisation.

The video, narrated by Clayton Christensen, the Harvard Business School professor, cites an unnamed visiting Marxist economist from China who came to Harvard and discovered “how critical religion is to the functioning of democracy.”

The video recited a familiar theme among the America religious right – that the decline of church-going is responsible a rising tide of lawlessness and a moral decay that could ultimately lead to America’s fall, as it did for Rome’s.

“What will happen to our democracy? Where are the institutions that are going to teach the next generation of Americans that they too need to voluntarily obey the laws?” asks Mr Christensen on the video. “Because if you take away religion, you can’t hire enough police.”

I know, right? Just like all the nations of Europe, all far less religious than we are, have collapsed as a result. And yet our far more Christian country has far higher rates of poverty, teen pregnancy, violent crime and many other social ills. This is just dumb. But you know what I don’t want? An apology.

American Atheists, the leading atheist pressure group in the US, said it was demanding an apology after receiving a complaint from a Troy student who was offended by the message.

“We demand an apology from you for using the public university email system and your publicly funded position to disparage atheists and minority religious groups as well as perpetuating the discrimination and anti-patriotic sentiment against atheists in the United States,” wrote David Silverman, the group’s president.

But what would an apology mean if he gave one? He actually believes this nonsense. Any apology would be fake and meaningless even if he did offer one.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • http://zenoferox.blogspot.com/ Zeno

    The most meaningful apology would be a resignation.

  • lldayo

    I think it depends on the way he apologizes. If he comes out and says, “I believe what I believe but I apologize for being a righteous toolbag.” I don’t see how you could turn that down.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    …an unnamed visiting Marxist economist from China who came to Harvard and discovered “how critical religion is to the functioning of democracy.”

    I’m guessing said Marxist was referring to the fact that you have to be part of the right religion to get the full benefit of our democracy.

    …a familiar theme among the America religious right – that the decline of church-going is responsible a rising tide of lawlessness and a moral decay that could ultimately lead to America’s fall, as it did for Rome’s.

    Someone needs to tell this guy that Rome fall AFTER it became predominantly Christian, not before. And the Christians didn’t really replace it with anything better, until secular progressives started inventing better political and economic institutions — all of which the most devoutly religious people HATED FROM DAY ONE.

  • scienceavenger

    …the decline of church-going is responsible a rising tide of lawlessness…

    But there isn’t a rising ride of lawlessness in America. Crime statistics are down across the board, and have been for decades.

    American Atheists, the leading atheist pressure group in the US, said it was demanding an apology …

    Fuck that. I’m sick to death of calls for apologies. What are we, in kindergarten? Apologies mean nothing. Fix the damage you did, that’s the best apology.

  • https://www.facebook.com/joseph.sexton.7 Joseph Sexton

    In 1969, Montreal was heavily catholic, home to a magnificent cathedral, and home to a number of religious orders. One day, the Montreal police went on strike. The result? 16 hours of chaos, including bank robberies, looting, arson and the murder of a provincial police officer. Apparently, religion does nothing to instill voluntary obedience to the law, and you can, in fact, hire enough police officers to keep the populace in line.

    Apparently, Prof. Hawkins’ academic specialty is not history.

  • Kevin Kehres

    @5 — and apparently in “atheistic” New York City, a complete slowdown by NYC police results in … wait for it … NOTHING!

  • Abby Normal

    But what would an apology mean if he gave one? He actually believes this nonsense.

    The American Atheists aren’t asking him to apologize for his beliefs. He’s being asked to apologize for using university resources and his position as chancellor to promote his beliefs. He can keep his beliefs and still recognize that what he did was wrong.

  • raven

    and a moral decay that could ultimately lead to America’s fall, as it did for Rome’s.

    Someone needs to tell this guy that Rome fall AFTER it became predominantly Christian,

    True.

    For the chancellor of a university, Dr. Hawkins is remarkably ignorant. He has apparently never heard of Google or Wikipedia.

    Rome was xian when it fell. Not only that, but the so called barbarians who pushed it over were….Arian xians themselves. While blaming xianity for the fall of Rome is stretching a point, it certainly didn’t prevent it either.

  • http://florilegia.wordpress.com Ibis3, These verbal jackboots were made for walking

    If that Chinese Marxist student really exists, it doesn’t say much for him that his “realization” was an uncritical observation of bullshit. Religion may be pretty pervasive in American “democracy” but what about democracy in Norway or Sweden, or even in Canada? I just watched some videos of a show called Norden on YouTube where they bring foreign people (so far Americans) to tour the Nordic countries with reference to certain institutions so they can compare what goes on at home with what goes on there. The latest episode was on policing. The LA cop was amazed to spend an afternoon walking about a small city in I believe it was Norway and not encounter any cops–and not encounter any crimes or frightened people either. So much for the idea that without much religion democracy would fail and society devolve into violent anarchy which would then require an infinite army of police to control.

  • http://florilegia.wordpress.com Ibis3, These verbal jackboots were made for walking

    Link to Norden episode about police: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbM9uCxEJDM

    There are also episodes in which an American evangelical pastor explores religion and lack thereof and a retired prison warden from New York looks at Nordic correctional facilities.

  • moarscienceplz

    So, a Harvard Business School professor thinks that more church-going makes people obey the law more, does he? It’s interesting that the Teapot Dome scandal, and the original Ponzi scheme both took place in the 1920’s when church attendance was much higher than today. Or do they not teach about those things at the Harvard Business School?

  • Sastra

    Yes, what Abby Normal said at #7. If the video had been racist and sent out through university channels there’d have to be an apology for doing that. Apologizing for being a bigot would be an unexpected bonus.

    There is some value to people feeling they have to go through the motions. If there wasn’t, the homophobes wouldn’t be complaining about being “closeted.”

  • anubisprime

    the decline of church-going

    It seems that various jeebus drooling fans have pulled their asinine heads out of the sand and have perceived that the borders of their known universe are shrinking and diminishing day by day.

    A little reality for the doofus gleaned from the Hartford Institute of Religion Research Research,…

    Frightening stats for the deluded…

    more than 40 percent of Americans “say” they go to church weekly. As it turns out, however, about 20 percent are actually in church. In other words, more than 80 percent of Americans are finding more fulfilling things to do on weekends

    That is a massively steep mountain trail to trudge up there kapitano!… furthermore dealing with xtians who are known to lie does not make the task any easier.

    Somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 churches close their doors every year. Southern Baptist researcher, Thom Rainer, in a recent article entitled “13 Issues for Churches in 2013” puts the estimate higher. He says between 8,000 and 10,000 churches will likely close this year.

    Again the tipping point has passed well and truly now it is definite decline, and not even stagnation, it is not likely in any universe that those figures could ever reverse substantially to their former glory.

    Between the years 2010 and 2012, more than half of all churches in America added not one new member. Each year, nearly 3 million more previous churchgoers enter the ranks of the “religiously unaffiliated.”

    .

    And that is the proverbial nail in their collective coffin, more then half the churches report no new membership…devastating really.

    Ranting and railing against atheism might impress the diehard legions but the writing is there plain and clear.

    It is desperation at the realization they are dying and the whole edifice of the meme is slipping slowly but surely into the tar pit of historical ridiculousness.

  • Michael Heath

    …an unnamed visiting Marxist economist from China who came to Harvard and discovered “how critical religion is to the functioning of democracy.”

    That’s as powerful an argument as referring to, “some guy on the Internet”.

  • dingojack

    Anubisprime —

    24 Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.

    25 And this is the writing that was written, Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.

    26 This is the interpretation of the thing: Mene; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.

    27 Tekel; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.

    28 Peres; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

    Dingo

  • Synfandel

    …claiming that American democracy will crumble unless non-believers turn into Christians again.

    “Again?” I, for one, would find it difficult to turn into a Christian “again”, never having been one.

  • Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    But what would an apology mean if he gave one? He actually believes this nonsense.

    Jack Hawkins is an official of a public university. He should be apologizing for defaming groups of people. In addition to defaming some groups, his argument is almost solely dependent on lies beyond his defamation. The only true [inferred] premise I noticed in what’s written in Ed’s blog post above was the country’s becoming less religious.

    Troy U. is a public college. Public educators should be held accountable when they promote sectarian religion. We didn’t delegate any power to any politicians to use their goverment position to promote Christianity or any other religion. So Chancellor Hawkins needs to apologize for arguing from his government position of authority that we should grant additional powers to the state that even the framers knew would infringe upon our freedom of conscience rights. (Hence not just the religious freedom clause to the 1st Amendment, but the establishment clause as well.)

    Lastly, Chancellor Hawkins’ job is to educate people, not misinform them. So it’s especially reprehensible that a government official is misinforming the public.

  • Synfandel

    anubisprime, another factor that will accelerate the decline of church-going over time is that the children of increasing numbers of parents who have ceased to attend church are unlikely to take it up voluntarily. The social pressure to attend church services, passed down through families, is removed and the cycle of indoctrination is broken.

    A personal case in point: My parents stopped going to church as soon as they left their parents’ homes (circa 1950). My siblings and I have never felt any urge to take up the practice.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    anubisprime @ # 12 – I went to the report you linked, and could not find any of the quotations you blockquoted. ??!?

  • eric

    I agree with Michael Heath @16: Since he sent this out in his role as chancellor, he should apologize in his role as chancellor. Even if its insincere, it shows that the school is willing to force their chancellor to acknowledge it when he does something wrong; it shows the school administration does not condone what the chancellor did.

  • anubisprime

    Yes indeed, peer pressure from group and family was a massive incentive to tow the ‘party’ line.

    That cycle seems to be coming apart, young adults are moving further from the traditional home then they used to for work, the chains of community although strong in the local area has no hold when victims are somewhat removed from that sphere of influence.

    The shackles are not so robust as they were a couple of generations ago, the pressure is reduced and the majority appear to want secular freedoms in their life, and not the drudgery of kissing the pastor’s ass whatever the sermon and whatever the inanity expressed.

    Added to that the internet has really been the dagger to the heart of religious affiliation, certain claims and assertions can be checked against a massive global database, and mostly found wanting, that genii is out of the bottle …it ain’t going back in anytime soon.

    The killer is the actual legions that profess to be jeebus sunbeams, their average age is tilting to the elderly side of the scale.

    In Ireland, for example, the RCC fear that after another 5 -10 yrs they will run out of priests that are Irish born, as natural wastage and retirement finish off the present majority of the church hierarchy, and there is no vast numbers of replacement as there were traditionally….Churches will simply close and be sold on eventually.

    The same is true of the actual congregations they are expected to fade along with their priests for roughly the same reasons…they are an aging and ultimately dying breed…

    This present generation is the most secular based ever witnessed in the religious history of Ireland…this ancient and traditional jewel in the Vatican crown has grown dull and splintered, the Vatican are still in shock and hoping it is just a temporary blip due to the horror and anger at the abuse scandals, but that is flying in the face of the actual reality…tis over Francis…suck it up kidda…two generations it is all but dead and very smelly.

    Belgium is even more spectacular in its religious decline…really devastating for the deluded that they are slipping in their death grip markedly by percentages that seemed fantasy not a decade ago.

    Literally the meme is dying on the vine everywhere, some places a little slower some a little faster…but all are going in the same direction.

    The USA is , or was, the last bastion of the xtian scam, and as such was impregnable just a quarter of a century ago, but it is crumbling from the inside, no external forces were necessary, and that kind of diminishment is usually the most convincing and always the most deadly to the meme.

    It will take a long time compared to other fading religious cultures for sure but then there was, and is, an awful lot to actually fade, but fade it will, that die is cast and nothing will reverse it, especially some unknown character whining about ‘a moral decay that could ultimately lead to America’s fall, as it did for Rome’s.’

    No one is really listening bud, only the brain dead, and they are just scandalized and not really motivated even if they knew what to do, which they don’t.

    Sorry for the rant, habit of a lifetime 😉

  • anubisprime

    Pierce R. Butler @ 18

    I went to the report you linked, and could not find any of the quotations you blockquoted. ??!?

    My apologies…I found the link below where I came across the Hartford link Included in # 12 and it seemed more appropriate to go direct to the source then the lead in.

    here

  • Donnie

    Synfandel says

    January 13, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    A personal case in point: My parents stopped going to church as soon as they left their parents’ homes (circa 1950). My siblings and I have never felt any urge to take up the practice.

    My personal case in point somewhat mirrors your point. My Mom did not come from a very religious family. My Dad came for a devout Roman Catholic upbringing – though Dad also wanted nothing to do with religion once he left house. My Mom actually got into it with Dad’s Mom when we visited. My parents did it right, they let my Sister choose. I choose to stay home and watch baseball while my Sister went through confirmations. She lives in GR (Grand Rapids), and married one of the majority of Christian Calvinists.

    Weird how she found solace in religion where I found nothing? At least, she is a very liberal Christian. I am interested in seeing how their kids handle religion once they are out of the house. And, of course, my Dad as well as my Mom now are finding solace in religion as they get older and have health scares.

    Religion, and religious beliefs, are weird?

  • some bastard on the internet

    Michael Heath @13

    That’s as powerful an argument as referring to, “some guy on the Internet”.

    Now, wait just a minute!

  • JPS

    This is probably better discussed elsewhere, but a question for pondering ….

    From anubisprime @12;

    Somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 churches close their doors every year. … [ a resesearcher] … says between 8,000 and 10,000 churches will likely close this year.

    Small businesses are put out of business by the big-box discount retailers opening in their area. I wonder if the “megachurches” pull members from the small churches and contribute to their demise?

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    Chinese Marxist

    That blew my BS-meter’s stator coil instantly. “Chinese Maoist” maybe but “Chinese Marxist”s didn’t survive The Cultural Revolution.

  • militantagnostic

    Marcus Ranum @25

    Good catch – “Unnamed” is the christian word for fictitious person.

    The video, narrated by Clayton Christensen, the Harvard Business School professor

    In other words someone who teaches grifters how to grift.

  • dan4

    @6, Uh, who said that New York City was “atheistic?” You have to show your work around here.

  • Gvlgeologist, FCD

    This:

    American Atheists, the leading atheist pressure group in the US, said it was demanding an apology after receiving a complaint from a Troy student who was offended by the message.

    kind of thing always bugs me. The problem isn’t that the student “was offended” – we have NO right not to be offended. The problem is that in this publicly funded university, the student’s (and in fact, everyone’s) rights under the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution were violated. You cannot have public endorsement of religion. Period.

  • anubisprime

    JPS @ 24

    I wonder if the “megachurches” pull members from the small churches and contribute to their demise?

    Fair question, I have no idea how many ‘megachurches the US has per state.

    But the only pertinent example I can think of was the famous Crystal Cathedral.

    If any ‘megachurch’ would show the way with financial success and numbers of bums on pews it is arguable that this edifice to the glitz and glamor of the spectacle of religion should have been the template and the way.

    Its own TV show, a enthusiastic congregation and a charismatic preacher, apparently well funded, what could possibly go wrong?

    It took 30yrs for the shit to finally hit the fan…but hit the fan it finally did.

    Only the deep pockets of Vatican inc. could in any way continue to run the gaff.

    No idea if it is considered a success these days…but there are not many copy cat ‘megachurches’, which kinda answers that question.

    It seems that the moderate run of the mill churches are losing clientele due to presumably being seen as just lip service to the meme, seems some jeebus fans like their religion strong and black a bit like the coffee.

    So evangelical scams seem to be doing good business, and it is usually the evangelicals that like their bigotry, intolerance’s and rules far more then the mainline charades , the fatuousness of biblical interpretation is a clue as to their attitudes.

    But it might well be a just a blip on the slope, for a culture that is so besotted with things supernatural and jeebussy that it is apparent that although the aura of traditional religion is fading many feel not confident enough to leave completely, they still need to believe that a sky daddy rules, so it seems to be more a weaning off exercise rather then a concerted upsurge in belief…

    At least that is my take, maybe folks with greater insight see it different, but whatever it is quite plain that the xtian religion is beginning to fade, and that which was once absolutely sacred is not any more, nor is it likely to be again.

    If the media grew a backbone and were a little more gifted with integrity and a better grasp of reality instead of constant sycophantic pandering to nonsense…it would fade a damn sight sooner.

  • martinc

    anubisprime @ 20:

    Yes indeed, peer pressure from group and family was a massive incentive to tow the ‘party’ line.

    Toe. You put your toe on a line to conform. The party line is not something you drag.

    Thank you. (dismounts personal hobby horse)

  • http://florilegia.wordpress.com Ibis3, These verbal jackboots were made for walking

    BTW, I made a comment with 3 links to episodes of Norden and tripped the moderation filter. The comment still hasn’t been approved, so I guess you’ll have to look them up yourselves if interested.

  • Artor

    …an unnamed visiting Marxist economist from China who came to Harvard and discovered “how critical religion is to the functioning of democracy.

    Two questions come to mind: WTF are they teaching about Marxism in China these days? And WTF are they teaching about democracy at Harvard these days?

  • helenaconstantine

    What Freud says in The Future of an Illusion is that if you take religion from poor people, and leave them poor while the people who exploit them become rich, then you wouldn’t be able to hire enough police. Europe can be atheist because poverty is greatly ameliorated there by social reforms. But there are no plans to do away with poverty in the US any time soon, so religion has to stay. Nice to see a University President admit he is on board with the scheme.

  • helenaconstantine

    Watching it. its worse than I could have imagined

    What other institution will each people to obey–really?

    An atheist character in one of Euripides’ lost satyr plays says, “When the force of law established public order, but men still did hidden wrong, then it was that some clever man invented the idea that there were gods to fear.”

    That’s basically what Hawkins is saying. We need the fiction of religion to maintain social order. it evidently does not occur to him to try to make the social order just instead.

  • dingojack

    Hell don’t ask for an apology, send in the Achaean Horse*…

    Dingo

    ———-

    * ‘Timeo Danaos et dona ferentis’