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Re: Church Stuff On Taxpayer Paid Site?

XXX YYYY  wrote:

> Mr. Crew, 

> I have read a number of articles and files posted on or 
> within your website.  Even though I sometimes disagree with your 
> editorial slant where that appears, I find the documents and data 
> that you post to be highly accurate.
> I do have a question, though.  Your website is located on the server:
> <newark.rutgers.edu
> As far as I can determine, this is the server (or one of the servers)
> for the Newark campus of Rutgers University -- a computer facility
> supported in part with taxpayer dollars.
> How have you been able to have all your articles, discussion
> boards and other files related to things within the ECUSA on that 
> server system?  I would have thought that the university 
> administrators would have insisted that that religious-related 
> content be removed from the taxpayer supported facility -- 
> separation of church and state and all those issues with which 
> the ACLU loves to make headlines.  The case law in
> that area is quite extensive, and very intimidating. 
> We are looking to something similar at one of the 
> state-supported schools here, and we are looking for ideas 
> from a strategy that has worked. 
> Thanks for your help and any information.

Good question, and one that I have asked myself several times during my 12
years here.  I cannot point to an official policy statement, but offer you
my general impressions out of having benefited Rutgers generous computing
support for the entire time I have been here.

More than the other state institutions where I have worked (others: Auburn
U., U. of Alabama, University System of Georgia, Chinese University of
Hong Kong, Beijing Foreign Language Institute, and University of
Wisconsin), Rutgers supports faculty and students in our services to
religious communities and in our scholarship related to religion.  
Chaplains here report generous provision of space for meetings (but not
for worship).  Various offices of student affairs give generous access to
the names of students in their denominations....

The Supreme Court has frequently argued that the Constitution guarantees
freedom 'of' religion; it does not require freedom 'from' religion.  The
Constitution protects us from the State's establishment of a religion.  
In none of my activities have I ever sought to have the State establish or
endorse my religion.

I teach a course in the Bible As Literature.  It is an elective course,
not required of anyone.  See my syllabus for Hebrew Scriptures, last fall,
at http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/343.html and my syllabus for Christian
Scriptures, this new semester, at
http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/344.html.  Supreme Court decisions have
held that such courses are important offerings to have in a state
education, as are courses in the holy texts of other religions, as would
be courses is atheistic and humanistic philosophies.

I would be completely out of order if I used my classroom as a platform to
convert persons to Christianity or to insist that they read the texts as
'The Word of God.' I would be criminal were I to use the classroom as a
worship service.  I have no desire to abuse students in those ways.  
Instead, I am an educator, and it is appropriate for an educators to ask
students to evaluate the effects on discourse when communities privilege
texts 'The Word of God' and as a means of worshipping God.

Rutgers most conspicuous service to Christian discourse is our hosting of
soc.religion.christian -- moderated by the head of computing at Rutgers,
my colleague Charles Hedrick, a prominent Presbyterian lay person.  His is
an enormous service to the religious community.

Rutgers faculty are steadily evaluated on three criteria for promotion and
tenure decisions:  Scholarship, Teaching, and Service.  In Chuck's case,
religion is vital to his scholarship and his service to the community.  
In my case, religion is vital to my work here in all three areas.

I am enormously grateful that Rutgers has been generous rather than stingy
in its responses to the important legal issues at stake here.  I hope that
my students benefit by the skills and experience that I gain in my
scholarship and in my attempts to service the religious community.

Best wishes in your own effort to serve and to educate.


Louie Crew, 377 S. Harrison St., #12D, East Orange, NJ 07018-1225
http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew   973-395-1068
Hungry?  Feast on Father Gallup's Homily Grits at http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/grits.html

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