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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Andrew Stangl, President of the Society of Open Minded Atheists and Agnostics Defends Paul Mirecki

Andrew Stangl, the President of SOMA, the Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics at Kansas University has an oped in student newspaper today strongly defending Paul Mirecki:

Opinion: Don't judge private e-mail
by Andrew Stangl Published: Thursday, December 1, 2005

As I watched the news coverage of the recent incident involving Professor Paul Mirecki's creationism and intelligent design course, it quickly became apparent that people needed to hear the entire story. The e-mail so many have quoted was sent to the Society of Open-Minded Atheists’ (SOMA) e-mail list serv, meant only for SOMA members.

Someone, most likely a Christian fundamentalist, joined the list serv with the sole intention of monitoring our e-mails and using them against SOMA members.

I'll come back to what this says about fundamentalist ethics and morality in a moment, but this entire situation occurred because a "mole" on our list serv unethically sent Dr. Mirecki's e-mail to some fundamentalist, intelligent design nut job in Kansas City, who started this whole thing.


It certainly doesn't do a lot of good for the argument that religion, specifically Christianity, inspires morality when people pull stunts like this. My opinion of Christianity only continues to drop every time I witness some clearly Christian person commit some sort of offense.

If a secularist committed some offense, we would all be hounded openly by every fundamentalist preacher in the country. It's hypocritical, it's wrong and it's horribly unethical to focus on Mirecki’s statements and then call him a bigot. How many preachers will claim on Sunday that all secularists are immoral, terrible people? How many qualified, aspiring politicians will lose elections because they are secularists?

And yet, Mirecki, a man most people have likely never met, is a bigot based upon an abstract of an e-mail he sent to a private list serv?

Last week after reading King's post about Paul Mirecki, I joined the kusoma yahoogroup to get a first hand sense of what this so-called "hate group" was all about. I also talked with Andrew Stangl a bit about the controversy.

Andrew was especially disappointed in the way that Robert Hemenway, Chancellor of Kansas University reacted to the controversy. Hemenway referred to Mirecki's email as "repugnant and vile". In Andrew's view, this sort of language was way out of proportion to the email Hemenway was referring to and was "responsible for throwing fuel on the fire". Andrew suggested that "immature" would be a better way to describe - and distance himself from Mirecki's email.

Bartholemew has more analysis on how the Kansas Chancellor has reacted here.