A student at Northern Arizona University was told he could not read his bible before class. In an audio recording submitted to Campus Reform, Mark Holden is told by History Department Chair Derek Heng that the instructor, Dr. Heather Martel, wants him to put the bible away.
Holden tells Heng that he had arrived early to his U.S. history course and, as usual, used the spare time to read his Bible, but claims that Martel had objected to the routine because she didn’t want to see a Bible in front of her.
“So Prof. Martel says that she doesn’t want you sitting in front of her because you put, you know, a Bible out, right?” Heng can be heard explaining to Holden, adding that while he doesn’t “know what the dynamics [are] going on in the classroom,” the “real key is to make sure that, you know, the class is able to go on and that you are in the classroom.”
The professor was so offended by a bible that she couldn’t stand having one in her class. The conversation continued:
“So she doesn’t want me in the front because I have my Bible out?” Holden responded for clarification, to which Heng responded by inquiring as to why Holden had his Bible out in the first place.
“No, I think she, I mean, well why do you have your Bible out anyway?” Heng asked, with Holden clarifying that he was “just reading before class” and that the class hadn’t “even started yet.”
Nonetheless, and despite Holden’s protestations that class wasn’t going to begin for “another five minutes,” Heng concluded the conversation by again asking Holden if he would put his Bible away.
“So, will you, will you, will you, put your Bible away?” he asks, to which Holden replies that he always puts his Bible away once class begins, stating that he only reads the Bible “before class” and always makes sure to stow it away “before class starts.”
There is some history here though. Professor Martel had previously accused Holden of violating a school policy on disruptive classroom behavior. Holden challenged Martel’s viewpoint on cultural assimilation:
Holden told Campus Reform that he had cited news reports about two Muslim immigrants who erected a sign declaring that the Koran gives them the right to commit rape, saying he used it as an example of a case in which cultural assimilation might be desirable.
According to an email that Martel sent to Holden explaining the violation, Holden had allegedly interrupted the class multiple times and “made a scene,” only stopping after a classmate intervened.
“Then you raised your hand for most of the rest of class. When I acknowledged that I saw your hand but stated we would be hearing from your classmates instead as you had already had your input, you said in a loud voice: ‘You work for me. I pay your salary,’” Martel alleged in the email, though neither she nor Heng responded to Campus Reform’s requests for elaboration on the matter.
Martel then sent out a second email about the altercation, not just to Holden but to the entire class, outlining “steps to re-instate [sic] civility in the classroom” and declaring emphatically that “hate speech” would not be tolerated.
Neither Holden or Martel have offered explanations on what happened. But if this account is correct, not only are many campuses anti-free speech, but they are anti-Christian as well.