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Vol. XIII • 1991

U.S.A. - U.S.S.R. 1991

Where Does Christianity Fare Better?

By Greg Garrison Religious News Service

1. The USA: A Report from the St. Petersburg Times, January 5, 1991

Professor challenges policy on beliefs

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The University of Alabama does not want Phil Bishop to talk about his Christian beliefs in the classroom, so the head of his department wrote him a memo in 1987 ordering him to stop.

He didn't. Then he sued the university and won. "I have a personal religious belief that I should share my views about Jesus with others when the appropriate circumstances arrive," said the 40-year-old member of First Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa.

The university then appealed but, despite that decision, the university decided the assistant professor of exercise physiology was too good a teacher to lose, Alabama gave him tenure in April 1990, but the appeal is still pending in court, ...

But Bishop is not suing for monetary damages and says the case is not a matter of a grudge, but a philosophical stand. College campuses are generally anti-religious, he says, challenging professors who claim to be bias-free in their classroom or free of any philosophical framework that shapes the substance and style of their teaching.

The school argues that by interjecting his beliefs in the classroom. Bishop violates the constitutional ban against the state establishment of religion.

In February, U. S. District Judge J. Foy Guin ruled in favor of Bishop, calling the university's restrictions too "vague and overbroad" because the school did not prohibit other faculty members from making non-religious statements on other personal beliefs....

Bishop, who graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy and later took a doctorate in physical education at the University of Georgia, directs the Human Performance Laboratory at Alabama.

Besides bringing a Christian perspective to his subject, including one critical of evolution. Bishop said he will occasionally comment on the efficiency of the divinely designed human body. He said he does not pray, distribute religious tracts or read a Bible during class.

In April 1987, he held a 45-minute slide presentation on the "evidence of God in human physiology" after a regular class. It was clearly labeled optional and unrelated to students' grades, he said.

SGA places Bibles and Christian Books in Soviet Libraries

Bibles and Christian books by authors including C. S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Josh McDowell and J. I. Packer are beginning to appear on the shelves of school libraries in the Soviet Union. In addition, the same books are being used by Christians there who are developing literature evangelism through mobile lending libraries.

Signaling an unprecedented change in Soviet educational strategy, Yevgeni Kazantsev, deputy minister of education in the Russian republic, asked Slavic Gospel Association to provide Soviet school libraries with Bibles and Christian books. Kazantsev is responsible for the education of students throughout the U.S.S.R.

Kazantsev's request came during a recent meeting with Dick Scheuerman, vice president of Slavic Gospel Association's educational ministries division. In response, SGA is sending a collection of ten Christian books, including the Bible and classic books on apologetics and basic Christianity, to libraries in thousands of junior and senior high schools and universities in the U.S.S.R.

Given the Soviet education's former commitment to propagating atheism and undermining Christianity, Kazantsev's request signals a radical turnaround that could affect an entire generation of people. This change is echoed by other Soviet leaders. "Our young people have lost all sense of purpose and direction," says Dr. Mikhail Matskovsky, sociologist and director of the Young Family Research Department at the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences, "The historic moral principles grounded in the Christian religion are not known to our young people or to their teachers. Sadly, despair is widespread and growing.". . ,

Many Soviets understand that their political, economic and social problems have emerged from a deeper crisis of the spirit. They now recognize that the fundamental needs of the Soviet people are moral and spiritual, and that decades of militant indoctrination in atheistic Marxism have created a society that is morally and ethically illiterate.

By allowing the Bible and Christian books to be circulated through school libraries. Soviet educators are attempting to provide the people of their country with the spiritual truths that Soviet leaders have denied them for years.

"USA or USSR: Where Does Christianity Fare Better?"
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