John Myers received his B.S. degree in journalism from Auburn University. He is a member of the staff of Christian Leadership Ministries where he is the editor for The Real Issue and is responsible for a number of other publications. He and his wife have two children and live in the Dallas area.
Dr. Dilawar Edwards has been a teacher of educational media for over 20 years at California University of Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh. That is, until the fall of 1993, when he was summarily relieved of his teaching duties.
Certain members of the administration have been at odds with Edwards since 1989. It was then a student lodged an informal complaint with the academic vice president against Edwards, a tenured professor and former chairman of the department of education, claiming he was indoctrinating the class with his Christian beliefs.
The vice president issued a letter to Edwards instructing him to "cease and desist" from using course related materials "of a religious nature" and "doctrinaire material of a religious sort."
Edwards had revised and refined his class syllabus during his tenure, and was commended by a previous chairman of the education department for his work on the class. He had duly filed his syllabus at the appropriate times with his chairman in accordance with procedure for review by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
He said his syllabus was designed to address public and parental concerns, free speech, censorship, and methods of identifying and preventing various biases within educational media materials and textbooks.
While Edwards abided by the cease and desist order, he repeatedly asked administrators to provide objective standards and criteria which would help him clarify what was overtly religious about his teaching. He also requested clarification of the boundaries and limitations in such discussion.
Administrators replied that, as a professor, Edwards ought to know "what are materials of a religious nature," and he should "use good common sense," and be "less focused and more circumspect."
"They took cover under the establishment clause, saying that the state university can't allow one of it's teachers to be teaching his religion," said Raj, Edwards' brother and a former professor.
"Under court testimony, his students said he did not espouse any particular religion and at that time they had no idea of his personal religious beliefs and practices," he added.
Edwards said he received threats from his administration of "discipline or discharge." After he had exhausted all local remedies for reconciliation, he filed suit in the Western District Federal Court against the university for violation of his academic freedom. Eventually, Edwards filed for summary judgment, which is still pending.
After Edwards filed his suit, he claimed his right to due process was violated in a series of actions directed against him.
First, in the spring of 1993, while Edwards was on leave, David Campbell, the education department chairman, resurrected the 1983 syllabus for Edwards' class. Campbell's action nullified the syllabus Edwards had created and which had been filed for the NCATE to review.
Then, his chairman instructed the bookstore to send back books ordered by Edwards for his summer course without his knowledge or approval, which, he maintains, disrupted his class schedule and severely curtailed his academic freedom.
Also, two days before the fall '93 term was to begin, chairman Campbell informed Edwards he was removing him from the course he had taught for over 20 years. Instead, he was to teach educational testing and measurement, a course he had never taught before.
Finally, on October 25, the department dean and chairman called Edwards to a meeting where they handed him a packet and then told him he was immediately relieved of his duties, with pay.
At the first opportunity, he opened the packet given to him and found a letter addressed to him, dated October 22, from the president. The letter contained a list of charges made by Campbell against Edwards.
"No conclusions about the matters that follow will be made until you have an opportunity to present your side of the story," the letter stated.
In reviewing Edwards' case, the American Association of University Professors stated that "under standards supported by this association, the enforced separation of professor Edwards from his teaching duties, prior to any hearing before a committee of his peers, is a severe sanction."
Before Edwards was to appear before the university president to answer charges in November, he filed for a temporary restraining order. The court granted the requests and he was reinstated pending court hearings.
Edwards' brother Raj insisted that "we have to penetrate that shield of immunity" by the state that protects administrators from having to answer personally for their actions.
"The acceptance without review of charges by Edwards' student, the order to cease and desist, the change of the syllabus, the removal of course books, the last-minute change in teaching responsibility, and the clear denial of due process reveal an agenda of absolute intolerance for the rights of Christian faculty," explained Dr. Scott Luley, director of Christian Leadership Ministries' Free Speech Project.
"This is the very effort Christian Leadership strives to combat through the Free Speech Project. Christian professors must stand firm for their Constitutionally granted rights or they will be pushed under a relentless tide of opposition."