Student gets F grade for mentioning God
'He told me you might as well
write about the Easter Bunny'
WorldNetDaily | June 30, 2005
Bethany Hauf of Apple Valley, Calif., examines her report 'In God We Trust' (photo: Victor Valley Daily Press)
A college in southern California is now investigating the case of a student who says she was given an F for mentioning "God" against the expressed wishes of her atheist instructor.
Bethany Hauf, a freshman at Victor Valley Community College near San Bernadino, wrote the G-word 41 times in a paper titled "In God We Trust," examining the role of religion in government.
She included "God" despite being told not to by adjunct English instructor Michael Shefchik.
"He said it would offend others in class," Hauf, 34, told the Daily Press. "I didn't realize God was taboo."
The mother of four from Apple Valley, Calif., is now demanding an apology from the school, as well as a regrading of her 10-page report.
"I don't lose my First Amendment rights when I walk into that college," she said.
"We are very serious about this situation," VVC spokesman Bill Greulich told WorldNetDaily. "You have two rights in conflict – the right to believe in what you believe in, and academic freedom. We're going to take steps that are appropriate. We don't have all the facts yet."
Greulich says Hauf began the process to challenge her grade by meeting with the department chair, but did not continue up the chain of command in her recourse. He says she could still do that, appealing to the vice president, superintendent and president of the school.
Meanwhile, Hauf has contacted the American Center for Law & Justice, which sent a letter to Patricia Spencer, president of VVC.
Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the ACLJ recounted in the letter what Shefchik wrote to Bethany when she was getting approval for her subject matter:
"I have one limiting factor – no mention of big 'G' gods, i.e., one, true god argumentation," Shefchik stated.
"He told me you might as well write about the Easter Bunny," Hauf told the Daily Press. "He wanted to censor the word God."
Shefchik has not been reached for comment, but Judy Solis, chair of the English department, says Hauf was given three options: submit the report with God included, make revisions and edit out the G-word, or rewrite the entire report.
"She continued to write her paper," Solis told the Press. "She knew what the consequences were."
Sekulow says Hauf should have had no ban on her freedom of speech or religious views in the assignment.
"Bethany's paper discusses some of the evidences supporting a hypothesis that, while the Constitution prohibits an established church, religion was essential to the founding of the Nation and to its governance thereafter," he writes.
"Her paper was not one written 'about God' per se. Nor was her paper inherently and necessarily religious. And, in keeping with the requirements of the assignment, it was assiduously supported with citations to authority and written objectively. Consequently, even if, in a country in which academic and constitutional freedoms are so highly prized, it could be constitutional to impose a topical ban on papers about big 'G' gods, it was sophomoric error to read Mrs. Hauf's research paper as falling within the prohibited zone."
Despite the failing mark on the paper, Hauf passed the spring-semester course with a final grade of C.