Dear Dr. Heather Knight,
Last year about this time, Jonathan Henderson caused a stir upon Pacific Union College with his sermon titled “Adam and Steve." I wrote to you as a parent of two potential PUC students and voiced my concerns about the moral atmosphere of the campus. This year psychology professor Aubyn Fulton attempted to invite former Seventh-day Adventist pastor Ryan Bell, turned avowed atheist, to address his students under the concept of “academic freedom." I researched this concept and learned that academic freedom is a First Amendment right at public institutions. However, the U.S. Supreme Court holds that private institutions, including religious institutions, may honor freedom of speech and therefore academic freedom at their discretion. This understanding then applies to Pacific Union College and is in accordance with administration’s decision to disinvite Ryan Bell.
I commend you and your administration on this wise decision. As a parent, should my daughters attend PUC, I would hope to entrust them to faculty that would uphold Seventh-day Adventist principles and teachings and not intentionally expose them to ideas and understandings that could potentially weaken their faith.
Furthermore, I have taken many science classes at PUC and learned that the brain is not fully mature until about the age of 25. In particular, the pre-frontal cortex which aids in logic, reasoning and decision making is not fully developed until the mid-20s. This means that most of the student population at PUC is still developing reasoning and discernment skills that would assist with assessing truth from error. In light of these scientific findings about the brain, administration exercised sound judgment to disinvite former SDA pastor turned atheist Ryan Bell.
Not only that, but scripture teaches that "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1). Why, I wonder, would a professedly Christian professor choose to expose his students to the thoughts and teachings of a fool?
Thank you Dr. Knight and administration for your most recent decision and for choosing to safeguard the moral and spiritual development of the students entrusted to your care.
Gigi Beckham holds degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science and applied them in teaching. Most recently, she returned to college to study nursing and health sciences. She lives in Angwin, Calif., with her two daughters ages 19 and 15.