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College Student Barred from Reading Bible Before Class

Student Bible

A Northern Arizona University student was forced by his professor and the school's history department chair to stop reading his Bible prior to the start of class.

Mark Holden was recorded explaining to History Department Chair Derek Heng an incident that occurred between him and his instructor, Dr. Heather Martel.

Campus Reform, a watchdog group, reports it was given a recording of the February incident.



On the recording, Holden tells Heng that he always uses his free time before class to read the Bible. However, this time Martel objected to the routine because she didn't want him reading the 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 on the tape.

Heng goes on to say that although 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."

Holden attempted to clarify, asking: "So, she doesn't want me in the front because I have my Bible out?”

"No, I think she, I mean, well why do you have your Bible out anyway?" Heng responds.

Holden explains that he was reading before class, which wasn't scheduled to start for another five minutes.

Heng concluded the conversation by asking Holden to put his Bible away.

In another incident, Martel reportedly accused Holden of violating the school's policy on disruptive classroom behavior when he challenged Martel's views on cultural assimilation.

Holden told Campus Reform that he cited news reports about two Muslim immigrants who put up a sign that the Koran gives them the right to commit rape, using the incident as an example of a case in which cultural assimilation might be desirable.

According to an email sent by the professor to the student, Holden allegedly interrupted the class several times, "made a scene," and stopped only when a student 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 wrote in the email.

Holden has since withdrawn from Martel's class. He said most college professors are "pushing an ideology on students and any opposition to this is refuted and slashed." He added that although some students want to speak up, they fear it will harm their grades.

"It's a systemic problem, not just at this university, but across the United States in the restriction of free speech," Holden told Campus Reform.


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