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Fighting the Academic Persecution of Christians

Mike planned on becoming a professional soccer player growing up. When he was a senior in high school, a torn Achilles tendon thwarted those dreams.  Mike had nothing to fall back on; he graduated high school with a 1.8 GPA and was ranked 734 among a class of 740, largely as a result of flunking English all four years.  “I threw all my eggs in one basket,” says Mike.  “I was forced to go to college because I couldn’t do anything else,” he says.  While in college, Mike declared himself agnostic.  He played music professionally for four years to pay bills but his drug and alcohol use escalated.  He previously watched Pat Robertson and Jay Sekulow on TV and hurled profanities.  “I was extremely militant in my views,” says Mike. 

His grades improved as a college student and he obtained an Associate’s in Psychology at a community college before transferring to Mississippi State.  By the time he graduated, Mike declared himself an atheist.  Later he went on to earn his Master’s in Psychology. After graduation, Mike was hired by UNC Wilmington (UNCW) to teach in their criminal justice program.  In the 90s, Mike was involved in a teaching exchange in Ecuador where he focused on prison conditions.  When he witnessed firsthand the horrific atrocities, he was shocked.  “It completely freaked me out,” says Mike.  The harrowing interviews became a defining moment for him.  He realized he had been wrong about his concept of cultural relativeness.  “I made the transition to theist,” he says. 

Then in 2000, Mike visited a mentally retarded death row inmate in Texas named John Paul Penry on whose case he had been teaching.  As Mike was leaving the prison, John quoted John 3:16.  “I asked him if he had read the Bible and John told me although he didn’t understand most of it, he did understand what he needed to,” says Mike. The realization hit Mike: he was an educated teaching professor with a PhD and had never read the Bible.  So Mike bought a Bible and started to read it.  He got stuck in the Old Testament and stumbled across Chuck Colson’s How Now Shall We Live.  For the next year, he read apologetic writings.  “I was persuaded of spiritual accuracy and became more receptive to Jesus,” says Mike.  After gaining confidence in the Bible as a reliable source, Mike looked at the circumstantial evidence of the resurrection.  The questions became: “Was Jesus lying? Was He not?”  Mike realized that Jesus is Who He says He is and accepted Him as Lord and Savior in the summer of 2000.  After doing so, Mike went for a run on the beach.  “It looked different to me,” he says.  “The whole world looked different.  I was overjoyed.”  Not only did Mike abandon atheism, he became a Republican and joined a church. 


In 2000, Mike won Faculty Member of the Year award (issued by the Office of the Dean of Students) for the second time.  Yet after his conversion, UNCW subjected Mike to a campaign of academic persecution that culminated in his denial of promotion to a full professorship despite his award winning record of teaching and service.  In 2007, Mike filed a lawsuit against the university and was represented by David French (a former litigator for the American Center for Law and Justice).  In March 2014, a federal jury ruled that UNCW illegally retaliated against Mike when it denied him the promotion.  UNCW agreed to drop its appeal and promote Mike to position of full professor.  They paid him $50,000 in back pay as ordered by the court, agreed to adopt procedures protecting Mike from renewed retaliation and paid $615,000 in attorneys’ fees.  This verdict was an important victory for academic freedom and the First Amendment.
Mike spends his summers in Colorado lecturing against abortion and in favor of First Amendment rights on college campuses.

Mentioned in the Video



Guest Info


Professor Criminology, UNC – Wilmington

Contributor, www.TownHall.com where he critiques widespread leftist abuses within colleges and universities

Author, his latest: Letters to a Young Progressive (2013)

Ph.D., Sociology/Criminology, Mississippi State Univ.

Has made appearances on Hannity, The O’Reilly Factor, and Glenn Beck


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