Steve Bitterman, a teacher at Southwestern Community College, Red Oak, Iowa, was fired after he urged his pupils not to take the story of Adam and Eve literally. Bitterman was teaching a western civilisation course and often used extracts from the Old Testament as part of his lessons, but urged students to look beyond a literal interpretation of what he views as an "extremely meaningful story", believing such a reading would miss much of the poetic, metaphoric and symbolic content. After class, he also made the mistake of referring to the story as a "fairy tale" during a conversation with a student.
The class was being broadcast to a second college in Osceola, Iowa, and it was a group of students from this class that reported Bitterman for "denigrating their religion". Bitterman's college has refused to comment on his dismissal, which it described as a "personnel matter".
Speaking to Iowa newspaper the Des Moines Register, Bitterman said: "I'm just a little bit shocked myself that a college in good standing would back up students who insist that people who have been through college and have a master's degree, a couple actually, have to teach that there were such things as talking snakes or lose their job."
Clearly endorsing the good work of his former employers, he concluded: "From my point of view, what they're doing is essentially teaching their students very well to function in the eighth century."
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Monday, 24 September 2007
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