News Channel 3 in Madison, Wisconsin is reporting that a professor at Madison Area Technical College is under investigation for allegedly talking about God in class.
Velena Jones reports that student Dan Roberts complained when professor Hien Van Dong allegedly encouraged him to have "a personal relationship with a living God." Van Dong teaches a three-credit course, "Leadership Principles, Practices and Contemporary Ethical Implications to Develop the Leader within You."
"Our text mentioned God a lot," Roberts said. "They mentioned prayer a lot. They mentioned taking a personal responsibility but needing a higher power to succeed."
Madison College is not a private university but a community college. Roberts is a former Christian turned atheist. The three-credit course was designed to encourage ethical thinking and practices, but Roberts complained that the course promoted Christianity, including one of the texts used, "Sometimes You Win, Sometimes Your Learn" by John C. Maxwell, who is an evangelical Christian.
"Having a text that pushes that having a higher power is necessary makes anyone who does not have a higher power, thinking that maybe they cannot be ethical, and that’s simply not true and that is very dismissive and uncomfortable," Roberts said. He added that he emailed the instructor with his concerns and Van Dong allegedly replied, "I discovered it isn’t about do’s and don’ts, it is about a personal relationship with a living God."
Madison College Provost Turina Bakken told News Channel 3 that the college is investigating the claims. "We will take any and all appropriate action of the learning environment for our students but also to protect our faculty."
She added, "To this point we have one letter that’s representing the experiences of one student, and we will have to let the process play out and do the right thing from there both for the faculty and the student to ensure that going forwards we put forward the most comfortable, effective learning experiences that we can."
Bakken also said Van Dong is a respected instructor with 16 years of experience at the college.