The separation between Church and State is super important in this country but that doesn’t mean religious people aren’t allowed to participate in public institutions. What it means is that public institutions can’t declare that they are of one religion. It’s the U.S., we’re a melting pot. As an atheist, even to me, the exchange between this Baltimore Community College administrator and a prospective student sounds troubling.
Brandon Jenkins was applying to the school’s radiation therapy program. After being rejected the program director Adrienne Dougherty emailed Jenkins to let him know that the twelve available spots were filled by students with higher GPAs but she also wrote this little criticism:
“I understand that religion is a major part of your life and that was evident in your recommendation letters, however, this field is not the place for religion. We have many patients who come to us for treatment from many different religions and some who believe in nothing. If you interview in the future, you may want to leave your thoughts and beliefs out of the interview process.”
The school’s attorney is claiming that when they asked Jenkins why he was pursuing this field he answered he was doing it “on behalf of God” and that was unacceptable. When asked what was the most important thing to him he said, “My God.” Jenkins claims the interview was the only time he brought up his religion because well, they asked questions that prompted such answers for him.
Not going to lie, these aren’t very good interview answers but then the administrator should have addressed that, instead of asserting that the field itself “is not the place for religion,” which literally makes no sense especially since right after she claims people of all religions come in for treatment. Did Jenkins even specify which religion he was of?
It’s strange to me that a university would see this as something inherently negative. I don’t think any mature person would be alienated or offended by the fact that someone is of any particular religion as long as they weren’t imposing it upon others or denigrating other beliefs. Universities typically want well-rounded students and so, it’s always been my understanding, that they were interested in beliefs, sexual orientations, class, race and personal history as a way of painting a picture of a student beyond their grades.
I certainly don’t think Jenkins was rejected wholly because of his religion but it does seem to have been one contributing factor among many. According to Opposing View, “The ACLJ [who is representing Jenkins in court] claims that Dougherty also told Jenkins that his 3.2 GPA was lower than other potential students and that a 10-year-old criminal charge on Jenkins’s record could make it difficult to find a job in this field.” Not having a degree might make it difficult too. What do you think?