- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 29, 2007

Instructor: Bible story led to firing

DES MOINES, Iowa — An instructor at an Iowa community college claims he was fired after he told his students that the biblical story of Adam and Eve is a fairy tale and should not be interpreted literally.

Steve Bitterman, 60, said officials at Southwestern Community College in Red Oak sided with a handful of students who threatened legal action over his remarks in a Western civilization class.

“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 … have to teach that there were such things as talking snakes or lose their job,” Mr. Bitterman said. “As a taxpayer, I’d like to know if a tax-supported public institution of higher learning has given veto power over what can and cannot be said in its classrooms to a fundamentalist religious group.”

School President Barbara Crittenden would not comment on whether Mr. Bitterman was fired over the Bible reference, saying it was a personnel issue.

“There was no action taken that violated the First Amendment,” she said.

Religious practice spreading in Cuba

MIAMI — A top Roman Catholic prelate in Cuba said during a visit to Miami’s Cuban exile community that religious practice is slowly spreading in the communist nation despite rigid restrictions.

Archbishop Dionisio Guillermo Garcia Ibanez, named earlier this year to lead Catholics in Santiago, Cuba’s second-largest city, said the church has been able to expand its reach, though it will be years before it achieves goals of even more openness.

“The faith of our community has manifested, it has been reborn,” he said in a recent interview during a visit here. “The Catholic faith in our community has resurrected.”

Archbishop Garcia would not pin the loosened restrictions on Fidel Castro’s decision to temporarily hand over the government last year to his brother Raul. He said he has witnessed piecemeal improvements since his ordination in 1985.

Catholics once hoped simply to knock on doors and spread the Gospel, he said, a dream that’s since been realized. They prayed they could hold religious processions in the streets; he says there have been more than 90. They pushed for Catholic radio broadcasts, which are allowed once or twice a year.

Agency ex-employee cites discrimination

CONCORD, N.H. — A former employee has accused a New Hampshire child advocacy agency of harassing and discriminating against her because she shared her Christian beliefs in the office.

In her lawsuit, Penny Nixon of Concord said she was sarcastically referred to as the “good Christian” at Casey Family Services. She says she was forbidden from giving out religious Christmas cards.

Miss Nixon also claims that although the agency promoted tolerance and diversity, it would not allow her to hold voluntary lunch-hour Bible studies but permitted a homosexual group to meet during business hours.

“Penny Nixon is not saying she has any objection to working with gay men or lesbians,” Miss Nixon’s attorney, Chuck Douglas, wrote in a lawsuit filed in Merrimack County Superior Court. “She does not object to diversity training that is evenhanded. However, she does assert her right to have her practice and belief in Christianity unmolested in the workplace.”

Casey Family Services has not yet responded to the lawsuit in court.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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