A Brief Response to Jehovah’s Witness United

by Jerry Bergman Ph.D.

            A web site operated by a Jehovah’s Witness (evidently one in good standing, but in violation of the Watchtower Society’s explicit policy against Witnesses setting up web sites) includes a defamatory and potential libelous section about me.  I have responded to their charges below.  The web site, in part, attempts to respond to my research and critiques of the Watchtower. Evidently, the author cannot respond to the substance of my critiques so, instead, resorts to attacking me personally.  The author, I am told, is a lawyer lacking a sense of humor (and is nasty  not only to me, but to others who beg to differ with certain Watchtower practices). The paragraph in its entirety is as follows:

 

Any Jehovah's Witness that has extensively explored the web has no doubt stumbled upon a Dr. Gerald Bergman's writings.  Mr. Bergman is often referred to as "Dr. Jerry Bergman" or "Jerry Bergman, Ph.D."  Mr. Bergman was brought up as a Jehovah's Witness but seemingly could not abide by its standards.  He has now made it his life's work to write rather long and shallow "scholarly" treatises concerning Jehovah's Witnesses and various topics.   While it is true that Mr. Bergman holds a doctorate in some type of discipline, possibly educational psychology (at least that is as specific as I could discern), he has had quite a few problems in his academic life.  He now teaches at some small technical school named "Northwest Technical College."  One fact that he never seems to mention about himself is his troubles with the academic world and his peers.  He previously was denied tenure from Bowling Green State University for reasons that included his ethics, teaching, quality of publications and relevance of publications to his teaching.  Interestingly enough, he sued the University claiming that he was discriminated against due to his failure to obtain tenure.  He has stated that the reason for his failure was attributable to academic discrimination concerning his ardent creationist teachings.  The court did not agree with him.

 

 

Below is reprinted each section and my response immediately follows.

Any Jehovah's Witness that has extensively explored the web has no doubt stumbled upon a Dr. Gerald Bergman's writings.  Mr. Bergman is often referred to as "Dr. Jerry Bergman" or "Jerry Bergman, Ph.D." 

 

            This statement implies that something is sinister about my using my nickname.  My legal name is “Gerald” but I was never called this by my family, friends, teachers, or colleagues (I did not even know this was my legal name until after I started school!).  I have been called Jerry most of my life.  This is not unusual. Most people named Robert that I know are called “Bob” or those named Kenneth “Ken.” 

 

Mr. Bergman was brought up as a Jehovah's Witness but seemingly could not abide by its standards. 

 

            This statement implies that I am an immoral person who could not live up to high moral standards.  Note that no claim is made of any sins on my part but, in typical lawyer talk, the author here implies, but does not say, that I lack moral standards.  The author did not make any claims of immorality on my part, no doubt, because he had no evidence of such, but rather chose to infer immorality in such a way that, if he was challenged in court, he could claim “I did not charge Dr. Bergman with immorality (I only said “seemingly could not abide by its standards”). 

            In fact, I left the Watchtower partly because of a crisis of conscience similar to that experienced by Raymond Franz (1983) and for other reasons that I have detailed elsewhere.  Furthermore, all of my family (2 brothers and 10 cousins and other relatives) have left the Witnesses.  As my mother and 2 Witness aunts are all now deceased, none of my family are now Witnesses even though many were active for decades.  The fact is, most people raised Witnesses leave, something never mentioned in the section about me.  The document that I am responding to here is the exact kind of dishonest, irresponsible behavior that motivated me to resign.

He has now made it his life's work to write rather long and shallow "scholarly" treatises concerning Jehovah's Witnesses and various topics.

 

This is typical irresponsible ad hominem name calling (note the word “scholarly” is in scare quotes).  How could my articles be both long and shallow?  Shallow articles are usually short, not long.  He never offers any substantive criticisms of my writings (which I would welcome and, in fact, I often send my articles to others seeking criticism in order to improve my work).  His only response is what can only be called pure ad hominem attack.

 

While it is true that Mr. Bergman holds a doctorate in some type of discipline, possibly educational psychology (at least that is as specific as I could discern).    

 

            My background has been reviewed on at least a dozen sites on the internet and, if the author did his homework, he would not have made the foolish statement noted above.  It is true that some information about me on the web is inaccurate, but the author could have contacted me (or have completed more research). Also, if I hold a doctorate degree why does he consistently call me “Mr. Bergman”?  Actually, I hold two doctorates and close to 9 degrees in total (I expect my 9th degree at the end of this year.)

 

He has had quite a few problems in his academic life.

 

            This is very true, and the author should know one reason why—the major reason (which he should know) is because I was an active Jehovah’s Witness for over 20 years.  Yet he no where explains why I have had “quite a few problems in his academic life.”  He implies (but never states) that these problems were due to some shortcomings on my part.  In fact, my colleagues have made it absolutely clear why they disliked me.  A few quotes from the testimony in my court case follow, and these statements clearly demonstrate the reason for my conflicts.

 

Religious Discrimination Evidence

            The fact that I was terminated primarily because of my religious beliefs, activities and involvements was well known at the university.  Dozens of newspaper and magazine articles have been published, both locally and nationally, openly explaining why.  Some even openly criticized my religious beliefs, others stressed that my termination on the basis of his religion was just and proper.  With little trouble, I obtained a dozen signed, notarized affidavits from my immediate colleagues to testify to this fact (see the court appeal excerpts in the appendix below).  I will summarize this material in the appendix, but typical comments quoted from the brief filed in my case include:

 

                        Dr. Bergman's colleagues knew full well of his concerns in this area, thus cannot claim that they voted blind as to his religion (T-514;A-289).  Trevor Phillips admitted that he had enough personal conversations with Dr. Bergman to know what his religious interests and beliefs were (T-741) and was fully aware of his religious concerns (D-24): “. . . I knew that Dr. Bergman was a Jehovah's Witness .... The fall of the year he came... I was introduced to Dr. Bergman . . . And we discussed Jehovah's Witness philosophy  . . .”  In their Kingdom Halls they studied reports of Witnesses being killed, maimed, or raped,  and prayed weekly for the brothers in the latest of the never ending saga of physical persecution against them.  Without question the Witnesses are still one of the most persecuted religions today, not only in the United States, but in Canada (banned until about 1956), and in most South American and even many European nations.   Dr. Bergman vividly remember being physically beaten because of his religious refusal to salute the flag, and being accosted by the police because of going door to door as the religion required.  They were instructed to carry a copy of the various court decisions affirming their right to carry out this activity.  The police, though, sometimes ignored these rulings, brought the Witnesses into the station, harassed them, and typically let them go an hour or two later.  Dr. Bergman was chased from the doorstep several times by persons with shotguns.  Often derided and made fun of by teachers, he was brought to the school office, and at times his parents were called because of not saluting the flag or related religious issues. 

                        An ACLU pamphlet, The Persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses concluded that “The record of violence against [the Jehovah's Witnesses] was unparalleled in America since the attacks on the Mormons” concluding “Not since the persecution of the Mormons years ago has any religious minority been so bitterly and generally physically attacked as . . . Jehovah's Witnesses.”  It then detailed some of the thousands of cases of mob violence against them (A-292).  A recent study concluded that, as a whole, Jehovah’s Witnesses have experienced more antagonism, prejudice and discrimination than any other religion in American, even more than Jews (A-291).  In not only North America was persecution rampant, but Gubber (A-282-288) concluded that, “Viewed globally, this persecution [against Witnesses] has been so persistent and of such an intensity that it would not be inaccurate to regard Witnesses as the most persecuted group of Christians of the 20th century.”  This prestigious journal article is only one of thousands of authoritative references that could be quoted that reiterate the same conclusion (For a list of about 5,000 references, see A-162, 163).

                        The court should fully be aware of this sordid history.  The Witnesses have brought to the Supreme Court far more religious freedom and general First Amendment Rights cases than any other religious group in modern times—of these in excess of two score and ten visits, they won the vast majority, partially because the abuses against them were so flagrant and obvious that it was recognized an unfavorable ruling would undermine not only their religious freedom, but the First Amendment rights of all Americans (For a list see A-162:pp 170-177).

                        How can the civil rights of any person, be it a black, woman, or religious minority, be protected when colleagues are allowed by secret ballot to deny tenure, which, in the contemporary job market several inhibits practicing one's profession, and not uncommonly the end result is long-term unemployment (often making it difficult to obtain life's necessities), without even having visited one's classroom, reading one's publications, or making even a semblance evaluation as occurred in this case? 

                        Fletcher (A-184-185) notes that discrimination against Jehovah's Witnesses was common, and they and other religious minorities suffer “demotion or dismissal from their places of employment, and young people were expelled from institutions of higher education when their religious convictions were discovered.”  Dr. Bergman’s religion was mocked even in court.  For example, the University’s attorney called Dr. Bergman “a Jehova’s” to which he responded “I am not a Jehova's.”  What if the defense attorney in open court called the plaintiff a nigger, would not the judge take umbrage?  He did nothing in this case.  Many discrimination cases were won solely on evidence of use of name calling (in EEOC # 4574 [4-7-72; π6321]). An employer’s use of the word “nigger” has been decisive in proving discrimination (A-275).  In that the religious minorities have made major contributions to case law (especially in freedom of religion, press, and speech areas) in the thousands of cases they fought, an attorney would certainly be aware of this.  And Mattimoe had an exceptionally good knowledge about Witnesses, thus can not claim ignorance.  He knew they are C.O.’s (T-230),  their meeting places are called Kingdom Halls (T-231), and their governing body is termed “the Society” (T-234).

                        Dr. Bergman also faced a three year draft battle (the U.S. first refused to recognize the Witnesses as a religion, then often refused to grant them C.O. status and even, at first, refused him a medical deferment).  Because Witnesses were not treated like other C.O.s such as the Quakers, Dr. Bergman thus faced prison (although this largely changed when the federal courts began sentencing the Witnesses to community hospital work, which solved the problem and then, a few years later, the draft ended). Only after an expensive long, drawn-out battle did he finally prevail. 

                        Career servicemen are not uncommonly antagonistic to Witnesses because of what they view as their anti-Americanism (especially non-saluting), and have constantly faced hatred, especially from the American Legion and similar groups.  It has been the major source of the long history of physical violence against Witnesses. Hatred for them has reasons, and most stems from their neutral stand on secular governments: during WWII Federal judges sentenced over 4,000 Witnesses to prison, often with terms of five years or more, far more than any other group.  Few members of other C.O. churches were imprisoned.  The difference stems from hatred for the Witnesses’ total neutral stand, hatred which has admittedly softened in the West, but is still a serious problem.

                        University attorney John Mattimoe’s most extreme prevarication, claiming that Dr. Bergman stated that he never claimed that he “was a Jehovah Witness” was taken totally out of context.  Dr. Bergman consistently claimed discrimination because of his involvement in the Jehovah's Witnesses.  No such religion as “Jehovah Witness” exists.  The correct term is, one of Jehovah's witnesses.  The “w” is not capitalized, and the first word is “Jehovah's,” not Jehova or Jehovah,  the second  is “witnesses,” not Witness.  Dr. Bergman elucidated in the brief exactly what he meant, which Mattimoe ignored.  And he cannot claim space limits prevented him from defending his position:  he used a sparse thirty-five of the fifty pages allotted. 

            See the Appendix for the extensive documentation about religion.

            He now teaches at some small technical school named "Northwest Technical College."

 

                I teach at Northwest State Community College (Northwest State), a state supported fully accredited college in Archbold, OH.  We have almost 4,000 students, a 13 million dollar annual budget, and recently invested over 10 million dollars in a new science building and other improvements on the campus.  We are also one of the fastest growing colleges in Ohio.  In short, we are not by any means small.  We offer associates degrees in nursing, business, engineering technology, criminal justice, early childhood education, paralegal, and many other areas. We also offer bachelors degrees in partnership with the University of Toledo, Franklin University, Medical College of Ohio, and other universities.

 

One fact that he never seems to mention about himself is his troubles with the academic world and his peers.

 

            If the writer did any research at all he would realize that this statement is grossly irresponsible.  I have written and spoken widely about my “troubles with the academic world.”  Scores of articles have appeared in major national magazines about my situation, including in Conservative Digest, Liberty (which had a cover story), and Christianity Today.  Furthermore, my critics have also published widely about my situation.  I have also done numerous radio and T.V. appearances about my case.  

 

He previously was denied tenure from Bowling Green State University for reasons that included his ethics, teaching, quality of publications and relevance of publications to his teaching.

    

This irresponsible type of attack is clearly defamatory.  These charges have been proven false (and the court did not even imply they were true).  I will consider one charge at a time below:

     1.)  Ethics

            This charge relates to several articles I published that listed the wrong department affiliation.  I obtained letters from the publishers absolving me of responsibility, and the judge dismissed this concern.  All other concerns were dealt with including the allegation that my vita was inaccurate.  For example, a section of the brief submitted in my case on this matter follows.  (Note: T refers to the court transcript and the number that follows is the page):

No concerns existed relative to any papers that Dr. Bergman prepared for tenure (T-309-310).  In fact, no claims, memos, etc., exist relative to any vita concerns after promotion (T-694).  The proper way to deal with this is to communicate to the faculty that all concerns have been answered, and specifically offer the evidence and rationale thereof.    Is it not unethical to let them believe, for example, that Dr. Bergman deliberately misrepresented himself on publications when publishers' letters and other evidence proved that this was not the case, and the judge ruled in harmony with this?  The judge’s awareness of this problem is reflected in his statement:

 

One of the things that is bothering me ... Dr. Elsass, is that the FPCC [the final appeal board] made a decision based on misinformation that was not Dr. Bergman's fault ... that [for] his promotion, he submitted a vita which had listed a bunch of publications where he was [mis]ranked ... the faculty members ... took umbrage with that and then when it came up for tenure, some of the matters had been straightened out but not all of them.  Then he got an unfavorable vote ... based on misinformation.  (T-707-708)

 

This is exactly our contention.  Why was Dr. Bergman not formally informed of their exact concerns, and permitted to respond to those that were still alive?  As Dr. Bergman's Chair,  Dean and Provost, according to discussions with them and their testimony, concluded that these matters had been taken care of, why were  “Some of the matters . . . straightened out but not all of them?”  Why was Dr. Bergman not given an opportunity to straighten out all of them?  The court noted that "all through the case...the last four days,we have been hearing that one of the reasons for the unfavorable vote by the tenured teachers is that Dr. Bergman misstated his status in his publications.... He did not do that...”[Dr. Ferrari then answered] Yes, I would agree...” (T-627-628).

 

The majority of the department promotion committee did not conclude that the vita was “inaccurate,” since  most voted in Dr. Bergman's favor (D-3). Many professors admitted that they still do not know the facts about these concerns;  George Siefert, instead of investigating what occurred, admitted he “shouldn't say anything because I really don't know.” (T-512) As to ethics, Siefert admitted he personally did not verify his concerns (T-507-509).  And Dr. Marso concluded that, after hearing both sides, he resolved his doubts in Dr. Bergman's favor (T-853).  Even Provost Ferrari did not view vita concerns as “a major factor,” and if he was not convinced valid ethical concerns existed, why was tenure denied (T-636)?

 

 

     2.)  Teaching

            Not a single critic has ever observed my teaching, and thus none could make a valid evaluation in this area.  On the other hand, all of those professors who have observed my teaching wrote glowing evaluations. The court brief in my case noted:

The fact that Dr. Bergman had virtually no student criticism was acknowledged, and the court evidently accepted this:  To the question “in the promotion ..... and .... tenure hearings .... was the fact that Dr. Bergman had practically no student criticism a factor [brought out]?” (T-431-432).  Dr. Phillips answered, “I think people .... defending him did bring that up.”  In answer to the court's response, “He had no student criticism?” (unusual in a university) Dr. Phillips said, “Apparently not, sir” (T-752-753).

             Chair Reed testified that he knew of no concerns about Dr. Bergman's teaching and considered his preparation satisfactory (T-270). To the question, “Do you recall many students complaining about Dr. Bergman,” he answered, “No, I do not.”  In his role as department chairman, all complaints would come to him and he testified that he was unable to recall any concerns worth bringing to his attention (T-301-302). Dr. Yonker testified that it is the chair’s responsibility to communicate deficiencies to faculty, and that he did not convey any concerns about Dr. Bergman to the chair; nor did virtually any other faculty  (T-456; A-232).

            The Provost testified Dr. Bergman’s only "deficiency" was not receiving “an affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of all the tenured members of the department . . .” (T-579).  The provost’s adverse judgment was not based on Dr. Bergman’s credentials (T-580-581,616). Both Drs. Yonker, and Siefert said that, although they did not observe Dr. Bergman in the classroom (T-450), they had no reason to be concerned about his teaching (T-450-452,514).  Rita Keefe neither observed nor discussed with Dr. Bergman his rationale for using religious reading assignments that Dr. Bergman allegedly used to which she objected (T-873).  Although she (T-872) claimed that she heard some vague “complaints” that were carried to Chairman Reed, he testified that he received no such concerns (T-272-273; A-227). 

            Malcolm Campbell testified that he had never observed Dr. Bergman's teaching, and had input from only two former students, one favorable, the other “unfavorable,” he also noted that it is not unusual for students to make negative comments about professors (T-431-432).  Trevor Phillips testified:

 

Question . . . did any of your students comment to you about Dr. Bergman in any way?

Phillips: Yes.

Question.   . . . could you relate to me what comments you've heard from the students of Dr. Bergman?

Phillips.  . . . as with many of us . . . the reviews were mixed.

Question.  Some liked him; some didn't?

Phillips.  Yes.  Apparently Dr. Bergman came over as either being very... liked or appreciated or—I don't  think the word is disliked.  . . .[as] is true any student vis-a-vis any teacher... those who voiced an opinion were on one side or the other... I didn't go out and solicit [opinions]; therefore when students... talk to a professor about another, they usually have some strong views one way or  the other. (D-38-39)

 

George Siefert and Trevor Phillips also testified they had never observed Dr. Bergman’s teaching (D-21; T-494-495); and Ron Marso testified that he had never heard a student complaint (T-845-846).  Adelia Peters alleged only two student “concerns,” both of which were minor, and neither of which she related to Dr. Bergman or even to his chair (T-829).  Thus, how could Dr. Bergman possibly have responded to them, assuming they were valid concerns actually received from students?  She also admitted that most professors receive both positive and negative student feedback, and the comments about Dr. Bergman were not unusual (T-831).  When Dr. Bergman was asked for student feedback that he had received, the court concluded (T-46) the answer was “Pure hearsay.”  Why was the testimony of the one or two professors who alleged negative student criticism, even though they admitted they did not convey it to Dr. Bergman (and the criticism was, at best, minor) not also regarded as “pure hearsay?”  Although the judge concluded “Student comments are... pure hearsay . . . .” (T-932) the  alleged “negative” student comments were admitted as evidence, as reflected in his ruling.  The hundreds of positive written student comments in Dr. Bergman’s vita were also objected to by Mattimoe because he was “not able to produce  ...  the original” (T-934).  This is not true, if the court requested these, we would be glad to supply the originals (A-220-226).  It is injustice to permit a few alleged “negative” verbal student comments, but not hundreds of highly favorable ones—even those in writing (T-934)?

            It is appropriate for the court to determine if the faculty's judgment is “collaborated by teaching evaluations” (Hooker v. Tufts University 37 FEP 515) which were, in Dr. Bergman’s case, uniformly superior for the relevant evaluation time (A-204-219).  A few alleged “mildly negative” student comments—a small number for 7 years—is obviously not a basis for concluding deficiencies exist (T-432, 831).  Proper evaluation of teaching effectiveness, according to the written guidelines of the University, requires “peer and/or supervisory evaluations based on first-hand observations and/or acquaintance with staff members’ teaching skills” (T-687).  None of Dr. Bergman’s detractors, including Jim Davidson, experienced first-hand observation or were even acquainted with his teaching style or methodology.  As no critic had first hand knowledge, none were in a position to evaluate Dr. Bergman’s teaching (A-232).  Conversely, those who had observed Dr. Bergman’s teaching were uniformly positive.  Dr. Reed noted:  

 

I’ve received only one written complaint from one of your students.  This was shared with you and  represents maybe one of a half dozen that I have received about faculty in the seven years I have been chair ...I cannot remember any major oral complaints that students have said directly to me ... Indirectly, other faculty in the department have ‘claimed’ that students have expressed complaints to them.  I have asked these faculty to have any student with a complaint concerning you to bring it directly to either me or you.  So far, no student has.

 

            Dean Horton stated (A-229) that he had,  “no record of student complaints . . . and has no other such communication in any of my correspondence” about Dr. Bergman during his 7 years at BGSU.  The Graduate School Dean stated (A-228) that Dr. Bergman had, “ . . . no record of student complaints and . . . no such communications in our general correspondence file.”  Dr. Charlesworth, who did observe Dr. Bergman's teaching, concluded that Dr. Bergman is

 

 ...an excellent teacher , based on my observing his actual classroom performance...  stimulating and creative... clear and concise ... Having shared the office next to him, I can attest to the vast amount of time and attention he gives students.  The interactions I witnessed were always warm and positive and the feedback from his students ... was only positive.  His student ratings for the last several years ....were consistently exceptionally high  (A-100).

 

Dr. Fyffe concluded, “based on personal observation,” that Dr. Bergman:

 

...is an excellent teacher.  My specialization is in  Curriculum and Instruction and my position involves constant and critical observation of teaching  candidates to determine their strengths and potentiality.  Jerry clearly ... exceeds the requirements in this area...  His student evaluations were consistently high....I observed his teaching, interviewed some of his students...(concluding)  Jerry made good use of the chalk board .... His vocal and facial expressions are quite good, varying, yet consistently energetic and emotive.  Many opportunities were given for students to seek clarification or extend ideas.  Jerry moved about the front of the room while lecturing . . . kept visual contact with all segments of the room and elicited responses to many questions.  The mood of the class was varied, sometimes responding with laughter to humorous  situations and at other times reflectively thinking about probing questions.  The 28 students present  seemed interested and generally attentive ... with most taking notes on a regular basis.  This class was  probably the best single presentation of sociograms that I have ever seen.  During the times I have studied in, and, even, when I have taught EDFI 402 ... the presentations have not been as organized and  understandable.  Jerry used numerous personal, student, and research examples to enliven the situation ... (A-98, 230-231)

 

The department chair Dr. Reed stated in his evaluation of his visit of Dr. Bergman’s class that he concluded Dr. Bergman was

 

....well organized and knowledgeable about material being covered.  He structures his classes to provide his students with many individual and  group activities.  He spends considerable time in preparation for class and uses a variety of hand-out  material...spends considerable time outside of class working individually with students in his office  ... [in conclusion] ... Jerry [has] demonstrated that he is a most effective teacher  (A-54).

 

            Dr. Peter Wood, visited Dr. Bergman’s class in conjunction with his research.  Part of this research involved asking students to comment on their satisfaction with college life.  Dr. Wood concluded that Dr. Bergman’s “students generally reported that his classes were very interesting and conducive to learning.”  Typical of comments solicited by his open-ended questionnaire were the following:

 

‘Very interesting class . . . your method of instruction should be used as a model for the entire staff at BGSU.  Keep up the good work and thanks for remembering us as individuals and not just as ordinary students’ . . . ‘He makes the class more useful and personal to me’ . . . ‘I like the assignments of making up the different kinds of surveys’ . . .  ‘I like the way... [Dr. Bergman] relates personal experiences to the class.’  'I like the open discussion in class and the examples... [Dr. Bergman] uses to get a point across.  I feel that this information is more useful than just facts and book material.’  ‘ . . . the discussion sessions . . . are interesting and help me remember the point being stressed” (A-55-56).

 

A professor who taught with Dr. Bergman, Sheldon Carsey, Director of Environmental Studies, stated that he found Dr. Bergman: “to be a hard worker and interested in the welfare of... students.  The class we are involved [in] leads me to believe that he is well received ...  and that he contributes well to their education” (A-289).

 

     3.)  Quality of publications and relevance of publications to teaching 

            As almost no department member read my publications, nor any worked with me on the various committees that I served on, they have no valid basis for making any evaluation whatsoever in this area.

            I taught psychology and tests and measurement classes and many of my publications are in the psychology and tests and measurement area.  For example, the book Understanding Educational Measurement and Evaluation (Boston, MA:  Houghton Mifflin Co., 1981. 304 pp.) is in the area in which I taught.  I will again quote from the brief as to this concern. 

            A few colleagues alleged non-relevancy and quality of Dr. Bergman’s publications, yet Chair Reed testified that the “minimum criteria for tenure” was the completion of the terminal degree and “some evidence, although it...has not been qualified ... of effective teaching, research and service to the university” (T-281).  Not even one publication is required, only “some evidence of effective teaching.”  As many, if not most, tenured faculty in the department when Dr. Bergman was denied tenure, had no publications whatsoever, this cannot be used as a reason (Holliman v. Martin 330 F. Supp 1;1971; Ferguson v. Thomas 430 F. 2d 852;1970).  Jim Davidson received tenure with no publications (T-777).  Siefert testified that when he received tenure he “didn't have any refereed articles” nor a book, nor even one in progress (T-502-503).  Rita Keefe testified that she likewise did not have a single book published then (T-873).  Dr. Yonker, who was hired the same year that Dr. Bergman was, admitted that he had never written a book, was not in the process of writing one, and when he achieved tenure had only “three, four, something like that” articles (T-455-456).  Drs. Burke, Marso, and most other tenured faculty had either no articles or very few when they were tenured, and most still have none or very few. 

            Aside from Dr. Bergman, the department’s most prolific author was Dr. Campbell who testified that he had “around ten” articles published when he was tenured (T-433-434) and only one co-authored book (actually it was a collection of readings that he edited, considerably different from publishing a book; T-435) plus his doctoral dissertation.  Yet, he claimed that as the most prolific published author, he voted in favor of Dr. Bergman (T-443-444).

            Dr. Darrel Fyffe, who has served on PPPG and reviewed the credentials of about 75 faculty (A-98), noted that Dr. Bergman had more publications than any other candidate who came through the three years that he served, had excellent student evaluations, and evidence of service comparable to other successful tenure candidates (T-725). The average number of faculty publications for a person up for tenure, he noted, was two to eight (T-726). After having read many of Dr. Bergman’s articles, both before and after they were published, his assessment was very positive. 

            The concern in court was over only one of Dr. Bergman’s over 80 books, monographs and book chapters then in press, in print, or in preparation, yet Dr. Bergman was the only faculty in the entire department who had ever produced a single authored book not based on his or her dissertation (T-289).  Dr. Fyffe noted that, during the 3 years he was on PPPG, he remembers only one person who had published a hard cover book (T-727). And as Dr. Bergman’s book did not come out until after he was denied tenure, the decision could hardly have been based on the quality of this work.  It was reviewed by at least 8 reviewers, published by one of the most prestigious publishing houses in America (Houghton Mifflin of Boston), adopted by scores of colleges, bought by hundreds of libraries, and Dr. Bergman has received numerous letters and feedback relative to its high quality (T-913-914, 289).  Only one review, published in an obscure foreign journal, was critical (unusual in publishing).  Among the favorable mentions was by Robert Ebal, one of the foremost researchers in the field who, impressed with this work, cited it as an “authority” in an article published in the prestigious Journal of Educational Measurement (T-896-897).  Dr. Wiersma testified  that Dr. Ebal is an acknowledged expert in the field of measurement, and that this journal is very reputable.

             Dr. Zeller (who also published a book with Houghton Mifflin) testified that this book was “Dummied Down” on the demands of the publisher (T-915-918).  Most criticisms relate to this concern, and thus cannot be appropriately leveled against Dr. Bergman, but to the publishing industry.  George Siefert, who said he only read a draft of a chapter before Dr. Bergman was denied tenure, and he was the only person in Dr. Bergman’s department who claimed during the court proceeding to more than have glanced at this book (T-492-493).  One cannot base an evaluation on a single person’s view that was based on examination of only “a particular” portion, of a draft of one chapter? (T-476).  This is all he looked at because he “had enough ...to worry about this particular section...” (T- 513).  This alleged evaluation was not given to Dr. Bergman in writing (or even verbally) as the Charter requires (T-505).  When asked if he read other sections before Dr. Bergman’s tenure meeting, he replied, “...I had something.  Now, again, I don’t know.”  Then he later claimed that he “definitely had, by that time, fully read the book” (which was impossible because it was not published until after Dr. Bergman was denied tenure; he later admitted he read only a manuscript (T-477). Can a person honestly put much credence in this testimony?  His own words clearly demonstrate that he lacked basic knowledge of the field, not even understanding the concept of bitiles (T-479). 

            Siefert admitted in court that he did not read any of Dr. Bergman’s published articles, was only “aware” of them, and that “other people could pursue his publication record.  That was not of interest to me...”  How could he possibly evaluate Dr. Bergman?  He did not even try to separate refereed and non-refereed articles (T-494-495, 514).  As to competency, Siefert, who was in Dr. Bergman’s area,  in answer to the question, “Do you have any reason to question Jerry Bergman’s competence in the area that he taught?” said “Not really” (T-504; 514).  Only “one thing” was of concern, namely the statistics chapter in his book.  In that Dr. Bergman's assignment at BGSU was not teaching statistics classes, and Dr. Bergman never taught a course in this area at BGSU, this criticism is totally irrelevant. 

            Rita Keefe also claimed that, although it was not in her subject area, she “reviewed” this book prior to the tenure meeting, which was again, impossible (T-865).  No one else claimed to have read the book or manuscript before the tenure vote.  Adelia Peters, admitting she did not teach courses in Dr. Bergman’s area, relied upon those who did (T-833), yet was aware that the vote of these in Dr. Bergman’s area was 6 for him and 2 against!  In summary, not one faculty could articulate valid concerns about competency based on evidence. 

            Dr. Zeller, in contrast to Dr. Bergman’s opposers, completed a thorough evaluation of this book (A-37-39).  Yet, the court relied upon the opinions of those individuals who either had no knowledge in the area, or did not read the book, and the one person who claimed he skimmed a rough draft several years before it came out.  Mattimoe did not question Dr. Zeller’s expertise (T-906).  Dr. Zeller, who’s credentials were fully equal to Dr. Wiersma, testified (T-912) that this book showed Dr. Bergman had “a strong level of understanding of the material,” adding, “Not only did the text indicate that, but my conversations with him indicated that, as well.”  Yet, the court objected to Dr. Zeller’s testimony claiming that, in a religious discrimination case, the quality of publications is not at issue (T-919)!  Yet, in the final decision it turned out to be very much an issue, for the conclusion that Dr. Bergman’s publications were “inadequate” was held valid by the court!  This was the substance of Dr. Zeller’s testimony, a highly published and  respected BGSU professor who not only reviewed the book in detail (as not one person in Dr. Bergman’s department did), but was very knowledgeable about Dr. Bergman’s work and competence because Dr. Bergman was a student in two of his classes (T-920). 

            Dr. Campbell also testified that he had never “formally reviewed any” of Dr. Bergman’s publications (T-432) noting that his article in the prestigious The Futurists journal was the only publication that he had read, but had no comment on it (T-433).  Dr. Keefe, also not in Dr. Bergman’s area, claimed she only “skimmed” some of his articles, and her only claim was that they were not related to Dr. Bergman’s discipline “in most instances” (T-864, 871).  Clearly, though, many if not most of Dr. Bergman’s articles were in his area, as is evident from cross examination (T-870-873) and as testified to by many others, including his department chair, who noted that some of his publications were not related to the area Dr. Bergman was then teaching, and some were in religious journals, but even these were not necessarily irrelevant (T-272). 

            Also, how can anyone possibly judge the relevance of an article without reading the article?  Bob Yonker testified that he did not read any of Dr. Bergman’s publications (T-448, 450), yet claimed he had concerns over how he carried out his research, admitting that he could not be more specific (how can he know this if he never worked with him on research and never read his publications?).  He admitted that, early in his employment, Dr. Bergman gave him “rough drafts” of articles (actually 2, both theoretical articles on reading, neither containing any research methodology) and one article later.  He admitted that he did not know if Dr. Bergman incorporated his feedback, nor did he compare the original with the final product, which he admitted he never asked Dr. Bergman to show him (T-450). Although he claims (T-459) he critiqued “maybe nine different documents” during his first few years, and could not recall any criticism except “methodological issues” (T-450).  He was not concerned about the quality of Dr. Bergman’s publications (T-450-452)!  Asked if he felt Dr. Bergman followed necessary methodological principles, he stated, “not in all cases.”  Does any researcher in “all cases”? (T-463).  Vague concerns about methodology by only one faculty member during Dr. Bergman’s first few years at BGSU which were never conveyed to him, are hardly reasons to terminate a faculty—especially in that most of Dr. Bergman’s colleagues have never published any research, thus used no methodology at all.  Although Yonker criticized Dr. Bergman’s textbook, he did not even know if he reviewed it prior to the tenure vote, and could not recall any specific valid deficiencies (T-466).  Of what value are vague comments based on rough drafts of a few articles out of 300?  One or two or even several of Dr. Bergman’s articles may be poor, but this does not negate the value of others; any author can expect the quality of his or her work to vary.  In all fields, even the great writers occasionally bomb. Dr. Yonker admitted he did not segregate refereed from non-refereed publications, and was not even aware that many were religious (T-451-452).

 

 

The Court’s Conclusion

            The Jehovah’s Witness United cite referenced the entire sixth circuit court of appeals decision in my tenure denial case, implying that it was accurate.  This is irresponsible, and if the author did his any research, he would know that it is grossly erroneous.  An example of this irresponsibility is the court’s erroneous conclusion as indicated by the following claim:

The district court found that one concern of the tenured faculty was [Dr. Bergman’s] ethics.  For instance, Dr. Davidson testified that [Dr. Bergman’s] misrepresentation of himself was the reason for the denial of tenure.  He stated that Dr. Bergman said he was a psychologist when he had no psychological credentials.

 

The claim that I have “no psychological credentials” is ludicrous.  Even the author of the section critiqued here stated I hold “a doctorate in some type of discipline, possibly education psychology.”  In fact, I have a masters degree in social psychology and another masters degree in the are of counseling psychology.  My graduate course work in psychology includes a total of 131 quarter hours—well over the hours needed for both a masters and a doctorate degree.  My masters in the sister area of sociology includes 191 hours (mostly at the graduate level).  Immediately after I left BGSU I was hired as an associate professor of psychology at Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor, Michigan.  I originally applied for the test and measurement position at BGSU, but a letter from Dr. Robert Reed (dated Feb. 21, 1973) stated that my “credentials have been received and evaluated favorably by faculty members in the Educational Psychology Area” (emphasis in original).  The first classes that I taught at BGSU were in the psychology area, and I have taught in that area during the entire time I was on the faculty there.  I have also taught Introduction to Psychology, Adolescence Psychology, Child Psychology, Psychology of Adjustment, Social Psychology, Development Psychology, Adolescent Psychology, Industrial Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Educational Psychology, Human Growth and Development, Psychology of Giftedness, Transactional Analysis, Introduction to Counseling, and General Psychology classes at several colleges and universities for over a decade and a half. This record can easily be checked.

            Furthermore, to be licensed by the state board in Ohio, I was required to have extensive training in the clinical area plus supervised experience working as a therapist.  In my case, I first worked under Dr. Ricardo Girona, then Dr. William Beausay at Arlington Psychological Associates, both licensed psychologists.  Before licensure, one must have 2 years supervised experience.  Until I was licensed, I was registered with the state board of psychology as a psychological assistant.  The state law states that to obtain a license the candidate must:

complete a minimum of ninety quarter hours of graduate credit ... including a minimum of thirty quarter hours of instruction in the following areas: (a) Clinical psychopathology, personality, and abnormal behavior; (b) Evaluation of mental and emotional disorders; (c) Diagnosis of mental and emotional disorders; (d) Methods of prevention, intervention, and treatment of mental and emotional disorders.  The individual must complete, in either a private or clinical counseling setting, supervised experience ... supervised by a professional clinical counselor or other qualified professional approved by the committee (Ohio Laws and Rules, 1997, p. 6).

 

My license enables me to “diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders” without supervision (Ohio Laws and Rules, 1997, p. 6).  All of this can be checked by consulting my official transcripts, my work history, and the records at the state license department.  The court did not bother to do this, but irresponsibly repeated the false claim made by Jim Davidson, who was himself terminated from the university at about the same time that I was! 

            The claim that “Dr. Wiersma indicated difficulty in documenting the actual existence of [Dr. Bergman’s] books” is also ludicrous.  If he could not find one of my books, he could have asked a librarian for help (or he could have asked me).  Should I be held responsible for his lack of library skills?  The court continues, stating that Dr. Bergman:

argues that any such allegations of misconduct can be disproved by him.  Nevertheless, the evidence reveals that the tenured faculty members were genuinely concerned about [Dr. Bergman’s] ethics and that their confusion over his actual qualifications was premised on the difficulty in verifying his vita.

 

Should not the court have checked to determine if the material in my vita was incorrect instead of assuming that it may not be correct?  Would a man be imprisoned for a crime he did not commit solely because his accusers were “genuinely concerned” that he committed the crime?  What kind of a justice system convicts persons without evidence only because they were “genuinely concerned” that they may be guilty?

 

 Interestingly enough, he sued the University claiming that he was discriminated against due to his failure to obtain tenure.

 

            What kind of remark is this?  The court here only repeated the clearly refuted charges cited by the “hearing board.”  Actually, this is libelous defamation, but one can repeat it because the court cited it. 

 

He has stated that the reason for his failure was attributable to academic discrimination concerning his ardent creationist teachings.  The court did not agree with him.

 

            As a lawyer, the author of this website should know the problems of our court system.  The courts have never (except the Scopes trial) agreed with a creationist, so for this reason alone the courts ruling in my case should not be surprising (Bergman, 1984; Witham, 2002).  Furthermore, the court was in this case openly hostile to me. When I worked for the court in Michigan, I became aware first hand of a large number of cases of guilty persons allowed to walk and clearly innocent persons that were convicted.  A recent study by Northwestern University law professor Larry Marshall determined that fully 1 out of 7 people on death row since 1973 alone (a total of 75 people) were found innocent by DNA testing and other evidence (see report in the Toledo Blade, Nov. 22, 1998).  As of 2003, the number of inmates on death row alone that have subsequently been found innocent is now almost 100! (U.S. News and World Report, 13(1):13 January 13, 2003).  How many more on death row are, in fact, innocent?  In addition, thousands of others not on death row have also been found innocent.  Is the true number of persons falsely convicted 1 out of 6 or 1 out of 5 or even more? 

            The widespread criticism of the American court system exists for very good reasons.  If a doctor accidentally killed 1 out of 7 patients, a national outcry would ensue. In Florida alone 25 death row inmates have been freed in the past 30 years (“Fla. inmate enjoys his new found freedom” The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette Jan. 26. 2003. p. 3A). In Illinois, since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977, 12 men were executed and, so far, 17 men have been exonerated (4 pardoned), motivating conservative Republican Governor Rayn to conclude that the court system “has proved itself to be wildly inaccurate, unjust, unable to separate the innocent from the guilty and, at times, racist” (quoted in The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette Jan, 11, 2003 pp. 1A, 3A, emphasis mine).  Very true, Governor Rayn.

            When I worked for the court as a researcher, what I saw bothered me greatly (both then and now).  In summary, the slanderous behavior of the writer of Jehovah’s Witness United is appalling and is exactly why lawyers are held in such contempt in this society (and this behavior is also one major reason why I left the Watchtower).

 

 

References

 

Bergman, Jerry. 1984  The Criterion. Onesimus Press, Richfield, MN.

 

Franz, Raymond.1983. Crisis of Conscience. Commentary Press. Atlanta, GA.

 

 

Appendix I: Excerpts from Dr. Bergman’s Court Brief about Religion

            The court testimony in my case relative to these concerns was clear and forceful.  The following is several brief excerpts from the brief submitted in the case.

 

            Dr. Charlesworth, shortly before Provost Ferrari denied Dr. Bergman's tenure, noted the religious antagonism against Dr. Bergman by the tenured dept. members, and wrote that she concluded

 

From my conversation with the tenured faculty regarding the... evidence they had to support their concerns,... was pretty flimsy . . . there is discrimination because of religious... beliefs (and interests)....numerous times when I was  in the mailroom ... certain tenured faculty read ... addresses on Jerry's mail and giggle and make derogatory comments, especially if the mail was from a religious press or organization... (A-28-31).

 

Such slurs have been held “sufficient to establish direct evidence of discrimination” (Wilson v. City of Aliceville, 779 F.2d 631 1986).  The name-calling was not just limited to personal contacts.  Numerous letters printed both in local and national papers and magazines criticized not only Dr. Bergman’s religious beliefs, but also his conservative moral standards. The court testimony in the Bergman case regarding his religion was clear and forceful. Dr. Gusweiler (T-330) stated that Dr. Campbell believed that Bergman “belonged to a fanatic religious group . . . taught religion in the classroom and the university didn’t need people like [that] and we had to do what we had to do to get rid of them.” Her motivations for testifying, which were an important factor in assessing the testimony’s value, were as follows:       

 

I didn’t say anything for months... about this information because Malcolm was my friend and I was really torn between friendship and [whether] ...people on the Tenure Committee had a right to do this kind of thing to another person, and it wasn’t that I had any loyalties toward Jerry .... [Actually, there were open, known conflicts between them]... I felt can a person really be denied tenure based on what they believed in . . . Malcolm is my friend     and ... I struggled for months ... do I say anything, and ... I finally went to Jerry and ... I told him what I knew (T-336).

           

            The reasons first given as to why tenure was denied included “looks,” then “As the months went on, more and more talk in the Bldg. was concerning Jerry [the word in the transcript is John, it is obviously Jerry] and eventually Jim told me . . . he belonged to a crazy, religious group and . . . was denied tenure on those reasons” (T-329).

            Dr. Peters even stated that she felt Dr. Bergman would fit better in a Christian college!  Although she later claimed this was “advice,” Dr. Bergman considered it derogatory, similar to telling a black he “belonged” in a black college.  She later elucidated this advice (T-832), likely in an effort to blunt her testimony, claiming that she went to a “small Christian college.”

            Dr. Bergman’s colleagues knew full well of his concerns in this area, and thus cannot claim that they voted blind as to his religion (T-514;A-289).  Trevor Phillips admitted that he had enough personal conversations with Dr. Bergman to know what his religious interests and beliefs were (T-741), and was fully aware of his religious concerns (D-24): “The fall of the year he came ... I was introduced to Dr. Bergman ... And we discussed his religious philosophy ...” Professor Gusweiler described the religious antagonism of Malcolm Campbell toward Dr. Bergman:

 

A.  . . . I asked Dr. Campbell if there was a religious base at all to Jerry’s being denied tenure.... he stated too that he thought Jerry had belonged to a group of religious fanatics; that Jerry himself was a religious fanatic, and he thought that that was part of the reason he was denied tenure, and that was one of the things he had against him . . . Malcolm Campbell had said that he . . . was in an unusual religious group...

Q.  Did he say that his religion came up at the tenure vote meeting?

A.  I asked him if that was a reason Jerry was denied tenure, and he said, yes, that was one of the reasons ...  (D-29)

 

James Davidson expressed the same religious antagonism, actually befriending Dr. Bergman for the purpose of obtaining damaging information to pass on to the tenured faculty:

 

A.  . . . He felt Jerry belonged to a crazy religious group and that he did teach religion in the classroom. . .

Q.  What purpose did he explain or tell you of his friendship with Dr. Bergman?

A.  He felt if he got Jerry on his side, he'd get information to use against Jerry on his tenure hearing (D-27, 32).

 

Dr. Robert Joint was even more overtly motivated against Dr. Bergman’s religion:

 

Q.  Do you know or did you ever overhear any of your colleagues... commenting  on Jerry Bergman’s religion?

A.  Yes.  One of our own colleagues, Robert Joint, felt Jerry should be thrown out of the university because of his religion.  He . . . was very adamant (D-31).

 

Dr. Charlesworth, under oath, concluded,

 

As to why Dr. Bergman did not obtain tenure, I believe that the most prevalent criticism by the tenured department members relates to the subject matter of his publications, especially the religious content.  These criticisms are totally out of place and invalid as they amount to religious discrimination and smack of censorship. . . . his tenured colleagues in EDFI were also suspicious that he was bringing his religious beliefs into the classroom, a suspicion which, as far as I know, has no validity whatever.  They obviously strenuously objected to his religious orientation. 

 

. . . the department constantly made criticisms relative to Dr. Bergman’s religion ... I have heard tenured faculty in EDFI make a number of derogatory comments relative to Dr. Bergman’s religious interests and involvements.  They laughed at the religious publications ...and that he published in such publications...probably a  major reason that Dr. Bergman was  terminated was a lack of respect for his strongly held religious beliefs, and the tenured faculty’s objections to his publications on religious topics, their intolerance for diversity of opinion, and their strongly held objections to his religious involvement (A-100-101).

 

Dr. Fyffe concluded:

 

. . . that the major, if not the sole, reason for Dr. Jerry Bergman’s denial of tenure was his strongly held creationist and religious beliefs evidenced by his publications in these areas.  At no time did I ever find that these views were misused in his teaching responsibilities  (A-99).

 

Dr. Rigby stated

 

My interest in Dr. Bergman’s case is both as a colleague and one very concerned about civil rights.  I am fully convinced that there is, at the very least, a strong prima fascie case of religious discrimination.  Aside from religion, I am aware of no other valid reason for tenure denial.  It is thus clear from my examination of the facts that the major reason if not the only reason for Dr. Bergman’s termination was concern relative to his religious beliefs, values, publications, interests and views (A-109-110).

 

Dr. Remmington claimed that she was aware

 

..of a number of statements made by tenured persons in [my]...department which clearly reveal their religious bias... It thus seems abundantly clear that the major if not the only objection to  Dr. Bergman’s tenure candidacy was his religious ideology.  I am aware of the politics of universities, and this is not at all surprising (A-105-106).

 

Dr. Perry, Chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies, noted that (A-107) in Dr. Bergman’s case “religion was a major factor, if not the only factor, in ... tenure denial ...”  Dr. DePue, a full professor, noted that he was

 

. . .shocked to learn that Dr. Jerry Bergman had been dismissed ...because of his religious beliefs, namely his espousal of creationism.  It is clear to me from reviewing information and talking to individuals about the case that Dr. Bergman, in violation of the University Charter, articles 1, and .4C, was dismissed solely because of his religious beliefs.  The charter clearly specifies that tenure is to be “granted or denied” solely on the basis of . . . teaching effectiveness, scholarly or creative work, service  to the University ...Dr. Bergman unquestionably meets all of these criteria.  Few full professors have achieved the publication, teaching and service record of Dr. Bergman.  Further, he not only has completed “the terminal degree or its professional equivalent” but is currently completing his second Ph.D.  The University Charter clearly guarantees academic freedom, so termination on the grounds of espousing creationism in one’s publications is surely a violation of this article.  Further, to dismiss an employee because of his or her religious beliefs is illegal, and grossly contrary to human rights and the constitution ... (A-113-114)

 

And Dr. Don Carriker, a member of the College of Education when Dr. Bergman was at Bowling Green, noted:

 

Dr. Bergman is a dedicated, scholarly individual who is a highly competent teacher and well respected by both students and many of his colleagues.  Certain of his colleagues, though, did not share my high opinion of him, and reportedly have accused him of proselytizing.  That accusation is false.  Tenured colleagues were frequently said to have criticized his religious beliefs and publications.  It is my conclusion that he was denied tenure primarily (if not solely) because of his conservative religious beliefs . . . (A-122-123)

 

Dr. Buron stated that he was:

 

 . . . directly involved in [Dr. Bergman’s] . . .  case against BGSU, and have discussed his case extensively with...others who are involved. ... It is clear to  me ...that the only reason for Dr. Bergman being denied tenure in Bowling Green State University is his religious  beliefs....no one has questioned Dr. Bergman's outstanding scholarship; both his chairperson and Dean had high evaluations of his work.  There are many other cases of discrimination at Bowling Green State University.  Denial of equal opportunity, based on minority status, is widespread, and thus this case does not surprise me, although it is extremely upsetting. I have contacted and talked extensively with a number of people about Dr. Bergman’s case, and thus my conclusions are based on firsthand information and documents.  I am aware of a number of statements, made by tenured faculty members of his department, which clearly reveal their religious bias toward Dr. Bergman.  It thus seems abundantly clear that the major if not the only objection to Dr. Bergman's tenure candidacy was his religious and personal ideology.  Thus,... I strongly encourage whatever action is necessary to rectify this inequitable situation (A-103-104).

 

Dr. Rigby also noted that:

 

I am most concerned that this case seems to suggest the relevancy of a religious-orthodoxy test for tenure at this University.  Insofar as Dr. Bergman’s views on religious matters, be they correct or incorrect, conventional or non-conventional, majority or minority views, were taken account of by those casting tenure votes, there exists a clear case of irrelevant factors entering into that decision.  I think the record speaks quite clearly to this point—such views were considered in the decision process.  That constitutes a ...violation of Dr. Bergman’s rights. Apparently the Fastback, “Teaching About the Creation/Evolution Controversy,” which Dr. Bergman authored for  Phi Delta Kappa, entered into the decision; at least, his expression of “creationist” views seems to have been an  issue ... I have read this presentation . . . while I , too, find myself supporting the “conventional wisdom” about evolution, this little booklet is a superbly done consideration of the issues involved.  I can find no fault with Dr. Bergman’s analysis and presentation; it is excellently written (as are all his publications I have been privileged to read), soundly reasoned, and eminently fair in its approach.  No one could legitimately cite this as support for... adverse judgment on Dr. Bergman’s scholarship ... the University is a forum for exploration and exchange of ideas.  Even the most unacceptable ought to have a fair hearing in a University, and the advocates of all views ought to ...receive the opportunity to explore, expound, and advocate their ideas.  An a priori validity test on ideas is the death of new ideas.  While those of us who believe we know what ideas are valid are privileged to so argue, so, too, the one who advances unconventional views ought to be privileged to advance them.  The corrective for incorrect ideas is exposure, not prohibition of exposure, of the ideas among the community of scholars.  Any other approach stifles new ideas and binds us to that which is, for the moment, conventional wisdom (A-201-202).

 

And, last, Dr. Girona, who was both in Dr. Bergman’s department and his area of educational psychology, stated:

 

Specifically, it was related to me by a number of his colleagues, most notably, Dr. Richard Burke, but also Dr. Bennett, Dr. Pritscher, Dr. Stang, Dr. Rabin, Dr. Campbell and others, that Bergman “is a religious fanatic,” “a fundamentalist,” “a born-again type,” “a member of a weird religion,” etc. and as such does not belong here.  They also repeatedly alleged that Dr. Bergman taught religion in his classroom.  They had no firsthand information... [but]  stated only that they “heard” that this was occurring.  They were also very concerned about several of Dr. Bergman’s handouts in which he had quoted Biblical scriptures [and]... articles which dealt, either directly or indirectly, with religious topics.  Probably their major concern was his active and open involvement in creationism.  He included on a reading list a book on the Scopes Trial to which they objected and on a list of topics of papers that students could do reports on, he included topics such as “religion in the schools,” etc. It is my opinion that a number of my colleagues are very antagonistic to a conservative Christian orientation and their main objection to Dr. Bergman was because of his outspoken conservative religious beliefs, interests and activities.  They were especially concerned about his involvement in creationism which they felt was an embarrassment to the university.  They believe that no one knowledgeable today can reject evolution, although they admitted that, in their many conversations with Dr. Bergman on this topic, he seems to know a lot about this issue. Nonetheless, they feel strongly that he must be wrong since... scientific opinion supports evolution (A-32-33).

 

The extensive investigation by the University Professors for Academic Order, concluded:

 

A sheaf of affidavits and descriptive testamentary documents obtained by our investigator confirm in detail to the testimony evinced by all those interviewed; they are not contradicted significantly by the responses of Dr.  Bergman’s detractors.  The overwhelming majority of twenty-two of Dr. Bergman’s colleagues interviewed on this matter, state unequivocally that Dr. Bergman experienced the two forms of injustice indicated above . . . Those who voted against Dr. Bergman and were interviewed for the research were extremely guarded, and none would defend the procedure or the attitude evidenced toward Dr. Bergman’s religion during the process of the decision on  his tenure . . . The testimony of the three primary detractors of Dr. Bergman... expresses clear obvious religious prejudice against Dr. Bergman as the primary motivation for their vote against  him.  Their conversations with our investigator confirm the same . . . The Committee Chair considered all of the materials relating to this case...with the finding that an on-site investigation has revealed evidence beyond a reasonable doubt for religious  discrimination, as well as a lack of due process in tenure proceedings, and that Dr. Bergman should be immediately reinstated with tenure.... (A-25-27)

           

            The judge repeatedly asked whether or not Dr. Bergman’s personal religious beliefs were discussed at formal tenure meetings, and most of his colleagues answered in the negative (T-437,443 457,549, 820,859).  It is extremely rare in sex or race discrimination cases for a faculty to admit in front of about two dozen others that a person’s race was a reason for their opposition.  These factors, as the Court admitted (T-740), are almost always hidden, rarely brought out in the open (“people don’t admit” religious discrimination)—yet in this case they were brought out in the open far more so than any single case of the hundreds that we reviewed (see Yellin v. U.S. (1963) 374 U.S. 109, 83 S.Ct. 1828).  Yet, Dr. Phillips admitted that “religious issues” were in fact discussed at Dr. Bergman’s tenure meeting (T-749-750), as did Dr. Gusweiler (T-335).   And Dr. Ward (A-24), in his affidavit supporting the university, admitted that religion was “mentioned” at a tenure meeting and, was part of the decision to deny tenure although, in defense of the university, he claimed it played a minor role, if any at all.  Why should it be considered at all?  In the case of a Africian-American, if it was acknowledged that his race was part of the reason, or even discussed at a tenure meeting, it was held as inappropriate (Skehan v. Bd. of Trustees Bloomsberg State College 95 S.Ct. 1986 ).  Religion was far more than  “part” of their concerns, but was a major and constant issue, as the few of many scores of available quotes in this brief demonstrate. 

            Hundreds of quotes in addition to the above could be cited, both from the court records, affidavits, newspaper articles, etc., clearly verifying the academic freedom violations Dr. Bergman and other creationists have experienced. Even several congressman and an appellant court judge concluded discrimination existed in Dr. Bergman’s case (A-278-280). This issue should have at least been addressed by the court, yet Judge Walinski chose to ignore all the above evidence.  He recognizes the enormity of religious discrimination in modern society, noting that this problem “is going to be with us the next 10,000 years” and “A trial won't solve it,” (T-740) yet did not discern the academic freedom issue, stating, “Unless there is something specific from Dr. Phillips about Dr. Bergman’s teaching [the comments on his teaching religion have] . . . no probative value at this point....” This concern was clearly a key element in this trial.  Dr. Bergman’s religious beliefs, values, and publications were constantly inappropriately criticized, and he was repeatedly accused of “injecting” his beliefs and values into the classroom.  Yet all of this evidence was ignored by the court. The majority opinion Agurilliad et al. vs. Edwards et al., 765 F. 2D 1251; 1985 ) ruled, “The vigilant protection of the First Amendment is nowhere more vital than in ... public education” (Epperson v. State of Arkansas 393 U.S. at 104, 89 S. CT. at 270; Wieman v. Updegraff 344 U.S. at 194, 195, 73 S.Ct. 215; Pickering v. Board of Ed. 391 U.S. at 574, 88 S.Ct. 1731).

 

The Claim that Dr. Bergman was Teaching Religion

            To blunt the clear evidence about their personal objection to what they perceived as Dr. Bergman’s religion, his peers claimed that he might have been “teaching religion.”  Dr. Gusweiler (T-330) stated that “Jim Davidson . . . showed me a pamphlet from Phi Delta Kappa that Dr. Bergman had written on creationism...He threw it on my desk and said this is what Jerry was teaching ... He was very adamant it [the pamphlet]  was based on religious views and Jerry was teaching religion in the classroom”  (T-334).   Professor Gusweiler added that Malcolm Campbell “ thought Jerry had taught religion in the classroom.  He was adamant ... Jerry taught religion ...”  (D-29).

            Dr. Phillips also objected to aspects of Dr. Bergman’s curriculum that Drs. Burke and Bennett perceived as religious, yet admitted that he had no firsthand knowledge as to what Dr. Bergman was teaching, but only hearsay (D-20-22):

 

Q.  What comments did Richard Burke make to you that would have made you uneasy had they been valid?

A.  Well, they had to do often with the relationship between what Dr. Bergman was contracted to teach and . . . materials that he may have used to assist him in the teaching of such courses.  And the only other thing related to supposed material of a religious nature which some of my colleagues found it very difficult to match with, say, test and measurements or ed. psychology., whatever it was that Dr. Bergman was teaching... I, of my own knowledge, did not know what that was going on; but you ask me if I was perturbed in any way.  To the degree that this sort of talk persisted over the years, then I was concerned.

Q.  Okay.  What you just described and what you attributed to Richard Burke, are you also attributing those comments to other colleagues...?

A.  Yes . . .

 

Dr. Phillips even admitted that he did not feel some persons had full academic freedom:  “Academic freedom ... covers tenured faculty far more than it does others...” (D-23).

            Although Provost Ferrari at first denied knowledge of Dr. Bergman’s discrimination concerns (and openly lied in his affidavit, R-39-41,43-44), he admitted in court that he was fully aware of accusations and concerns relative to Dr. Bergman allegedly “carrying on religious activities in the classroom” (T-582) and in his deposition noted that some faculty members were concerned about Dr. Bergman’s religious writing and alleged “proselytizing” (D-46,48).   Dr. Ferrari then later, in contradiction to his previous statement, testified that he did not have any discussion regarding Dr. Bergman’s religious beliefs and did not know what his religion was “ever” (T-630). Yet still later in his testimony he admitted he was aware of Dr. Bergman’s religious concerns, but he recognized this is “essentially as an academic freedom issue, that . . . colleagues were concerned that he might be introducing materials into the classroom [and]... might be meeting with students on religious issues [thus I saw it] totally, as an academic freedom matter, not as discrimination against—because of . . . religion” (T-633-634).               

            It is obviously difficult to separate academic freedom and religious discrimination concerns, but Dr. Bergman has consistently presented it, and others saw it, as a concern over both issues (T-738). When one hears of concerns of religious proselytizing, “the natural question that comes to most people’s minds is what religion would the person be” (T-651).  Although Ferrari denied that he knew of Dr. Bergman’s religious concerns when his promotion was before him, he admitted he found out “after proceedings began in FPCC” (the hearing board), and thus must have known before he ruled on the FPCC’s erroneous conclusions (T-635).  Is this not perjury?

            The academic freedom issue was clearly a longstanding concern, especially the allegations that Dr. Bergman’s handouts contained “religious material.”  Trevor Phillips claimed that he and other colleagues were concerned about his “injecting religious material in” his teaching (T-745) and that his curriculum was “in sync . . . with his religious beliefs” (T-741).  Yet he admitted that he only assumed that this was taking place, and did not:

 

look into these concerns [even noting that if hand-outs that discussed religion were being]. . .handed out, yes, I would be [concerned] . . . Because I’ve never regarded a state institution as... a place where one blatantly discussed . . . the role or the place of a religious idea, but if I understand [meaning he did not know, but understood that they were] . . . the nature of these documents ... it was more than this (T-745-746).

           

            Faculty concerns that Dr. Bergman “might have” (T-739) injected “religious content” in his curriculum (T-737; T-859-861),  occurred “almost entirely during Dr. Bergman’s term of employment with the university [with the possible exception of the] very first few months” (T-738).  The faculty also admitted that it is difficult to separate concern relative to “injection of religious criteria” into a classroom from one’s own “personal religious beliefs” (T-738), admitting that concerns about what Dr. Bergman might be talking about in his classroom were obviously an offshoot of his personal beliefs.  In Moore v. Gaston Board of Ed. (357 F. Supp 1037; 1973), the court ruled that an agnostic teacher could not be discharged for teaching “Darwinian theory . . . agnosticism, and questioning the . . . Bible . . .[or that we did not have evidence for] a soul or . . .  life after death, or . . . heaven or hell [and that] these constitutional  protections are unaffected by the presence or absence of tenure” (pp. 1038, 1039).

             Dr. Fyffe likewise testified that he heard of “concerns” about Dr. Bergman teaching religion (T-732), testimony that, unfortunately, was cut off by the court.  The allegations that Dr. Bergman was “using religion content in the classroom,” Drs. Fyffe, Carriker and Girona all concluded were false (A-32, 99, 122; T-733).  A major concern was use of a book on the Scopes trial as optional reading in an educational psychology class.  Dr. Reed concluded that he was satisfied that this book had a bonafide function in the class (T-303-304).

            A major concern was a handout that Dr. Bergman used for an educational psychology class which, among the 24 topics included, were issues related to religion and the schools.  Bennett testified that he was “aware that there were some topics in” Dr. Bergman’s class that “were of a religious nature” admitting that he had heard from colleagues “talk about some religious issues that were going on in his classroom” (T-527).  Although simply suggestions and optional, Dr. Bennett had “concerns about some of those issues [topics on which students could do papers] that relate to their religious content” stressing, “Yes, I have some concerns to those” (T-530).  His specific objections were to students doing a paper in an education class on the creation/evolution controversy, the Scopes trial, religion in the schools, the flag salute controversy, the religious holidays concern, etc. 

            In court, Dr. Bennett tried to claim that his concerns were expressed after the tenure vote, which was impossible because they were discussed in many memos and numerous other documents dated well before this, and soon after the vote Dr. Bergman was forced out of BGSU, thus feedback at this point would be of no use (T-535).  Also, due to successful faculty censorship, this assignment was dropped a full two years earlier (T-531-533).  Dr. Bennett’s obvious attempt to cover up what was clear testimony in his deposition (T-531) is invalid, for in answer to the question, “What did you do as a result of hearing those concerns from your colleagues [about religion]” he admitted that they were “part of a review of Jerry’s work in the area level and at one time Jerry was in the EDFI area ...I was in... we had to make an annual review or recommendation on continuing his contract, and then I was [later] part of the larger tenure review” (T-532). 

            In response to the question, “And it was in these two capacities did you act on the information or concerns that were provided to you by your colleagues regarding Dr. Bergman’s use of religious materials in his curriculum ...?”  Bennett answered, “I made my own decision in that regard.  I had enough information that came to me directly ...” (T-533).  He then admitted that at the time of tenure review he did have concerns about the alleged religious content of Dr. Bergman’s teaching, even admitting that religion was part of his deliberations stating, “I was aware of what was going on in his classroom through those documents and perhaps other avenues.... and it was part of my own personal decision, yes” (T-535).  This admission clearly demonstrates that his vote was more than tainted by academic freedom and illegal factors.  He also admitted  that “other colleagues might have made the same conclusions that I did” (T-537) and that “there were other people in the area that had concerns about the religious content” of Dr. Bergman’s classes (T-538).  Noting that “things of a religious nature” would be “inappropriate in an educational psychology class” (T-540), Bennett concluded, “I think some of the material  [allegedly used] was inappropriate for educational psychology. . . Because of its religious nature” (T-546).

            Tenured department member Richard L. Burke was a major source of the religious antagonism against Dr. Bergman.  In answer to the question, “Isn’t it true that you told him that you didn't like people pushing Christianity?,” he said “Well, I suppose I could have.  I don't know.”  Burke, as well as several other department members, objected to some of Dr. Bergman’s curriculum materials because they perceived them to be religious (D-8-10):

 

Q.   ...one of the objections you had to the handouts prepared by Dr. Bergman was that they had some materials which you interpreted to be religiously oriented, is that right? . . .

A.  In some way or other, yeah.

Q.  During your ten years at the University have you had occasion to object to handouts prepared by other of your colleagues? . . .

A.  I can’t recall I have.

 

Thomas Bennett showed the same religious antagonism (D-12-14):

 

Q.... these peers perceived Dr. Bergman’s curriculum to contain religiously oriented materials?

A.  I’m not sure that the comments were directed to religiously oriented materials.

Q.  Then to what were they directed?

A.  I believe that some of the comments were ... topics of a sexual nature.

Q.  That was all?

A.  I think there might also have been some . . . about the religious things.

 

Bennett acknowledged often that Department members noticed and commented about religious mail Dr. Bergman received (D-16):

 

Q.  Was there any talk among your colleagues regarding the fact that Dr. Bergman received mail which by observing it would lead one to believe that it had a religious orientation?. . .

A. . . .some of it was obviously of a religious nature. . .

Q.  What objections were there to his receipt of religiously oriented mail?

A. ... just that, well, here’s Jerry receiving this mail

 

Dr. Campbell acknowledged that Dr. Bergman’s creation beliefs were discussed by the tenured faculty (D-18-19):

 

Q. . . . have you heard any mention made of his religious affiliation or allusion to his religious affiliation by your colleagues or any mention of. . . his inclusion of religious materials in his curriculum by your colleagues. . .

A.  There was mention made in conjunction with an article published in the Sunday Toledo Blade . . . in which there was reference to Jerry’s involvement in . . . controversy regarding creationism and its inclusion in the curriculum... The discussion centered on Jerry’s work with and investigation into creationism.

 


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