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Duke Divinity School Professor To Resign After Facing Backlash For Criticizing Diversity Training

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A Duke Divinity School professor is resigning after facing backlash for his complaints about a training program featuring progressive teachings on race.

Paul Griffiths, a professor of Catholic theology, will resign after the 2017-18 academic year because of disciplinary measures he’s up against, reports The Washington Times.

After receiving an email sent to faculty encouraging attendance at the two-day anti-racism training in March, Griffiths responded by sending a mass email advising his colleagues not to attend.

“I exhort you not to attend this training,” Griffiths wrote in a Feb. 6 email. “Don’t lay waste your time by doing so. It’ll be, I predict with confidence, intellectually flaccid: there’ll be bromides, cliches, and amen-corner rah-rahs in plenty. When (if) it gets beyond that, its illiberal roots and totalitarian tendencies will show.”

He was swiftly condemned by administrators and colleagues on the Durham, North Carolina, campus who were in favor of the training.

Valerie Cooper, associate professor of religion and society and black church studies, said the school’s treatment of Griffiths does not go against academic freedom because the progressive view of diversity is not open to debate.

“Duke University has a clear statement in favor of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Cooper wrote on Facebook this month, as quoted in the Washington Times. “Because this statement *is* Duke University policy, being against diversity isn’t an issue of academic freedom. It is academic malpractice. If you can’t abide by Duke’s policies, you shouldn’t work for Duke.”

Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, was quoted in the Washington Times as saying that intolerance toward other points of views on college campuses is becoming more common as “politically correct administrations pull out all of the stops to silence the last few remaining non-progressives on their faculty.”

“Most of the silencing that occurs on college campuses occurs invisibly,” Wood said. “There is no public trace of it because people self-censor. Or if they come under pressure, they concede the point and shut up. A case like Griffiths’ stands out because Griffiths decided to go public.”

According to the school website, Griffiths joined the faculty at Duke Divinity School in 2008. A native of England, he moved to the U.S. in 1980 to complete his studies, becoming a citizen in 1994. Formerly an Anglican, he became a Catholic in 1996. He previously held positions at the University of Notre Dame, the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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