ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – A Tarrant County College professor alleges he was forced to resign for his beliefs, while school officials say they received complaints that he used his classroom as an aggressive pulpit.
Ginger Ruiz and Sarah Lara met in their world religion class at Tarrant County College in Arlington. The two wanted to broaden their minds.
“I wanted an academic view of the different religions of the world,” says Ruiz from Arlington.
Her classmate Lara signed up for the class for similar reasons, saying, “To me, religion defines a person. That’s why I took this class to learn other people’s belief.”
But the students never knew those beliefs would divide their classroom and lead to their professor leaving his job.
“We have open forum every class, I don’t care what you are,” said Paul Derengowski, who taught at TCC for three and a half years. “I let these students know I’m approaching this from a Christian world view.”
Two weeks ago a discussion in class turned to Islam.
It got heated, he says, when two Muslim students disagreed with his teachings on the religion.
The students walked out and later filed a complaint with the college.
Derengowski says he met with administrators, but decided to resign after the meeting.
“I’m not there to proselytize to anybody but I’m going to give my perspective which is something they don’t want me to do,” said Derengowski.
He is a staunch defender of the Christian faith and runs a website called the Christian Apologetics Project.
The website lists Islam as well as Mormonism as cults.
“I set up the blog to defend the Christian faith,” Derengowski said.
He also wrote in a blog entry in 2009 criticizing homeland security.
In the blog Derengowski says police should profile Muslims.
When asked if all Muslims should be profiled he replied affirmatively, “because their actions proceed them. Why are we sitting here right now? It’s not because the Buddhist did what they did. It’s not because of the Hindus, the Janes, the Sikh’s.”
He also believes mosques should be under 24/7 surveillance.
One of his students – who is Muslim but didn’t want to be on camera – emailed to say when it was time to learn about Islam that Derengowski, “…seemed to be choosy about what he was teaching and left out a lot of important points. He taught it with his own perspective and it was very obvious that he felt some resentment towards the religion.”
She goes on to say, “I am a proud American and I have the right, just as any other student in the classroom, to learn what is deserved to be taught, not based off one’s hateful opinions. And certainly, have the utmost right to not feel uncomfortable sitting in a classroom which my tax dollars pay for.”
Derengowski’s personal webpage is on the syllabus for the class.
It’s been listed there for three and a half years; that’s why he says he’s surprised that now the college has a problem with it.
He was told by TCC that his syllabus was inappropriate that his website is offensive and that his method of teaching is not neutral.
TCC wouldn’t comment any further other than telling us they’re looking into concerns.
“For me it’s like the school failed to educate me,” Lara said.
Derengowski now wants his job back. Some of his students want him back too.
“I didn’t get to finish the course I registered for and I wanted to learn about Islam,” said Ruiz.