Will the Univ. of Colo. Fire an Evangelical Christian Professor?

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," Mar. 8, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "The O'Reilly Factor" weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and listen to the "Radio Factor!"

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight: Pressure is mounting on the regents at the University of Colorado to deal with radical Professor Ward Churchill (search), as you know. We were supposed to hear something this week, but the panel has now asked for a few more days to complete its investigation.

But another professor, Phil Mitchell, may lose his job because he is an evangelical Christian. At least that's what Mitchell believes. Phil Mitchell teaches history, has been at CU for more than 20 years and won an award for teacher of the year in 1998.

Professor Mitchell joins us now from Denver.

Now I've got to tell everybody that the University of Colorado is very worried about your appearance tonight here, Professor, and they're saying, no, no, no, your contract's been extended for the next academic year and no decision has been made. But you tell us from your point of view what's going on.

PHIL MITCHELL, PH.D., UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO PROFESSOR: Well, I think probably the media frenzy over this has been helpful to my cause. But, about three weeks ago, I was informed by the director of the program I work for that the history department would no longer approve me as a professor in the program and that, after next year, I was terminated. So I immediately began to look for another job.

O'REILLY: Well, why? Did they — if you're teacher of the year in '98 and you've been there at CU for 20 years, why are they booting you?

MITCHELL: Well, I asked him that. I asked the director, who, by the way, was very supportive of me and in my corner. He said they gave a couple reasons. He said that several department chairs had said that my teaching is not up to the standards of the department and that I am too overtly Christian in the classroom.

O'REILLY: Did they give an example of what overtly Christian means?

MITCHELL: No. That didn't come through the scuttlebutt to me, no.

O'REILLY: OK. Now your — I understand your teacher evaluations from the students are A. Is that true?

MITCHELL: Every class at the University of Colorado and every professor is evaluated every year, so I have 21 years of these evaluations, and, yes, my students are very generous with me. I get A's and A-pluses in almost all my evaluations.

O'REILLY: OK. So there's no problem with the students.


O'REILLY: Now, I mean, I'm asking because I don't know. I've never taken your class. Are you overtly religious in the teaching of history?

MITCHELL: No. I am very fair — Dare I say fair and balanced? — in my treatment of religion in the classroom.

O'REILLY: Well, you can that if you want. Sure. Sure...

MITCHELL: And I think that virtually every student who has ever taken a class from me, whatever religious background and whatever political persuasion, would say that. In fact, a lot of them are saying it in e-mails to me and to various university people.

O'REILLY: OK. So what's the — what's the root of the problem now? You've got Churchill who's obviously a radical left being defended by at least 900 professors, and then you have you who — you are an evangelical Christian, correct?

MITCHELL: Correct.

O'REILLY: OK. So you feel you're in danger of losing your job. So what's going on at this university? Is this a left-wing jihad or what?

MITCHELL: Well, that's probably overstating it a little bit, but there is — at the university, I kind of divide my colleagues up into two groups. There are liberals, and there are leftists.

And the liberals are great people. They're open-minded, and they'd hire me, which is their most outstanding characteristic, as far as I'm concerned, and they are good educators.

And then there are people to the academic left who feel that certain points of view are a threat to the overall educational process, and they seek to stifle that.

O'REILLY: Now you don't have tenure at the college. After 20 years...

MITCHELL: That is correct.

O'REILLY: After 20 years, did you ever ask why you don't have tenure, why they didn't give you the protection they gave Ward Churchill?

MITCHELL: No, that was my choice. I chose to be an instructor level person at the University of Colorado because I love to teach and I love my students and I love being in the classroom, and, if you're an instructor, that's all you do, and so it's a choice.

O'REILLY: OK. So you didn't want to get on the tenure track?

MITCHELL: That is correct.

O'REILLY: Now do you believe in your heart that there are people at the university who want you out of there because you're simply an evangelical Christian and maybe a conservative guy?


O'REILLY: You do believe that in your heart?


O'REILLY: Can you back it up for the audience tonight?

MITCHELL: Yes. Well, I've had a number of incidents over the years that clued me into what was going to happen to me when I was in Boulder. Even before I came, I knew the reputation of the liberal academy. And just numerous incidents over the years.

In my very first class I was in, one of my colleagues, who's still at the university, said that if he had his way, he would put all fundamentalists in concentration camps, and so I knew that I was going to be in for a rough ride. I didn't know it would last 21 years.

O'REILLY: Yes! But, I mean, 21 years is a long — but what has happened recently for the — has — have things changed recently to put your job in danger?

MITCHELL: Probably a change of administration, but, also, there have been some complaints, a few complaints about some of the books that I use in the classroom, and I think that may have jeopardized my position at the university.

O'REILLY: Give me an example of one of the books.

MITCHELL: Well, one of the books I require to study 19th century Protestantism is "In His Steps" by Charles Sheldon (search), written in 1897, and it is the best book I know of to reveal Protestant liberal values at the turn of the century. It's a wonderful book, and I use it for a couple of days in the class, and it is a book that a student protested.


MITCHELL: But most of my students love the book.

O'REILLY: All right. Well, you do have good student evaluations. So, look, here's what we're going to do. If they boot you, let us know. We'll talk to Governor Owens.


O'REILLY: We will. I mean — and they better have a reason why they're kicking you out of there, Professor. And we appreciate you taking the...

MITCHELL: Thanks a lot, Bill. I appreciate it.


And we would like you to make a prediction about Ward Churchill in the new billoreilly.com poll. Do you believe CU will fire him? This is a prediction now, not what you want, a prediction.

Remember, up to this point, all the predictions of "Factor" viewers and listeners have come true, so keep that streak going. That's billoreilly.com.

Content and Programming Copyright 2005 Fox News Network, L.L.C. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2005 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, L.L.C.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.