Of Mice and Mormons, Part IV

Mike Adams

8/30/2007 12:02:00 AM - Mike Adams

On July 9, 2004, Professor Wetchler sent an e-mail to Mr. Ford to cancel their meeting (see Parts I , II, and III of this series for background information).

He stated that the faculty wanted to discuss Mr. Ford’s thesis proposal as a team before moving forward. In the meantime, Mr. Ford had talked to Dr. Byrd and decided to select a different thesis topic in the hopes that he could curb the anger of his professors.

On July 10, 2004, Mr. Ford met with Professor Wetchler to explain that he would choose another topic for his thesis. Wetchler encouraged Mr. Ford to consider two topics: (1) the relationship between differentiation and religiosity; and (2) the relationship between identity foreclosure and intolerance.

For the first topic, Professor Wetchler explained that he thought high religiosity corresponded with low differentiation, and vice versa. “Differentiation” is a psychological scale that measures emotional development. People with low differentiation scores tend to be anxious and more wrapped up in their emotions, less emotionally balanced, and less developed emotionally. Those with high differentiation scores tend to have more balance between thought and emotion, are less controlled by their emotions, and more developed emotionally.

Professor Wetchler had concluded that very religious people are less developed emotionally and more unbalanced than their secular counterparts.

For the second topic, Professor Wetchler explained that he thought high identity foreclosure corresponded with high levels of intolerance, and vice versa. “Identity foreclosure” is a psychological term measuring the relationship between a person’s beliefs and the views of his family on matters of religion, politics, and social values. People with high “identity foreclosure” scores tend to accept blindly the views that come from their family upbringing.

Professor Wetchler had concluded that religious people are more intolerant and that intolerant people are more religious than their counterparts.

On July 7, 2004, the LDS Church issued a press release indicating that it “favors a constitutional amendment preserving marriage as the lawful union of a man and a woman.” About a month later, a friend asked Mr. Ford to write a letter to the editor of The Times, a local paper, on the subject of “same-sex marriage.” Mr. Ford chose to exercise his First Amendment freedoms by writing a letter tracing the decline of marriage in nations that have accepted “same sex marriage.”

On August 8, 2004, Mr. Ford met with Professor Hecker and an intern for a thirty to forty-five minute meeting to discuss a very difficult incest case. During this meeting, the clients were in the waiting room awaiting their therapy session. As Professor Hecker was the professor and the approved certified instructor, both Purdue University standards and the ethics code of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists required her to work with Mr. Ford and to supervise his session with the clients. During the meeting, Professor Hecker abruptly announced to the intern and Mr. Ford that she could no longer work with Mr. Ford ethically. At this point, she was shaking with anger.

Mr. Ford was concerned with his professor’s outward display of anger. He asked if it would be possible to discuss the matter privately. Although the clients were in the waiting room at the time, she just walked out of the room saying that she did not even want to remain near Mr. Ford.

After the session was over, Mr. Ford approached Professor Hecker in an honest attempt to resolve the sudden disruption. At this point, Hecker held up a copy of his letter to the editor and asked whether he wrote it. Mr. Ford admitted that he had and noted that he was unaware of any policy that prohibited him from writing letters to the editor.

Professor Hecker responded by saying that she did not know whether Mr. Ford could remain in the master’s program. She also stated that she would have to discuss the issue with the rest of the faculty. Mr. Ford responded by asking: “Is this something about which I should seek consultation?”

On August 23, 2004, Professor Wetchler sent Mr. Ford an e-mail saying that he wanted to meet to talk “about some of the things that have been happening lately.” Wetchler also sent a copy of the e-mail to other undisclosed recipients. The same day, Professor Flannery (Head of the Department of Behavioral Sciences) met with the program faculty. At the end of this meeting, he approved a memo, which was then placed in Mr. Ford’s mailbox. This memo stated that Purdue and the program had adopted the policy positions of the American Psychological Association on both “same-sex marriage” and same sex parenting.

Mr. Ford read the memorandum and was so disturbed that he had to leave the program clinic for the rest of the day. He feared that the faculty was preparing to remove him from the program. 

But, as the reader will learn in Part V, the faculty had something far worse in mind for our embattled Mormon friend.