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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Thursday, May 30, 2024
The Echo
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James Spiegel lands teaching and research job at Hillsdale College

Former TU professor moving to new role

Former Taylor University professor James Spiegel has started a teaching and research role at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan.

Spiegel, who taught at Taylor for 27 years in the Biblical Studies, Christian Ministries and Philosophy department, was terminated in 2020 after refusing to take down a video on his YouTube channel titled ‘Little Hitler.’ 

The video sees Spiegel playing the guitar and performing the original song he wrote. Before his termination, he had performed the song multiple times in front of both students and faculty across different settings.

“I strongly believe in freedom of artistic expression, especially when one’s art communicates and reinforces a core Christian doctrine such as original sin,” Spiegel wrote in an email response to The Echo. “For this reason, my wife and I agreed that to take down the video would compromise my moral integrity.”

Spiegel began teaching philosophy classes at Hillsdale in January. 

Not unfamiliar with the school, he had given several talks at the college over the years prior to his termination.

“Hillsdale is an amazing place — even better than I anticipated,” Spiegel wrote in his email. “I feel very humbled to be part of this community.”

According to the Hillsdale Collegian, the school’s newspaper, multiple Hillsdale faculty are excited to have Spiegel on board.

Associate Professor of Philosophy Ian Church, who is now working with Spiegel, wasn’t just thrilled; he was stunned.

“He is a world class scholar,” Church told the Hillsdale Collegian. “The fact that he was applying for something like this was jaw-dropping.”

Associate Professor of Biblical Studies Richard Smith said Spiegel was not only a terrific professor of philosophy and ethics; he was able to consistently have a positive impact on the students in his classes.

Smith and Spiegel were colleagues at Taylor for two decades.

“He would force (students) to think, and he was always very encouraging,” Smith said. “He would give them kudos for good work and stuff, and I saw him do that many times just in casual conversations.”

Smith may have fond memories of Spiegel, but he is still upset about the termination. When he heard about the firing, Smith said he was shocked and morally outraged.

He believes there are some individuals associated with the university who are still in the wrong when it comes to the matter.

“There are wrongs that have not been made right, and there are sins that have not been repented of,” Smith said.

Spiegel has refused to hold a grudge against Taylor.

That aspect of his character made a strong impression on Church.

“A lot of people can talk a big game, but when it comes down to enduring hardship in that way, not everybody is going to rise to that challenge,” Church told the Hillsdale Collegian.

Smith isn’t surprised Spiegel doesn’t have any hard feelings.

“I know him personally, and I can tell you he does not carry a grudge,” Smith said. “He is not bitter. He does love Taylor. That is true.”

Spiegel wrote in an email he forgives those who terminated him. He additionally wrote he continues to pray for Taylor and is pleased with the direction the school is moving under President Lindsay.