Eugene England as Galileo

The most recent Sunstone (Dec 2010) has a tribute to Eugene England by Charlotte Hansen.  In it she discusses “Academic Freedom and Religious Dialogue.”  I quote from her article:

In 1992, during a Sunstone Symposium session, England learned about the Strengthening Church Members Committee.  He was aghast at this information and told the audience that members of the LDS Church should object to such a committee.  Later, he learned that some apostles sat on the committee.  He immediately and personally apologized for unknowingly “criticizing the Brethren.”  However, the incident had lasting damaging effects.

Was England wrong in critizing the existence of this committee?  Absolutely not.  Was he wrong for apologizing?  I don’t know.  I can’t fully understand his situation at the time.  Galileo was forced to recant on a much bigger issue.  And most would agree that he made the right decision.  I guess I don’t understand why having apostles on the committee matters?  Either with or without apostles, England was criticizing the Brethren.  The sad part of this is that England had to apologize at all.  If the SCMC is wrong, it is wrong.  BYU professors should have the right to state their opinion in an open forum, particularly when it does not relate to doctrine.

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