A University of Richmond professor has lost the chairmanship of the religion department there because he said in a speech to a group of atheists that Jesus never claimed to be the son of God.

The speech by Dr. Robert S. Alley has produced a flood of angry letters to Richmond's newspapers, outraged sermons by local clerics and threats of a financial boycott by some alumni of the Baptist-founded university.

The president of the 4,300-student university has made a formal apology. But demands that Alley be fired have been answered with a unanimous statement of support for the tenured professor by the school's faculty.

"I see Jesus as really a Jew," Alley was quoted by the Richmond News Leader as telling a small atheist gathering in Richmond's First Unitarian Church."I don't imagine for a minute that he would have had the audacity to claim the deity for himself. I think the [Bible] passages where he talks about the Son of God are later additions - what the church said about him."

Two days after an acoount of Alley's remarks was prominently displayed in the Dec. 7 editions of the News-Leader, some 60 Richmond-area Southern Baptist ministers gathered at a specially arranged meeting. The university president, E. Bruce Heilman, appeared and formally apologized. Heilman told the angry clerics, however, that "I cannot make professors do things, I cannot muzzle them," according to the official state South- [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]