Thursday, January 29, 2009

Indoctrination at Marquette: Psychology 112 -- The Psychology of Prejudice

In a sense, this post isn’t news. That rigid politically correct indoctrination happens on university campuses is well known.

But one might believe that at a Catholic university, Catholic doctrine would at least be tolerated. One ought to be able to hold Catholic beliefs without being demeaned and derided. But not in Psychology 112 -- The Psychology of Prejudice, taught by Debra Oswald. And certainly not where homosexuality is concerned.

We got the following critique of the course from a student (in fact, a very good student) who took it.
Equal Voice for All

After taking a Psychology of Prejudice class this past semester, I was extremely disgusted by the obvious attempts of liberals to indoctrinate students to their ideology. The main focus of the class was supposedly to encourage “tolerance and understanding” amongst individuals, regardless of race, gender, ethnic background, and even religious beliefs. What I was taught instead was that the only views that are going to be tolerated are those that agree with mainstream liberal thought. If you hold any opinions that are inconsistent with the liberal beliefs you are considered a bigot and uneducated.

One quote I heard one time from a speaker I once heard says it best, “To only be taught one side of an argument is to be indoctrinated. To be shown both sides of an argument and then you make a decision, then you have been taught.” Psychology of Prejudice does not teach students, it indoctrinates them by presenting straw man arguments of alternative viewpoints and by silencing disputes from the opposition with the accusation that they are “bigots”.

I probably endorse beliefs about tolerance more than the ones who scream the loudest about it because I think that true tolerance means being willing to let another person have equal voice even when you disagree with them. That is not true today in the college today, and certainly not true in Psychology of Prejudice. Today if you adhere to the Bible as a basis of belief you are considered to hold discriminatory beliefs (especially if you take a literal reading of the scriptures). This includes racism, sexism, and heterosexism. Forget being able to hold any views on morality that are based on the Bible because you will be considered narrow-minded and out of touch.

If one listens to what scripture says about romantic relationships, you will most likely be hit from two sides. In my class my professor actually read out of the Bible to “prove” how sexist it is. She decided to read from Ephesians 5:22-23 which says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church…” She completely ripped the passage out of context and did not read any other passages like where it commands husbands to “love their wives as their own body.” Nowhere in the Bible does it teach that a man is supposed to treat her as if she were beneath him, nor does it say anything about men being better than women (it actually teaches that they are equal before God). But yet the class teaches that those who adhere to the literal reading of Bible are sexist.

My question is where is the tolerance for those who decide to believe in the Bible and what it teaches? Why is it that a biblical worldview cannot be taught in school, yet a worldview that never passes up an opportunity to attack faith can be rammed down our throats?

This need to attack those who adhere to faith did not come through more clearly than with the frequent remarks from our teacher about how homosexuality is a perfectly acceptable sexual practice. Anyone who says differently is considered ignorant in eyes of psychology. We were told repeatedly that if we think that homosexuality is wrong that is being prejudiced. This was true regardless of what you did or said about your beliefs.

Now, I think it is wrong to attack someone because of their sexual orientation, and I think it is wrong to treat them inhumanely; but I think that I have the right to believe whether or not it is sin and not be discriminated against because of my beliefs. Who has the right to tell me that I am wrong and that my opinions need to be eradicated? I have no problem simultaneously believing that homosexuality is sin but yet accepting a homosexual person as human being and treating him or her as such. I know this is true because I have had homosexual teachers (both male and female) and I got along very well with both of them and was actually friends with both of them. In fact, they were both fully aware of my beliefs towards homosexuality but they could see that I did not judge them on the basis of that one sin and they still enjoyed interacting with me. We even were able to discuss our beliefs about it because both my teachers and I were being transparent. Now I think that is true tolerance.

Psychology of Prejudice is teaching us that the only way to accept someone is to ignore everything about them and say everything they do is okay. The truth is that this is impossible. Everybody with any moral beliefs at all (and liberals are absurdly moralistic about certain matters) will believe that other people hold bad beliefs and do bad things. Clearly the liberal ideology of “tolerance” only goes as far as those who tolerate what they agree with. How much tolerance does it take to put up with someone that never disagrees with you? If the liberals were truly secure in their beliefs that would have no issue with letting the people of faith get equal access in the classroom, but the reality is that will never happen.

We were shown a video about how a young “Christian” man took part in a 30 day challenge to see if his views of homosexuality would change. He was thrown into the heart of San Francisco and lived with a homosexual man. He was submerged in the homosexual culture and in fact met a few times with a lesbian pastor. Throughout his time there he was repeatedly challenged as to why he thought homosexuality was wrong. His answers were weak and demonstrated little to no understanding of what the Bible teaches about it. In fact, the film made it seem that any Christian that wants to be so “rigid” as to say that the passages about homosexuality should be taken literally is actually a hypocrite because he or she is ignoring other passages. At the end of the film this young man comes to this “epiphany” and realizes that he has been wrong and that homosexuality is not the result of choices that homosexuals made in the past. In the film the guy remarked about how it was so difficult for him to go back to his “intolerant” religious family after he had “learned so much.”

Now, I have no problem with people wanting to believe whatever they want about the cause of homosexuality. But what I want to see is fair and balanced coverage of both sides. There are numerous stories about men and women who were homosexual but yet through a faith experience turned away from that and become heterosexual and testify to the fact that even though they thought they were happy as homosexuals, in hindsight they now realize that they were not. But we are never shown these stories. I also find it interesting that the faith perspective is not allowed to be advocated in the classroom, yet my teacher has complete liberty to attack it and set up straw man arguments against it. All I am asking for is an accurate and fair depiction of the faith perspective if you are going to attack it. Or, better yet, why not learn to tolerate it?
Given that the course clearly dealt with “prejudice” against various politically correct “victim” groups, we asked the student whether it ever dealt with (1) prejudice against devout and conservative Catholics, (2.) prejudice against fundamentalist Christians, (3) black racism toward whites, (4) feminist prejudice against men, (5) prejudice against Southerners, (6) prejudice against working class people (As in “All in the Family” or the movie “Joe”), or (7) prejudice against business executives?

His answer was “no” for all except (3). As for (3) he said “Not really, anytime it came up in a movie for class, black racism was almost always justified as merely a strong sense of black identity in light of ‘years of oppression.’”

Prof. Oswald failed to respond to our voice mail and e-mail requests for an interview.

It’s one thing to allow criticism and discussion of Catholic doctrine and beliefs in a Catholic university. Doing that is necessary in a university.

But shouldn’t students be allowed to embrace Catholic doctrine, and argue for it in the classroom, without being attacked and derided? Shouldn’t questions about whether the Bible is “sexist” and whether homosexuality is a legitimate “lifestyle” be open to discussion?

Not for secular and politically correct faculty who are as rigidly orthodox in their liberal beliefs as the worst clerics of bygone days.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

6 Comments:

Blogger TosaGuy said...

It gets harder and harder to for this alum to donate to MU. Why donate money to a Catholic university that increasingly ignores and mocks Catholic teachings? My future donations, if any, will only be for the basketball team.

Go Marquette! Crush Georgetown!

9:34 AM  
Blogger Matt Wion said...

Not being in the class nor knowning the teacher, I cannot judge on this particular case.

When I raise the issue of homosexuality in my ethics courses, I certainly would not call students who oppose it as "sin" bigots.

But let us look more deeply at this: Suppose a student told me that blacks, or whites, or browns or whoever were inferior and deserved to be segregated. In response, if I deemed him a bigot, I should harldy be some "intolerant liberal" but merely correct.

I once had a student espouse anti-semitic views in class. I silenced him by saying that hate speach was not allowed. Was that an example of "liberal intolerance?"

Now, some of us are pretty convinced that thinking homosexuality sinful is nothing more than a bias. This is because we can find no rational or plausible argument against homosexual behavior.

Nevertheless, I don not think someone who deems homosexuaity immoral is necessarily a bigot. And I don't think this is the same as racism or other biogtry.

But clearly the teacher can and should argue against the claim that homosexuality is immoral? That is her job!!

Perhaps that is all she did? She need not be dismissing all conservatives by simply arguing.

As for Bible literalism . .. let us be honest. Taking the Bible as infallible and inerrant is a very irrational position. And to my knowledge, the Catholic Church - and most mainline protestant churches - do not require such a belief.

Two examples will suffice to prove the problem with Biblical literalism:

Exodus 21:7 permits a man to sell his daughter into slavery.

In the first book of Samuel, God commands a genocide of the Amalakites, even their children are to be destroyed.

Cleary we cannot believe such ideas come from God. And there are numerous such passages in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament.

That is not to say that the Bible is not "The Word of God."

Many traditonal/conservative theologians, with orthodox creedal beliefs, readily admit that the Bible contains human error and bias. "The word of God, in the words of men."

Denying Biblical literalism is not inherently anti-christian or anti-catholic.

In fact, let us be honest, no one can read the scriptures and not see the human errors in them unless they are willingly blind.

Sure, Levitus codemn homosexuality as an abomoniation - the penalty is death by the way, which I notice no one today is advocatingg -, but it also condemns the wearin of garments of blended fabrics, and the trimming of the corners of one's beard

Why is homosexuality any more "timeless" a bad than the otehrs?

True Paul condemns homosexuality in the New Testament. He also condemns women having short hair and men having log hair. Is that also "the will of God?"

So I think as educators, when it comes up, we must provide arguments agaist Biblical literalism.

Perhaps this particular instructor was uncharitable and bigoted toward her conservative students, dismissing them curtly.

Perhaps not. Perhaps all she did was provide, pretty solid arugments, that even very pious catholics with orthodox faith would adhere to, for denying the validity of a literal reading of scripture.

Don't get me wrong, if people want to be Biblical literalist they have every right. I always tell my students that this is there decesion to make,

But clearly we should explain the arguments against Biblical literalism, if it is relevant to the course.

as for arguments in favor of Biblical literalism? What are they? Other than an argument from authority?

11:18 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

But let us look more deeply at this: Suppose a student told me that blacks, or whites, or browns or whoever were inferior and deserved to be segregated. In response, if I deemed him a bigot, I should harldy be some "intolerant liberal" but merely correct.

But that begs the question as to whether the cases are analogous.

Clearly you think they are. The question is whether you are willing to tolerate speech that contradicts your position.

I once had a student espouse anti-semitic views in class. I silenced him by saying that hate speach was not allowed. Was that an example of "liberal intolerance?"

Again, this begs the question as to whether the cases were analogous.

By the way, I would rather tolerate and have discussed "hate speech" (if it raised any issue worth discussing, like holocaust denial) than to silence it.

By the way, who gets to decide what is "hate speech?"

Suppose somebody said something nasty about Christian fundamentalists? Would you silence that as "hate speech?"

I'm not sure, since you agree with the thrust of it.

Now, some of us are pretty convinced that thinking homosexuality sinful is nothing more than a bias. This is because we can find no rational or plausible argument against homosexual behavior.

OK, you think the Catholic position on homosexuality is irrational and implausible. Don't you have the obligation to allow it a fair hearing in your classes?

But clearly the teacher can and should argue against the claim that homosexuality is immoral? That is her job!!

Actually, in a psychology class, it's not her job to argue anything about morality.

But why isn't it her job to allow arguments on both sides?

As for Bible literalism . .. let us be honest. Taking the Bible as infallible and inerrant is a very irrational position. And to my knowledge, the Catholic Church - and most mainline protestant churches - do not require such a belief.

But the Catholic Church says that homosexual acts are sinful, and that SSA is "disordered."

As for your claim that, in effect, we can dismiss anything the Bible says that's inconvenient, simply because it says some things that everybody disregards today:

1. The Old Testiment law is not binding on Christians today. That's the Christian position. Even a philosopher who taught at Marquette should know that.

2. Some things are cultural, like what the proper length ones hair should be. Paul is simply counseling conformity to norms of decency. If he were writing today, he would still counsel conformity to norms of decency, which would be different.

But some things he (and Jesus too) viewed as inherently immoral.

"Biblical literalism" isn't the issue, anyway. Christians have a right to interpret the Bible they way they want. When they interpret it the way the Catholic Church does, they should find their views respected at Marquette, even if they are also exposed to other views.

This "Biblical literalism" red herring actually shows a bias against Christians and Christian teaching.

Believing that the Bible condemms homosexuality is not like believing that the world was created in seven days. It's part of a consistent view of sexuality that extended into New Testiment teaching.

Obviously, you disagree with it. But you need to respect it.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Matt Wion said...

I will clarify a few things here.

1. I do not think that someone who believes homosexuality is a sin is unpar with a racist. They are not equivelent.

I do think there motivating is bias, but its is not the same thing as outright discrmination and hate. In fact I said as much in my last comment.

When students have expressed the view tht homosexuality is immoral in class, I have never silenced them.

In fact I usually present a "Natural Law" argument to that conclusion. I also present arguments that it is not immoral.

It is up to the students to make up their minds.

The only student I ever asked to "be quite" was the anti-semtic student. He was denying the holocaust and saying negative things about Jews "calling them liars."

Several people very close and important to me our Jewish, in fact, some of them are even Israeli. So I took that matter very seriously. I despise anti-semtism, even more than other forms of biogtry.

This is why it is very painful for me to criticize Israeli policies in Gaza and the West Bank. I admire much about Israel, and greatly admire the Jewish faith and Jewish people.

I do think, however, that I should have let him keep talking. He showed how foolish and bigoted he was, and I could have used it to explore the roots of such awful thinking.

You raise a good point about that in your comment.

2. There is a tremendous bias against Christians in academia. I've been in classes as a student and conferences as a participant, in which Christianity is mocked and sneered at.

This too is bias. Christians are mocked and derided. That is not fair.

I have twice had atheist students say hateful things about Christianity, and I have presented arguments against them.

I think hatred of evangelicals is particularly a problem, bt also catholics.

It's unfortunate that academia has this bias, and I do not in any way suppor i.

3. As to the authority of Scripture. It seems to me that the mainstream Christian tradition holds that scripture is not all meant literally, and not free from Scientific or Historical error. But, Scripture is held to be inerrant with regard to its teachings on faith and morals. As far as I can tell that is your position as well.

I do not find that position tenable. I think one can clearly see moral errors in scripture (such as condoning slavery and genocide), and theological errors (attributing ignorance, and even at some points body parts, to God).

My own position is NOT that we can simply leave aside those parts of the Bible that we do not like. Rather, I think we have to admit that the Bible is fully a human product, and IN NO WAY inerrant or a divine product.

I do no mean to put the Bible down. I think there is tremendous insight there, great stories, timeless truths.

But I see the Bible as a human response to God, not God's revelaion to us.

This means that we must use our own reason to evaluate what scriture teaches, and cannot simply say "The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it."

4. Why should I assume that Paul's or the Book of Leviticus' teachings on homosexuality are any less a culturally conditioned way of thinking then are the dietary laws or Paul's view on Hair length?

You assert that the Bible has one view on sexuality. That is simply false. The Hebrew Scriptures are fine with Polgyamy, and with men taking lovers in addition to their wives, even prostetutes!

The New Testament does appear to have a unified view of sexuality. But on the other hand, sexuality is not a very important issue in the N. T. And I see no reason to believe that the views expressed there are anything other than culturally conditioned views.

Pyschology and Anthropology and other fields allow us to be light years ahead of the N. T. authors on issues of sexualty and sexual relations. Just as astronomy and physics put as light years ahead of them in cosmology.

It time we all accepted that.

5. Finally, true. The Catholic Church does have a conistent view of human sexuality. As far as I can tell that view derives from an ethic of Natural Law.

Natural Law is a very repectable and rational moral theory. The theory has very specific and serious sexual implications.

Now I am not persuaded by natural law theory. But I do respect those who are. And it is the extension of natural law reasonsing into sexual matters that condemns homosexuality as immoral.

This is a rational stance, and does deserve respect. I disagree with it, but I have no problem doing so respectfully.

5:24 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Let me say first that you seem to have a quite tolerant view of your role in the classroom.

My only disagreement is that you silenced a holocaust denier, rather than trying to discuss the issue. But you seem to have second thoughts about that, and don't sound like you actually disagree with me.

I did deal a bit roughly with a student who made an anti-Semitic comment in my class once. He said that he was working for three guys in a law firm, and they were "real bastards" or some such.

That would have been OK, but he then added "they were Jews." I told him "I don't ever want to hear anything like that again in this class."

But that was a contentless attack on the Jews. If somebody denied the holocaust in my classes, I would discuss the issue, since that is an historical debate -- no matter how misguided and probably bigoted one side is.

But let me discuss some theological issues.

But I see the Bible as a human response to God, not God's revelaion to us.

This means that we must use our own reason to evaluate what scriture teaches, and cannot simply say "The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it."


OK, you aren't a Christian.

But as for "evaluating the scripture," I think everybody has to have some source of moral authority. In fact, I think you almost certainly do, but don't realize it.

The New Testament does appear to have a unified view of sexuality. But on the other hand, sexuality is not a very important issue in the N. T. And I see no reason to believe that the views expressed there are anything other than culturally conditioned views.

Well Paul told the Corinthians:

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Does this sound like a collection of cultural biases, or a statement of moral principles?

I don't see how you can say the New Testiment doesn't care about sexual morality.

Of course, since you don't believe the Bible is inspired, you have no reason to take anything it says very seriously.

But Christians aren't merely invoking Natural Law. They are taking the scriptures seriously, and interpreting them reasonably.

I do not find that position tenable. I think one can clearly see moral errors in scripture (such as condoning slavery and genocide), and theological errors (attributing ignorance, and even at some points body parts, to God).

What you consider a "theological error" might not be viewed the same way by others.

For example, the Bible "condones slavery." Slavery was very different in the Old Testiment than the slavery we think of. Typically it was the result of poverty. If you had kids whom you just could not feed, selling them into slavery was a way to keep them alive. Not a nice situation, but better than starvation.

Attributing body parts to God? A literary device, for heavens sake!

But I probably shouldn't be picking an argument with you on this, since your teaching philosophy appears to be tolerant enough.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Matt Wion said...

Thank you. I hope you are correct in your assesment! I do strive to be as tolerant and impartial as I can.

by the way, I've herd very good things about your teaching from students and in particular about your impartiality.

I don't really adress the Bible much in my philosophy classes. But it does come up now and again in ethics, and in philosophy of human nature.

I always stress the power of the text. It's beauty, powerful stories, great moral truths, insights into the human condition, the remarkable life and person of Jesus.

The Bible contains some of the "greatest stories ever told." The Exodus, Nathan's rebuke of David's adultery, The expulsion from paradise, Job's trials, the ministry of Jesus, the travels of Paul.

And the truly great moral truths "treat others as you want to be treated," "Love your neighbor as yourself," "love your enemy," "do not render evil for evil," "put away your sword," "The Lord is my shepard," and so on.

A remarkable faith and a remarkable book.I do wish there was less hostility to this faith in the academy.

1:14 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home