Letter to the Editor: Freedom of Discussion at Schools that are Really Religious
Professor McAdams,This tracks well with what we know about schools that are really religious, rather than (like Marquette) only nominally so.
I am a student at Brigham Young University. I just read a news article talking about your battle with Marquette University. I don’t have any witty analogy to Reformation era religious persecutions/politics to accompany this but I just want you to know I support you in your efforts against the close minded administrator/Inquisitors.
In the past, BYU has been labelled an institution where academic liberty is shunted toward a conservative viewpoint but from experience, I feel a student here who politely advocated gay marriage in classroom discussion wouldn’t be targeted by other students, faculty, or administrators. If freedom of speech protected to such an extent at a conservative, Mormon school then Marquette is clearly out of line.
If there is some way concerned students/citizens can support your cause, let me know.
Interestingly, Brigham Young does not have the official guarantees of free expression that secular schools have. For example, one adjunct faculty member was dismissed for writing in favor of gay marriage. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education does not attack institutions like Brigham Young for this sort of thing, since the institution makes it clear that it limits speech in certain ways. Thus everybody who applies there (whether for admission or a teaching job) knows and accepts the policies.
But official rules don’t necessarily correspond with cultural norms, and in schools were free expression exists in principle rigid intolerance can exist in practice. Of course, the converse can be true, and often is. Faithful Mormon faculty who oppose gay marriage are likely more tolerant of classroom disagreement with their views than politically correct secular leftists at places like Marquette.