Secular Activists Trying to Suppress Christian Schools
During the past few years, responding to ever-more draconian codes on secular campuses aimed at constraining free speech, dissenting voices have been raised here and there across the political spectrum, defending free expression and free association for all. This addition of conscientious objection outside conservative and religious ranks is a welcome development. It also brings us to one other large threat to free speech in education these days—one that’s still in the closet.Read the entire essay.
Secularist progressivism claims to champion diversity, but its activists today do not tolerate genuine diversity, including and especially in the realm of ideas, as revealed by today’s legal and other attacks on Christian colleges, Christian associations and clubs, Christian schools, Christian students, and Christian homeschooling.
These are bellwether ideological campaigns that have yet to garner the attention they deserve outside religious circles. Their logical conclusion is to interfere with and shut down Christian education itself—from elementary school on up to religious colleges and universities.
It’s Not An Education If It Includes Christian Ideas?Consider a few particulars. The Christian college club Intervarsity has had its credentials questioned on secular campuses around the country. So have other student groups including Chi Alpha and the Christian Legal Society, the focus of Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (2010), which found that Hastings College had not violated the First Amendment in forcing the CLS to accept members who violated its Christian moral code. During the past ten years, two high-profile Christian colleges—The King’s College in New York, and Gordon College in Massachusetts—have been subjected to accreditation battles. Meanwhile, home-schooling remains an object of attack by leftish pundits, New Atheists, the National Education Association, and other progressive standard-bearers.
Still other authorities want to discredit religious higher education altogether. Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2014, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania called accreditation for any Christian college a “scandal,” adding that “[p]roviding accreditation to colleges like [evangelical Protestant] Wheaton [College] makes a mockery of whatever academic and intellectual standards the process of accreditation is supposed to uphold.” Trinity Western University in Canada has likewise been embroiled for years in a battle to keep its accreditation—because its community members pledge not to have sex outside traditional marriage.
Let’s ask the obvious question: exactly whose schools are being attacked as unworthy, substandard, and undeserving of recognition? Christians’ schools, that’s whose—not progressive flagships like Bennington, Middlebury, or Sarah Lawrence. If religious traditionalists were fanning out to campaign against schools dominated by other canons, cacophony would resound from Cupertino to Bangor. But because the prejudice propelling these attacks has Christianity in its sights, no one outside religious circles objects.
These efforts to impede religious education are also part of an ongoing paradox. It is not Christian colleges that have made a habit of harassing and intimidating speakers who represent different points of view; it is nonreligious campuses. When socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders gave a speech in September 2015 at Liberty University, media accounts, including in The New York Times, took note of how courteous and polite the student body was, and how they unfailingly applauded a speaker who acknowledged at the outset profoundly disagreeing with their views.
Contrast their civility with the hostile reception certain other thinkers are guaranteed these days, just by setting foot on secular campuses. Followers of the Cross, especially, are often greeted by an especially bilious class of protester. Thus, for example, University of Tulsa students protested a former self-professed lesbian turned Christian—on the grounds that calling something “sinful” is “thinly veiled hate speech,” as one leader of the protest explained.
Similarly, when Jennifer Roback Morse—a former Ivy League professor and head of the Ruth Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to traditional Christian teaching—appeared at the University of California, Santa Barbara, 20 students interrupted her talk with chants, waving signs inscribed with various obscenities. When Christian speaker Ravi Zacharias spoke at the University of Pennsylvania, a local atheist group handed out bingo-style cards mocking the speaker to every student who entered the hall. The list could go on.
At MarquetteOne might believe that Marquette, a “Catholic” university, would at least be tolerant of Christian teachings about sexuality.
But to believe that, one would have to believe Marquette is really a Catholic university.
At Marquette, the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship was threatened with being kicked off campus for canning an officer who was engaged in a homosexual affair. He made it clear he did not accept Christian teaching about homosexuality, and would continue the affair. Under pressure from alumni, Marquette relented.
This was in 2011. Would Marquette back off today? We doubt it, given that the institution seems to seek out every way possible to pander to the campus gay lobby.
All of this, of course, represents the glaring hypocrisy of the Orwellian phrase “diversity and inclusion.” “Diversity” is interpreted to exclude a large body of ideas, including the ideas that Christians have about sexuality and the ideas that all civilizations have had about marriage until very recently. “Inclusion” means intolerant and exclusionary conduct toward Christians and others who hold to these ideas.