Winter 2014 Academic Questions Features Special Section, "God and Guns"

National Association of Scholars

The special section of the winter 2014 Academic Questions (volume 27, number 4), “God and Guns,” explores the reasons why academia has become hostile both toward those who believe in God and toward those who promote firearm freedom. Can a belief in the right to bear arms only arise from bitterness about one’s lot, or can there be more positive reasons for such a belief? The same question emerges in conversations about religious convictions.

NAS members will receive printed copies of this issue in the mail. (NAS members, click here for instructions on how to get full online access to all AQ articles.)

The featured articles from the winter 2014 AQ are listed below.

This issue also includes poetry and book reviews not listed here, as well as "Books, Articles, and Items of Academic Interest" by Peter Wood.  Two of this issue’s articles (“Women in Philosophy: Problems with the Discrimination Hypothesis” by Neven Sesardic and Rafael De Clercq and “After the Interregnum” by Patrick J. Deneen) are available for free through

The Issue at a Glance

After the Interregnum

Patrick J. Deneen, University of Notre Dame

In the first entry of this issue’s special section, “God and Guns,” Patrick J. Deneen finds that both sides in the latest stage of the Culture Wars “represent a betrayal of the propermission of higher education”: the formation of students for “lives of responsible liberty grounded in a deep encounter with…the cultural inheritance of the West.” This development is “directly related” to a “century-long process of disaffiliation” of America’s colleges and universities “from their various religious foundations, identities, and commitments.”

Ms. Catalanos Complaint

David French, American Center for Law and Justice

In his “God and Guns” entry, David French examines the recent wave of cases in which campus administrators have demanded that specific Christian groups forego religious criteria when selecting leaders, “thus perverting religious nondiscrimination policies fromtheir intended, protective, purpose and turning them into weapons of ideological warfare against disfavored groups.” French outlines some of the creative strategies these organizations have used to safeguard their right to maintain their views.

Discriminatory Nondiscrimination

Nathan Harden

Nathan Harden digs deeper into instances of pressure placed on Christian organizations on campus, “where the freedom of expression ought to be safeguarded with a greater vigilance than anywhere else,” and finds that in the name of social justice, “plenty of college administrators are willing to silence those whose beliefs they despise.”

Why the Academy Needs Theological Discourse

Brad S. Gregory, University of Notre Dame

Brad S. Gregory argues in his “God and Guns” contribution that today’s troubled, secularized academy would benefit from “the hiring and support of scholars…who conduct theological inquiry in relationship to other academic disciplines from within the assumptions, sensibilities, and arguments characteristic of particular religious traditions—in short, scholars who are broad-minded, widely learned, and intellectually curious theologians.”


The Limits of Science and Theology

Nicholas Capaldi, Loyola University New Orleans

While Nicholas Capaldi agrees with, and adds to, Gregory’s diagnosis of certain dysfunctional features of American higher education, he disagrees with Gregory’s remedy and suggests alternative options.


Un-Donne: When Secular Students Confront Reverent Classics

Joan Faust, Southeastern Louisiana University

Today’s students of early modern literature are woefully ignorant of religious dogma, but need a religious context to understand and appreciate the authors and works they study. Joan Faust believes that literature professors must provide that context—“no matter how much time it takes out of our syllabi”—and offers detailed suggestions about how to do so.


Guns on Campus: A History

Clayton E. Cramer, College of Western Idaho

Debate about guns on campus is ongoing. In the second half of our special feature, Clayton E. Cramer outlines how weapons have always been an integral part of campus life and why the debate continues.


Gun-Free Campuses

Peter Wood, Academic Questions

After every school or college shooting the pressure to ban guns from campus increases. Peter Wood sketches out the impetus for and nature of gun-free campus campaigns.

Concealed Carry: The Only Way to Discourage Mass School Shootings

Nadia E. Nedzel, Southern University Law Center

Nadia E. Nedzel closes the “God and Guns” section with a confident and detailed argument that “concealed carry has reduced violent crime every time it has been passed and is therefore most likely to reduce the incidence of mass shootings in schools.”


American Democracy Ten Years after Abu Ghraib

John Agresto, John Agresto and Associates

In 2003–2004, John Agresto worked as a Pentagon civilian to rebuild higher education in Iraq. Ten years after revelations of American abuse in Abu Ghraib, an Iraqi prison just outside of Baghdad, he is still troubled by that behavior and the American response to it. Agresto explains why, linking it with recent developments in education. “It is the task of a constitutional democracy like ours,” he declares, “to show that liberty need not be equivalent to licentiousness, that rights can still have some connection to doing what is right, that freedom is not the…foe of traditional morality.”

True Liberalism versus Democratic Excess

Peter Augustine Lawler, Berry College

“There are always limits to intellectual freedom. And there sure are in America today,” notes Peter Lawler, who argues that students must learn about those limits as well as the potential of democracy in order to understand what freedom truly is and means.

Chiseling Away the Equal Protection Clause on Campus

George R. La Noue, University of Maryland Baltimore County

George R. La Noue brings readers up to date on two recent affirmative action cases that reached the Supreme Court, and warns that “identity politics will not only change the demography of universities, it will alter their commitment to the nonideological search for truth.” La Noue concludes that “the outcome of this struggle for [America’s] social compact and the future of higher education is not at all certain.”

Women in Philosophy: Problems with the Discrimination Hypothesis

Neven Sesardic, Lingnan University

Rafael De Clercq, Lingnan University

Many philosophers today attribute the underrepresentation of women in philosophy to bias, citing the lack of proportional representation to support their contention. Neven Sesardic and Rafael De Clercq categorize and counter the accusations to show that “proponents of the discrimination hypothesis” tend to present evidence selectively. The authors’ conclusion: proof is required.

Genes and Grit

Russell K. Nieli, Princeton University

In his review essay of The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America, by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld, and A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History, by Nicholas Wade, Russell K. Nieli discusses how “together the two books suggest that it is in some combination of genes, culture, parental upbringing, and group psychology that extraordinary group success is usually rooted.”

Image: Carleton College, Margaret Taylor, '10

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