In this piece over at Minding the Campus, attorney David French discusses the impact of recent judicial decsions on college campus civil liberties. It's not looking good for evangelical Christian organizations - such as those at San Diego State University - who seem to have run afoul of the "good intentions" of senior administrators.
Today in the Chronicle of Higher Education Innovations blog, Peter Wood writes about Martin Gaskell, who contends that the University of Kentucky discriminated against him and did not appoint him as the director of its new observatory because the search committee suspected him of being "potentially evangelical."
Wellesley, Mass.'s head of schools has publicly apologized after learning middle schoolers participated in a Muslim prayer service during a field trip last spring. During the outing the students visited the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) mosque, a controversial site because of its ownership by the Muslim American Society and questionable activities surrounding its construction. A videotape showing the prayer session, with five boys kneeling along with Muslim worshippers, was recently published. The parent who taped the session remains anonymous. Now what do you think possibly could account for this?
The Cardinal Newman Society has officially launched an ambitious, multi-faceted new "legacy" project to help preserve more than 10,000 manuscripts handwritten by the 19th-century theologian John Henry Cardinal Newman and to promote Newman’s views on Catholic education and doctrine. Making his writings, including The Idea of a University, more accessible to scholars and the public is the goal of the Newman Legacy Project. “Newman has much to offer the Catholic Church in America: a strong dose of courageous faith, a commitment to reason and a thorough critique of secularism,” said Patrick J. Reilly, President of the society.
This summer has been a pretty rough ride for students and faculty whose religious convictions run counter to campus PC trends concerning homosexuality. We've recently seen the summary dismissal (and subsequent reinstatement) of professor Kenneth Howell at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. This came on the heels of a federal judge's ruling last month upholding Eastern Michigan University's right to drop a student from its counseling program because her religious beliefs prevented her from endorsing the lifestyes of gay clients. Now, a virtually identical ruling has just been handed down by a federal court in favor of Georgia's Augusta State University ( read about it here at Inside Higher Education), where a graduate student in a counseling has been given the option of swallowing her religious convictions or leaving the program. That's what both students ended up doing, since they did not want to attend Gay Pride celebrations as a means of correcting their retrograde views of homosexuality. Here again, the court ruled that the university and its program were simply acting within wholly acceptable bounds of professional standards and non-discriminatory conduct, which did not restrict any student's freedom of conscience. As I noted previously, I can't really believe that an agnostic gay counselor with reservations about Christian evangelicals would be required to attend church or Bible study sessions in hopes of altering his negative perspective. I wonder though: what happens when someone comes along who objects to these Orwellian requirements on purely clinical grounds? It's not likely, I know, but a few such people are out there, and it would be interesting to see how the PC forces that presently monopolize the "helping" professions would handle that one. They'd think of something, I'm sure.
In today's Pope Center Clarion Call, psychologist Deborah Tyler writes about some recent research done at UNC, where students were told to imagine and then write about incest with a family member and also that the family member had been involved in a serious car accident. The purpose of the experiment was to see if, as the researchers supposed, religiously-minded students were more inclined to exhibit "thought-action fusion" than non-religious students. Dr. Tyler explains her reasons for strongly disapproving of this project.
It's nice to be able to end the week on an upbeat note: the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign announced yesterdy that it has reinstated adjunct reilgious studies professor Kenneth Howell (read about it here in CHE). Howell had regularly taught a course in Catholic moral theology at U of I at U of I since 2001. He was summarily dismissed, however, following a complaint from a student - not actually enrolled in the course - who took issue with Howell's presentation of Catholic teaching on homosexuality. (see Peter Wood's account here). This was truly bizarre: without so much as interviewing professor Howell or any of the students actually taking the course, university officials removed him within days of receiving the complainant's second-hand version of Howell's conclusions, on the pretext that he had violated the school's principle of "inclusivity." I still don't know what that is, but it sure can get you into a lot of trouble. Anyway, following a public uproar and much well-deserved embarassment, U of I has rescinded his termination and offered him his customary teaching assignment for the Fall semester. The single change will be his direct employment and compensation by the University, rather than through the campus Catholic center, by which he was previously paid. All's well that ends well, as they say. The whole episode, though, should never have transpired to begin with. That it did tells you what truly bad shape academic freedom is in these days.
Yesterday, good news, since we were elated to acknowledge FIRE's victory for academic freedom at a California community college. Today, back to the more familiar bad news, since a federal judge has upheld the right of Eastern Michigan University to expel Julea Ward, an evangelical Christian student who was training as a high school guidance counselor. Ward, as we've reported previously, was just shy of graduating from EMU's counseling program when she was mugged by PC ideology. Because of her religious convictions, she could not agree to counsel prospective homosexual clients in the affirmative manner required by EMU's program. Should such a case arise, she said, she'd simply refer gay clients to other counselors able to accomodate their needs. Oh no, said EMU, that's not good enough, not by a mile. Sign this paper, or out you go. I can't, she insisted; you' re gone, they replied. Supported by the Alliance Defense Fund (read the ADF's press release here and an Inside Higher Education article here), she sued the school, contending that her First Amendment rights had been violated. Ordinarily, you'd expect First Amendment claims to weigh especially heavily in a case such as this, but the judge, alas, bought the university's argument about needing latitude in designing its curricula and programs, and the courts have always deferred in such instances, etc., etc. This isn't about thought control, insisted the counseling program's directors, it's simply a matter of recognizing the need to deal with a wide variety of clients, including those with beliefs different from one's own. Who could disagree? Maybe I'm cynical, but I somehow don't think a gay atheist will be required to declare that he's willing to counsel Southern Baptists in a manner that affirms their beliefs. ADF is appealing the case, and we wish them well. Increasingly though, it seems that the acceptable parameters for discussing homosexuality on campus these days are narrowly one-dimensional. And if you don't see the issue that way and you're a faculty member without tenure, or if you're a student and want your degree in counseling or social work, better keep quiet or go elsewhere.
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah just paid a visit to President Obama, almost two years after the deadline by which the kingdom’s educational curriculum was to have been overhauled. This reform has not take place, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom wrote to the president last week. As the National Review reports, this meeting was aimed at getting the two nations to coordinate in confronting terrorism and should also have been used by the president to personally persuade King Abdullah to fulfill his promise of textbook reform. As NR notes,
Saudi textbooks teach, along with many other noxious lessons, that Jews and Christians are “enemies,” and they dogmatically instruct that various groups of “unbelievers” — apostates (which includes Muslim moderates who reject Saudi Wahhabi doctrine), polytheists (which includes Shiites), and Jews — should be killed. Under the Saudi Education Ministry’s method of rote learning, these teachings amount to indoctrination, starting in first grade and continuing through high school, where militant jihad on behalf of “truth” is taught as a sacred duty. These textbooks are used not only in Saudi Arabia but in Saudi-funded schools around the world.
It remains to be seen whether the president broached the matter to any avail with the Saudi king.
If you follow the comment threads in places where anything concerning science is being discussed, you've probably noticed how little it takes to get some posters really apoplectic about the dangers to scientific inquiry posed by "fundamentalists," "creationists" or other assorted religious cranks and yahoos. Interestingly enough, virtually all of the science reportage I'm referring to isn't even remotely connected to the religion/science controversy. Nevertheless, the discussion doesn't get very far before someone weighs in with dark warnings about the fate of Galileo, the Scopes trial and McCarthyism [not scientific, I know but it gets in there anyway], along with much less decorous references to "bigots," "Christofascists," or "witch burners." Such dangerous people do exist, but it's pretty hard to find any of them on most college campuses. So why is it necessary to do battle with them when they don't even show up? More than that: even if no one says anything about religious belief at all in these venues, it's not the least unusual to encounter unprovoked, stern admonitions about the incompatibility of science and faith. Curious, to say the least. In this light, I'm hoping that something productive will come from a new initiative sponsored by the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, a Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion (DoSER), the subject of this piece today at Inside Higher Ed. One purpose will be to "facilitate communication" between science and religious belief, since the two are so often seen as mutually exclusive, and some commenters have already jumped in to insist that it must ever be so. Hopefully though, the tone of the "dialogue" can at least become a bit more civil, particularly on the part of those who so often mount a stiff defense when no one attacks.
Should campus groups be able to limit membership only to those who share a set of beliefs? Put it that way and the matter seems pretty innocuous. Ah, but if you state that in a pejorative way -- should they be allowed to discriminate against those who don't share that set of beliefs? -- then alarm bells go off in the academic world because "discrimination" is contrary to the cherished notion that all groups must be "diverse." And if it's a Christian group doing the discriminating, add flashing lights and sirens to the alarm bells. In today's Pope Center piece, I comment on the recently argued case Christian Legal Society v. Martinez. Even if five members of the Court have swallowed the diversity kool-aid and eventually decide against CLS and its First Amendment arguments, that doesn't mean that universities have to go along with the diversity uber alles approach of Hastings Law School. College officials can and should recognize that there is nothing harmful in letting campus groups set their standards for membership.
In recent years, threats from Islamic extremists have resulted in murder of those simply depicting Mohammed (forbidden by Islamic tradition, although not unknown to Islamic culture). From a prominent woman who fled Islamic death threats: "'South Park' and the Informal Fatwa" In a profile of cowardice, Comedy Central responded to a recent death threat by censoring the image of Mohammed on South Park You can "piss Christ," bash Buddha, mock the Pope, but humor is apparently not in the hadith.
Read: http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2010/apr/22/south-park-censored-fatwa-muhammad http://article.nationalreview.com/432601/self-censoring-isouth-parki/nina-shea
And here is the image (censored) that Comedy Central now allows:
When Danish cartoonists published cartoons of Mohammed, Islamic extremists rampaged worldwide and killed 100 people. Those who published the cartoons in the "land of the free" (USA) lost their jobs or were forced to grovel with apologies. Others had to go into hiding. Academics, of course, led the way by rotting out the foundations of any reasoned defense of a free and civil society. "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go" was the chant during the culture wars. There isn't much left of "Western Civ" or any civilization, unless it is Nihilism with cowardly fear (but not reverence) for Islam. Case in point: Years ago, Yale University admitted "Yale Taliban"--the propaganda minister for the Taliban--despite the fact he had only a fourth-grade education. Then, when Yale University Press published a book on the cartoon controversy, they censored the images for fear of death threats. Now it is another sniveling retreat in popular culture (South Park). "Land of the free"? "Home of the brave? More of the same. Shame on you Comedy Central!
See Inside Higher Ed:
Both sides in the case before the court argue that they are defending students from discrimination. "Often university officials don't like the religious groups and we see [colleges' anti-bias rules] as one more mechanism for keeping religious groups off campus," said Kim Colby, a lawyer for the Christian Legal Society, which wants the right to organize chapters at public law schools even if those law schools ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. The society excludes gay people -- and others who do not share its faith.
See also FIRE:
FIRE will be filing an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief with the Court in support of the Christian Legal Society's appeal, asking the Court to continue its longstanding protection of expressive association.
University administrators, moreover, seem to have a lot a trouble complying with the First Amendment. Let us pray that the Supreme Court will vindicate the foundational principles underlying our first freedom.
But just as the right to abortion, speech, or private education doesn’t yield a right to government funding of abortion, speech, or private education — and isn’t even violated by rules that expressly exclude abortion, certain subject matters of speech, or private education from generally available benefit programs — so the right to expressive association isn’t violated by rules that give benefits only to groups that organize themselves in a certain way. And while these conditions on funding would be unconstitutional if they discriminated based on the viewpoint of the groups’ speech, a ban on discrimination in selecting members or officers is a ban based on conduct, not on the viewpoint of the groups’ speech.
Surprise, surprise: multicultural dogma and concern for "the Other" have seeped from college campuses to the highest corridors of power (again).
To wit: The first veiled female appointee in the White House, Dalia Mogahed, member of the Presidential Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Mogahed recently appeared on an Islamic television show in the UK touting her Gallup poll purporting to show that women are OK with sharia. Westerners just don't get it, she says:
"the majority of women around the world associate gender justice, or justice for women, with sharia compliance. Whereas only a small fraction associated oppression of women with compliance with the shari`ah."**
For the transcript, click here. There was little news coverage, except for this British article.
Imagine if a president appointed a strict Christian adviser who stated: "gender justice means obeying the Bible and church rulings on it." Can you imagine the uproar?
The key point: Christians are not "the Other." The dominant or majority group is held to a different standard. "Others" get a pass because "it's an 'Other thing,' you just wouldn't understand."
Where is Western-style feminism when you need it? We don't lack for Women's Studies Departments that issue secular fatwas when they feel the pea of oppression through their seats in the Ivory Tower. Surely, they have something to say about treatment of women in Muslim countries? Alas, we must seek out a Yemeni feminist to criticize the appointment of Dalia Mogahed.
I can hear the comebacks: feminist critics of sharia are a minority (the abolitionists were a minority too). Or: "those uppity women need to read Dalia’s surveys and tighten their hijabs!"
**For Mogahed's puffed-up survey results, go to "Who Speaks for Islam?" For criticism of Gallup "spin" see Jihadwatch More to the point, read the conditions under which pollsters labor in Muslim countries, given the many restrictions on women and the watching eye of government and family. Do these restrictions lend themselves to representative opinion surveys?
Postscript: Apologies to Helen Reddy: "I am Woman" is the title of her best-selling song (1972). Reddy did not have sharia on her mind.