Sokal's experiment and findings are a fitting lament for the deplorable moral and academic condition of many of our college campuses, which is the byproduct of the American cultural elite's rejection of absolute truths and traditional values in favor of postmodern relativism. Sokal is not exaggerating about this growing tendency on many campuses to reject the very concepts of truth and falsity.
Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts offers a history course in which a number of books are required reading. On the back cover of one of the books, the following statement appears. "It is commonplace today to suggest that gender is socially constructed, that the roles women and men fulfill in their daily lives have been created and defined for them by society and social institutions." Along the lines of Sokal's parody thesis, this book argued that different roles of men and women are all social constructs-artificially created by society. The authors, to borrow Sokal's phrase, are denying the existence of objective realities. Reality, whether about the sexes or anything else, is reduced to a subjective phenomenon-it's whatever we choose to make it. There are no absolutes. Postmodernists devalue human life, and some of them go so far as to see human nature itself as a "social construct." As postmodern psychologist Kenneth Gergen explains in The Saturated Self, "With the spread of postmodern consciousness, we see the demise of personal definition, reason, authority All intrinsic properties of the human being, along with moral worth and personal commitment, are lost from view."
Thus it is no mystery that Christianity is unacceptable to the postmodern paragons of tolerance. For the Christian worldview holds that the one and only God objectively intervened (and intervenes) in history and that its truth claims are absolutely valid and open to rational, empirical investigation. Truth, to Christians, is not a function of whatever a person says it is. Nor is a religion valid simply because someone affirms it. Postmodernists-those who peddle the euphemisms of tolerance, diversity, openness, multiculturalism, and the rest-view Christianity as inherently in conflict with their subjective assumptions about the world, including their notion that truth itself is just a tool to justify power. "We cannot," says postmodernist Michel Foucault, "exercise power except through the production of truth." So it is that postmodernists fear and oppose those who subscribe to absolute truth.
Postmodernism gives rise to such ideas as that tolerance requires us not just to permit the free expression of all ideas, but also to accept all beliefs as equally valid. This mindset discourages reason, because reason itself is tainted by our socially constructed realities. This mentality also largely rejects the evaluation of ideas on moral grounds, since no one can possibly be in a position to make such judgments. But since Christianity, by its very nature, cannot submit to such intellectual anarchy, it is a glaring exception to the rule that all ideas must be accepted as equally valid. The postmodern rule, more accurately formulated, is that all ideas must be tolerated except those that refuse to accept the doctrine that all ideas are equally valid. For all these reasons, postmodernism is innately anti-Christian.
In short, "the reason postmodernists find Christians so irritating is that we keep violating the rules by speaking of our beliefs in terms of real, objective truth. This is regarded as a category mistake," says scholar and writer Nancy Pearcey.
How, you might ask, does this philosophy affect teaching in the core disciplines? Well, it's rather obvious that when you reduce truth to subjective preferences, the subject matter of any educational curriculum is devalued. If truth is merely an expression of subjective, socially constructed content formulated by those who hold power, it follows that academics are free to rewrite history, for example, to rectify the bias injected by the powers that wrote the textbooks.
This explains, for example the so-called multiculturalists' preoccupation with "correcting" the record to give "truth" its proper balance toward all ethnicities. In an article for Frontpagemagazine.com, Bridgewater State University student J. D. Cassidy described his experience with this in a history course titled Social and Cultural History of Early Modern Europe. The professor told the students that he had excised from the course title the words intellectual history because they were "not in step with contemporary scholarship," in that "intellectual history" deals primarily with "dead white males."
Such political indoctrination in place of real education is too common to shock anymore, but the same student's experience in another class reveals just how far afield certain professors are in misdirecting their often unsuspecting students. Cassidy related a story about a course titled North American Women's and Gender History. In this class, the professor "was a flaming leftist" who ran the class "like a cult." She used two cartoon illustrations she had cut out of newspapers as the primary material for one lecture.
One illustration showed the Statue of Liberty bent over and weeping. Cassidy said that, since the sketch was made shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks, it was obvious to him that the artist was expressing the nation's grief. The professor instead examined the drawing through the subjective prism of feminism. She asserted that the artist chose the statue because American culture allows women to cry, but not men. The artist, constrained by cultural forces (presumably, live white guys), had surrendered his artistic freedom. To the professor, this constituted proof that society has established "gender roles" that men and women must follow. She said the purpose of her history course was to locate these gender roles and reject them.
After describing other courses and course materials, Cassidy concluded that many leftist professors are doing more than just indoctrinating students with their zany ideas-which is certainly troubling enough. "By substituting radical tracts for real history, leftist professors completely insulate students not only from conservative ideas, but from history itself." The same could be said for any core subject where political indoctrination masquerades as teaching.
Postmodern theory holds not only that truth is defined by power, but that speech is as well. It is through such convoluted gyrations that many campus liberals rationalize selective limits on the expression of ideas. Some of the foundational reasons behind the free and open exchange of ideas are that such a process will more likely lead to the discovery of truth and serve as a watchdog against those in power. But when the reality of truth itself is rejected, the nobility of the avenues toward it, such as free expression, loses its appeal. If speech is dictated by power, then what can be wrong with regulating it? In fact, such speech management can be seen as more important than freedom of speech itself because regulation of the powerful, not the free flow of ideas, serves as the watchdog against political oppressors. In this way, the slippery slope of postmodern relativism leads us to the tyranny of political correctness against Christianity we witness on campus today.
We have been examining the war against Christianity taking place in our education institutions. Now we continue to Part II, the War for the Public Square, where we'll see the same secular forces actively seeking to scrub Christianity, by force, from American culture. Just as with the education system, the hypocrisy of the secularists is on full display everywhere you look in society. While working to sanitize the public square of all things Christian, they are anxiously promoting non-Christian values in these same venues. In Chapter Six we'll examine their efforts to cleanse the government and government property of Christianity.
The War for the Public Square
People have varying views on the extent to which religious expression and symbols, particularly those related to Christianity, should enter the public square. While few would advocate government endorsement of religion, many apparently believe the public square should be a religion-free zone. In modern America, public officials tend to resolve such differences in favor of those wishing to effect a complete religious ban. Most of the time, concerns over the separation of church and state drive the scrubbing of the public square, but sometimes there is no government link at all. Because of the reputed intolerance of Christianity, societal forces often seek to purge it from public view, just to avoid the possibility that non-Christians may be offended by this "exclusive" religion.
While at the founding of this nation there was largely a Christian cultural consensus among the citizens, today in some circles the label "Christian" is considered a badge of dishonor. This is because it is perceived as incompatible with the diversity in our modern culture. Those who claim to be merely trying to remove all traces of intolerance from the public arena give little thought to acts of discrimination toward Christians, who often surrender without a fight. It could be that they either wish to avoid controversy or they anticipate that courts will be sympathetic to the "purging" view-removing Christian symbols or muzzling Christian expression.
The war for the public square has continued to unfold in a number of areas, as we'll see in Chapters Six through Ten. This chapter examines the battle to exclude Christian influence and presence from the seats of government and government property. Chapter Seven chronicles the battle against public officials, employees, and appointees. Chapter Eight focuses on the battle against the church and lay people seeking to promote their Christian beliefs and also on the attacks against Christianity in the private sector. Chapter Nine documents the state's endorsement of non-Christian values and the popular culture's insensitivity toward Christians and their beliefs. Chapter Ten examines attacks on Christians by Hollywood and the mainstream media.
Purging Christianity from the Government and Government Property
OUR CONCERN IN THIS CHAPTER is to examine the fight to exclude Christianity from government. As we shall see, this attack on the founding principles of our nation is comprehensive in scope, occurring at every level of government, local, state, and federal, and is directed at the heart of Christian thought and practice.
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