The Battle for the Academy

WHILE ALMOST ALL OF AMERICA'S FIRST COLLEGES and universities, including Harvard and the other Ivy League schools, were founded as Christian institutions, today secular liberals who are openly hostile to Western civilization, traditional values, and Christianity dominate their campuses. Just as with the teachers in our public schools, university professors inject their biases into their classrooms. There is hardly any pretense of values-neutrality, as secularists present their indoctrinating materials to students throughout the land, sometimes subtly, and other times overtly. The Williamsburg Charter Survey of Religion and Public Life reported in 1988 that "nearly one out of three academics said that Evangelicals are a 'threat to democracy." It seems that in the fifteen years since that survey, this anti-Christian sentiment has only intensified.

This is sobering, considering the enormous influence professors have on society. And it's outrageous, in view of the contrasting ideological and theological makeup of the parents whose students attend these universities and whose funds support them. Because of difficulties in polling and the fluid nature of public opinion, it is difficult to ascertain with certainty the percentages of the American public that are politically conservative, liberal, moderate, or simply apathetic. The same is true in determining the theological inclinations of the populace, since nominal religious and denominational identification doesn't necessarily correspond with peoples' actual beliefs.

But one thing is certain. The American public is anything but monolithic with respect to religion. And, by any measure, a strong majority consider themselves Christians.5 Yet their views are grossly underrepresented in our venues of higher learning. While these institutions present themselves as open to all viewpoints, they are largely dogmatic propaganda centers with an antipathy for the values that a substantial portion of the American people holds sacred. And it's disgraceful. In writing about this glaring imbalance, author and Berkeley professor emeritus of law Phillip E. Johnson said, "Although most Americans are at least nominally theists and a substantial portion build their lives on theistic principles, naturalistic philosophy rules the

5 D. James Kennedy noted that 78% of Americans claimed to be Christians. D. James Kennedy with Jerry Newcombe, The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1996), 9, quoting from Richard N. Ostling, "In So Many Gods We Trust," Time, January 30, 1995, 72; A more recent survey showed the percentage to have increased to eighty. The Rev. Thomas R. Swain, "Christians Need to Walk the Walk," The Hutchinson News, November 15, 2002. And a Barna Research Group survey found that 85% of Americans considered themselves Christians. Barna Research Online, January 29, 2002.

academic roost absolutely. The idea that God might really exist is rarely seriously considered," but "classroom advocacy of atheism is common and everywhere assumed to be protected by academic freedom. Many philosophy professors make a career of fashioning arguments that support or assume atheism and students frequently tell me about courses that incorporate heavy-handed ridicule of theistic religion." James Tunstead Burtchaell, in a First Things article entitled "The Decline and Fall of the Christian University (II)," called it the "learned disdain for faith," and historian Paul Johnson wrote of the "extreme secularization" of the academy.

Some campus insiders contend that Christian professors in general are denied the freedom to express their beliefs. George Marsden, a Notre Dame history professor, said, "In the most prestigious parts of American academia, religious scholars are given less of a voice than are, for instance, Marxist scholars. That is astonishing given the relative sizes of their respective constituencies in the American population." Christian evangelist Chuck Colson laments the absence of true academic freedom and inquiry. "We are left with a disturbing paradox," he said. "While higher education is better funded and more accessible than ever before, it has nothing left worth teaching. Our educational establishment seeks to instill a passion for intellectual curiosity and openness, but allows for the existence of no truth worth pursuing."

In addition to the pronounced secular bias, Christians in American colleges are subjected to rampant discrimination in a variety of forms, as this chapter documents. Ironically, the discrimination often occurs in the name of "tolerance" and "diversity." Or as David French of the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) put it: "Experience teaches that religious individuals and organizations are most often victimized by university policies that, in theory, were enacted to promote tolerance, diversity, and fairness."

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