-Homosexual community celebrates inroads on California’s campuses
-Grace for monotonous work
-Marriage is important, but not because it’s a “24/7 sleepover party.”
-Student wins victory for free speech against Valdosta State University President
-Western Carolina University uses student money to sponsor “Sexual Empowerment Week.”
-Can marriage make you healthier?
At Brooklyn College this week, it seems that everyone is talking about academic freedom. A student group, Brooklyn College Students for Justice in Palestine, organized an event highlighting the “BDS” movement, which advocates for a boycott of Israel, urges people to divest companies that do business in Israel, and promotes sanctions against Israel. Holding this event in Brooklyn naturally sparks controversy, and the controversy only grew when the political science department chose to co-sponsor it.
Hoping to quell the critics, President Gould issued a letter outlining her commitment to free speech and academic freedom. She observed that “[s]tudents and faculty . . . have the right to invite speakers, engage in discussion, and present ideas to further educational discussion and debate.” She noted that the “mere invitation to speak does not indicate an endorsement of any particular point of view, and there is no obligation, as some have suggested, to present multiple perspectives at any one event.” Indeed, this is, in her mind, the very purpose of a university: “Providing an open forum to discuss important topics, even those many find highly objectionable, is a centuries-old practice on university campuses around the country. Indeed, this spirit of inquiry and critical debate is a hallmark of the American education system.” Thus, she emphasized that “it is essential that Brooklyn College remain an engaged and civil learning environment where all views may be expressed without fear of intimidation or reprisal.”
Not only is this her position, but the political science department also “fully agrees and has reaffirmed its longstanding policy to give equal consideration to co-sponsoring speakers who represent any and all points of view.” Those faculty also assured students that they “welcome—indeed encourage—requests to co-sponsor speakers and events from all student groups, departments, and programs.”
While many, such as Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School, may be skeptical, students should embrace the tremendous opportunity the President just gave them. They now have an open invitation—from the President herself—to put the College to the test. Does it really treasure academic freedom? Does it really celebrate vigorous debate of “any and all points of view”—even controversial or “highly objectionable” ones? Is it really an “environment where all views may be expressed without fear of intimidation or reprisal”? Or is all of this just empty rhetoric administrators trots out when citizens object to leftist or politically correct ideas?
Well, as they say, actions speak louder than words. Students can find out what the College really believes by organizing a whole series of events—complete with speakers and panel discussions—in keeping with the “BDS” theme:
Students United for Israel could call for a boycott of the PLO, Hezbollah, Hamas, and other groups that seek to destroy Israel; for the divestment of entities that financially support those racist—and often terrorist—groups; and for sanctions against those entities.
The Newman Catholic Club could call for a boycott of states that endorse same-sex “marriage” (including New York), for the divestment of groups that support same-sex “marriage,” and for sanctions against Catholics who stray from the Church’s teachings on this subject.
Chinese Christian Fellowship could call for a boycott of China due to its forced abortion policies and religious persecution, for the divestment of companies doing business in China, and for sanctions against China.
Brooklyn College Intercollegiate Studies Institute Group could call for states to boycott the Obamacare exchanges, for the divestment of groups that supported Obamacare (e.g., AARP), and for sanctions against Obama administration officials for implementing Obamacare.
The Coptic Christian Club could call for a boycott of the Muslim Brotherhood due to its persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt, for the divestment of companies that do business in Egypt, and for sanctions against that country.
Intervarsity Christian Fellowship could call for a boycott of Planned Parenthood because it provides abortions, for the divestment of all businesses that support Planned Parenthood (e.g., Susan G. Komen for the Cure), and for sanctions against Planned Parenthood because of its taxpayer fraud.
Once these groups have organized their own BDS events and invited the speakers, they should ask the political science department—or even the President’s Office—to serve as co-sponsors. Perhaps it could even be the College’s theme for the semester.
The responses to such invitations would be telling. If the President and the political science faculty were to decline for one lame excuse or another or if they were to insist on a more “balanced” presentation, students could simply say, in the monotone the National Weather Service patented: “This is a test. This is a test of academic freedom at Brooklyn College.” Then they could call a group that really believes in academic freedom—the Alliance Defending Freedom.
In my last blog post, I proposed conceptualizing our educational institutions in terms of worship, i.e. through a “worship paradigm.” I suggested that doing so could help us better understand the value of Christian practices in the educational context and the need to protect these practices in the educational context. In this post, I want to shine the light of this “worship paradigm” onto a concrete legal example: Bronx Household of Faith v. Board of Education of the City of New York.
Bronx involves a New York City Board of Education rule that initially prohibited “religious services or religious instruction on school premises after school” but allowed the discussion of “religious material or material which contains a religious viewpoint.” Thus, the Board was trying to distinguish religious worship services (prohibited) from discussion of religious ideas (permitted). When a church challenged this rule, the Second Circuit accepted the worship service/discussion distinction and upheld the Board’s policy under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. Thankfully, Alliance Defending Freedom persevered on behalf of the church and later obtained an injunction against the Board’s rule, this time under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. The validity of this injunction is currently pending before the Second Circuit, with oral arguments held on November 16, 2012.
Now, setting aside the case’s present status, what are we to make of this worship service/discussion distinction advanced by the Board? What does our “worship paradigm” tell us about this distinction? Well, our worship paradigm deconstructs this distinction as both biased and incoherent. If humans are inherently worshiping creatures and if our educational institutions necessarily engage in worship practices (liturgies), then the Board is prohibiting churches from worshiping while it (and other groups using the schools) promote their own “worship” and engage in their own “liturgies!” To make matters worse, if humans inherently engage in worship, it makes no sense to distinguish “worship services” from “neutral,” non-worship activities. We’re always worshiping in a sense. We’re always engaged in a liturgy of sorts. The only question is how we’re worshiping, what we’re worshiping, and what kind of worship services we’re engaged in. Thus, by distinguishing “discussion” from “worship services,” the Second Circuit merely favored some kinds of worship over others and some kinds of liturgies over others. And this result obviously harms New York City churches enormously because they are the ones conducting the disfavored type of worship service — at least the type disfavored by the New York City Board of Education.
In this respect, our proposed “worship paradigm” highlights the importance of the Bronx case and reveals conceptual flaws underlying the effort to exclude New York City churches from school buildings after hours. With the Bronx decision liable to come any day now, it will be interesting to see whether the Second Circuit continues to perpetuate the worship service/discussion distinction. For those with eyes to see and ears to hear (i.e. those who adopt our proposed worship paradigm), the continued perpetuation of this false distinction strikes right at the heart of our religious freedoms.
 This rule was later revised to prohibit use of school buildings “for the purpose of holding religious worship services, or otherwise using a school as a house of worship.” The Second Circuit has upheld both the original and revised versions of the rule under the Free Speech Clause.
 Of course, this distinction is no help to the vast number of churches that want to meet and “worship” in school buildings after hours. Indeed, in a population dense, high rent area like New York City, schools are probably the only realistic options for these churches.
It was inevitable that Americans would accept legalized abortion imposed by the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. That’s what I constantly heard during my three years at the University of Minnesota Law School in the late 1970′s. The few pro-life law students and I felt great apprehension to raise our hands in class and express even a hint of doubt about the constitutional reasoning of Roe v. Wade, or question whether the decision was morally good. Abortion supporters stood vigilant and pounced on any ”anti-women” dissent challenging the supposedly great and enlightened advance wrought by Roe v. Wade. We were told that pro-lifers were on the wrong side of history. Public acceptance of abortion was inevitable, inexorable, we heard at law school in the 1970′s, as they say today about redefining marriage. Give up. Resistance is futile. Opposition to abortion, they confidently predicted back then, would soon die out because, it is obvious that young people, and everyone else, would grow increasingly pro-abortion.
Except, that’s not what has happened. They have been woefully (Roefully?) wrong. The pro-abortion culture today is crumbling and teetering, not solidifying. Tens of thousands march for life each January in Washington D.C. Polls show young people, raised from day one under the reign of Roe v. Wade, are increasingly pro-life on abortion. Students for Life of America has over 2000 college students coming to its annual conventions, and they turn away young people each year because they need a bigger place to meet. Prolife initiatives at state legislatures have the momentum as they introduce new laws restricting abortion. Business owners are willing to go to court to protect their rights not to fund abortions under Obamacare. Those who support abortion now defend it, no longer as a moral triumph advancing women and human progress generally as they did in the 1970′s, but as a necessary evil.
So how did that change happen? From the beginning, persistent pro-life Catholics spoke against the moral evil of abortion, even in the face of opposition and politicians defecting to the abortion side. These early pro-life leaders convinced evangelical leaders like Francis Schaeffer, Dr. C. Everett Koop, James Dobson and others to teach Protestants about the truth about abortion. In the 1980′s and 90′s, the ultra sound machines allowed us to see the unborn children in the wombs, and no one could honestly deny their humanity. And other leaders with a broad vision, like Pope John Paul II, worked to build a culture of life, changing peoples’ attitudes about abortion. And that change is happening.
I see it when I visit law school campuses to speak. I am free to say, “Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and its shoddy reasoning is embarrassing,’ with hardly anyone speaking against me. Law students today can now openly question the morality of abortion without being shouted down as a bigot. I could not have done that in a law school 30 years ago. The courageous advocacy by the early pro-lifers has paid off, and people are changing their minds on abortion. And when culture changes, altering the law is not too far behind. So, do not lose heart. Like running water flowing over stones in a stream bed, perseverance for moral truth triumphs over “inevitable” destructive moral wrongs.
Watch the 2013 SFLA National Pro-life Conference LIVE online on Saturday, 1/26/2013 at www.SFLAlive.org
The 2013 Students for Life of America National Conference is a one-day event that provides education, training, and opportunities to network with fellow students and national pro-life leaders who know how vital campuses are to the pro-life movement.
- You can watch the annual Students for Life conference here starting tomorrow at 9:30am EST
- 11 Reasons why we know abortion is killing children.
- Planned Parenthood tries to remove the language of “choice” to obscure their pro-abortion positions.
- A secular group forms to help women with post-abortion trauma.
- Gendercide spreads to the UK.
- The United Methodist Church turns a blind eye to the truth of abortion.
- What is the lasting legacy of Roe? Maybe it’s less about abortion and more about the legal system.
Finally, while this video was made shortly after President Obama’s first inauguration, it is still relevant today.