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Psychologists: “We’re Tolerant, Unless You’re Conservative”

Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reminded the nation that “[t]olerance is a two-way street.”  But a new study suggests that academics—particularly psychologists—have yet to get the message.  Not only do they overwhelmingly tilt towards the left end of the political spectrum, but they also admittedly discriminate against conservatives. 

In this study, two researchers from Tilburg University asked psychology faculty and graduate students to describe their own political beliefs.  In fact, they did so twice, and they asked participants to describe their views on economic, foreign policy, and social issues.  The results from both surveys resoundingly confirmed that psychology faculty tilt way left. 

The tilt is so pronounced that the researchers concluded conservatives are a “substantial minority” among psychologists because 30–40% are not liberal on economic or foreign policy issues.  Only in a world where over 90% describe themselves as leftists on social issues and 85% rate themselves as leftists overall could 70% leftist domination be considered “diverse.”

Of course, some might respond to this by saying, “So what.  This has no real impact on the day-to-day life of professors.”  But the research tells a different story.  In reality, conservative faculty members face a hostile environment on campus.  To quote the researchers:

The more conservative respondents were, the more they had personally experienced a hostile climate. . . .  The more liberal respondents were, the less they believed that conservatives faced a hostile climate. 

What accounts for this difference? 

This was driven entirely by more conservative respondents’ greater personal experience of a hostile climate. . . .  This suggests that the hostile climate reported by conservatives is invisible to those who do not experience it themselves. 

But what created this leftist imbalance and the hostility towards conservatives?  Could it be, as Dr. Haidt suspected in 2011, that the profession engages in rampant discrimination?  Or could it be, as some have suggested, that “liberals may be more interested in new ideas, more willing to work for peanuts, or just more intelligent, all of which may push them to pursue the academic life while deterring their conservative peers”?  Or could it be that “the field of social psychology self-selects for liberals and might even create them?”  The research points to discrimination.

The researchers asked participants “how likely they would be to discriminate against conservatives” when evaluating papers, grants, symposium invitations, and job applicants.  They also asked participants how likely their colleagues would be to discriminate against conservatives in the same areas.  The results were disturbing.  Almost 20% admitted they would at least be somewhat inclined to discriminate against conservatives when reviewing papers.  Almost 25% would discriminate in reviewing grants and almost 40% would when making hiring decisions.  And they consistently thought their colleagues were even more likely to discriminate.

As the researchers concluded:

Thus, willingness to discriminate is not limited to small decisions.  In fact, it is strongest when it comes to the most important decisions, such as grant proposals and hiring.  And the more liberal respondents were, the more willing they were to discriminate. 

Of course, the results of this study will not come as news to students who have experienced professors that inject their political views into class or to students who feel pressured agree with those views to get a good grade.  Nor will they surprise conservative professors like Dr. Mike Adams (who was denied a promotion because his colleagues vociferously disliked his conservative beliefs), Kenneth Howell (who was fired for teaching Catholic theology in a class about Catholic theology), June Sheldon (who was terminated for answering questions about homosexuality in a genetics class), and Theresa Wagner (who was not hired because of her pro-life views).  But they should come as a disappointment to those who think that we should—in the words of Thomas Jefferson—“follow the truth wherever it may lead.”  For as the researchers noted, “as offensive as it may seem to many social psychologists, believing that abortion is murder does not mean that one cannot do excellent research.”  And these results should also disturb the millions of Americans who think that universities should serve as a “marketplace of ideas,” where all perspectives are welcome and addressed on their merits. 



ADF Litigation Staff Counsel ADF Center for Academic Freedom

More Evidence of Anti-Conservative Educational Bias

Posted on June 11th, 2012 Thought Reform | 3 Comments »

It may come as a surprise to you that a big-time Hollywood producer is actually a self-described conservative. But it probably won’t surprise you that a public school is reported to have revoked an invitation for him to speak at the last minute because of those conservative credentials.

Gerald Molen co-produced Schindler’s List, and worked on other big productions like Jurassic Park and Twister. He was recently invited to speak at a Montana high school near his hometown, but just before the event, the principal told him he would be banned because he is a “right-wing conservative.” It had nothing to do with what he was going to say (which was a typical go-get-em, “believe it and achieve it” speech). The censorship was based entirely on what Mr. Molen believed.

This is just one more instance of the liberal bias that infects our public education system. As you might expect, it’s not limited to public high schools. While 62% of college and university professors identify themselves as liberal, the reality is many more are. 69% think homosexual behavior is “not wrong at all” and 75% think abortion should be legal “for any reason” See The Social and Political Views of American Professors, Neil Gross, Harvard University, Solon Simmons, George Mason University, September 24, 2007, which can be accessed here.

The days of encouraging students to be exposed to various ideas and then make their own conclusions based on personal values and mores are gone. And the reason is not because students have lost their rights. The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the rights of students at all levels of public education to freedom of speech and religion. But ultra-liberal administrators are simply refusing to allow them to even be exposed to anything that contradicts administrators’ politically correct agenda.

Students (and parents) – don’t stand idly by and watch the First Amendment be trampled by liberal ideologues that are skewing the debate so as to avoid any hindrance to the spread of their doctrine. Contact ADF, at, get educated about your rights, and then let us help you take a stand when they are violated.


Illegal discrimination against Christians on public university campuses is pervasive and must be confronted. The Constitution has something to say about this—and so should you. Speak Up

Do You Want To Go Into Debt For This? Dennis Prager Summarizes Four Years of a Typical “Progressive” College Education in 60 Seconds

Posted on March 2nd, 2012 Thought Reform | 2 Comments »

Dennis Prager urges college students and their parents to evaluate the value of going into debt for a college education in which students are bombarded for four years with withering criticism of every major value they hold. Prager does this by summarizing the major tenets taught at most public colleges and universities in the nation today.  Here are some of the those politically correct maxims:

God is at best a non-issue, and at worst, a foolish and dangerous belief.

Christianity is largely a history of inquisitions, crusades, oppression, and anti-intellectualism. Islam, on the other hand, is “a religion of peace.” Therefore, criticism of Christianity is enlightened, while criticism of Islam is Islamophobia.

Mothers and fathers are interchangeable. Claims that married mothers and fathers are the parental ideal and bring unique things to a child are heterosexist and homophobic.

 Universities need to be true marketplaces of ideas, and not ideological monopolies bent on purging ‘wrong thinking” from students and coercing them to accept “progressive thought.”  These are not the principles and values that made America great.  Read all of Prager’s insightful article here.

What are some of the anti-Christian messages you hear on campus?  Have you been punished because of your faith?  Comment below and let us know.


ADF Senior Vice President; Senior Counsel - University Project

ADF-allied attorney calls out Colorado professor for feeble “apology” to student

Posted on August 8th, 2011 Thought Reform | 9 Comments »

by ADF Senior Counsel Joseph Infranco

The stereotype of the arrogant, leftist professor in the ivory tower occasionally shows up in real life in a manner that shows that the truth is stranger than fiction.

Recent case in point:  a biology professor at a Colorado college (let’s call him Dr. Jones) hotly ridiculed a student (let’s call her Ms. Smith) in front of her entire class for her lack of belief in the theory of evolution.  In order to avoid legal trouble for his immense misstep, he agreed to settle the case in advance of litigation.  Part of the settlement required a written apology to the student.  Here is the letter of “apology” from the professor, followed by a response from Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney Barry Arrington that can only be said to…um…set the record completely straight:

June 1, 2011

Ms. Smith:

With regard to our conversation about your belief that evolution is not true, I apologize to you for appearing to denigrate your obviously strongly held beliefs.  I had not intended to offend you in any way regarding your faith or your world view.  That this was so perceived by you, I again offer my sincerest apology.

In making this apology to you, I am reminded of what happened to Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) – considered by many to be the father of modern science.  In 1610 Galileo determined through his telescope and various mathematical calculations, that the Earth moved around the sun, rather than the other way around which was, according to the Catholic Church “false and contrary to Scripture.”

In 1632, he was tried by the Inquisition, found “vehemently suspect of heresy”, forced to recant heliocentrism, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.  As he was led away to begin his confinement, he said (to no one in particular) “and yet it still moves”.


Dr. Jones

Response from ADF-allied attorney Barry Arrington:

July 27, 2011

Dear Dr. Jones:

I am writing in response to your June 1, 2011 letter to my client Ms. Smith, in which you apologized to her for “appearing” to denigrate her strongly held beliefs.  Sir, we both know you did not merely “appear” to denigrate Ms. Jones’s beliefs.  You specifically intended to use your position of authority as a platform from which to denigrate Ms. Smith’s beliefs and humiliate her in front of her peers, and you accomplished your purpose.  It saddens me that in your letter you decided to add mendacity to your boorish and abusive attack on your student.

You say you did not intend to offend Ms. Smith.  Rubbish.  I assume you are not an idiot, and only an idiot would not know that your words would demean and humiliate her, intimidate her into silence, and curb her natural desire for self expression in the face of the orthodoxy you represent.  Do you really expect anyone to believe that it was an unfortunate and unintended side effect of your actions that she would feel hurt by the experience or perceive it as an assault on her personal dignity?  Please do not insult our intelligence.

Finally, I cannot let your smug reference to Galileo go unchallenged.  Firstly, as a matter of simple fact, your history is all wrong.  Galileo never uttered the words you mistakenly placed in his mouth.  I provide for your edification a primer on the matter under my signature.

More importantly, however, your letter illustrates an utter failure to grasp the significance of this figure from history.  I will not spell it out for you.  Instead, I urge you to go back and think about this one a little more.  To assist you in that endeavor, please ask yourself and answer the following questions:  As between Ms. Smith and you:  (1) who is the pope (i.e., the authority figure with all of the power in the relationship)?  (2) Who speaks for an unyielding established orthodoxy?  (3) Who holds the minority dissenting view?  (4) Who was willing to challenge the entrenched orthodoxy at significant personal risk to herself?

“But Galileo was right and his opponents were wrong!” you might respond.  And that response would completely miss the point.  The adherents of every entrenched orthodoxy believe not only that they are right, but also that everyone who challenges the orthodoxy is at least wrong if not wicked.  Yet history is full of failed orthodoxies, collapsed paradigms, and discredited dogmas.

You are a high priest of the Church of Darwin.  How easily you slipped into the role of inquisitor.  You sniffed a hint of heresy from Ms. Smith, and you did not hesitate to put her on the verbal rack.  In your letter you point to Galileo as a hero of free thought and expression against an entrenched orthodoxy.  I hope you appreciate by now how richly ironic your appeal to Galileo is.


Barry K. Arrington

Primer on Galileo


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Illegal discrimination against Christians on public university campuses is pervasive and must be confronted. The Constitution has something to say about this—and so should you. Speak Up

“Most College Fairs Don’t Feature Drag Performers in Habits”

Posted on May 3rd, 2011 Culture,Thought Reform | 1 Comment »

That’s the first sentence of a remarkable article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  The article describes many colleges’ efforts to encourage homosexual students to apply and attend.  These colleges tout their LGBT centers, their “pride months,” their homosexual alumni, their gender-studies classes, their “drag balls,” their “queer spaces,” and the general “gay-friendliness” of their campuses.

That most colleges and universities have “taken sides” in the ongoing national debate over the morality of homosexual behavior is not news.  That said, I suppose I am not alone in being a little shocked by what this article reveals — an extraordinarily high degree of commitment and investment of resources.

What does all this mean for Christian and conservative students who dissent from the prevailing orthodoxy?  Whatever it means, it isn’t good.  It is difficult to imagine that a campus that invest significant resources in recruiting homosexual applicants will tolerate a religious student group that adheres to the traditional understanding of sexual morality.  ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom expects the threats to religious freedom to grow, and it stands ready to defend the rights of Christians.


ADF Senior Counsel - University Project

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