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2/28 Friday Link Roundup

Posted on March 1st, 2013 Culture | No Comments »

Why marriage matters for America and conservatism

Virginia bans “all-comers” policies

Don’t feel qualified for your calling? Neither did Moses.

Rick Warren on how religious freedom ensures other freedoms.

Feminism, Work-life balance, and Yahoo!

Reverse Affirmative Action — Liberal college seeks conservative scholar.


Worship Amidst the Athenians, Part III

Like my two earlier posts (here and here), this post will continue to build the case that we should re-conceptualize our educational institutions in terms of worship. But this post will extend the argument by answering the following question: is there a biblical justification for prioritizing the concept of worship and re-evaluating our institutions in terms of worship? The answer is an overwhelming yes.

A good guide to help us reach this answer is Greg Beale’s illuminating book We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry. In it, Beale argues that, what we revere we resemble, either for ruin or for restoration. Although Beale draws on numerous parts of scripture to substantiate this thesis, he primarily emphasizes Isaiah 6:9-10, and its inter-textual echo of Psalm 115:2-6. By telling Israel that it has “dull eyes” and “dim ears” in Isaiah 6, God is obviously judging Israel, but God is doing so by comparing Israel to the actual, physical idols  that really do not have physical hears or physical eyes, as described in Psalm 115. But why this comparison? Because God is judging Israel for its idolatry (a problem emphasized in Isaiah chapters 1-5, see, e.g., Isaiah 2:8). And so how does God judge Israel for idolatry? By turning Israel into the idols that they worship. Just like its idols that have no physical eyes to hear and no physical ears to see, Israel (says God in Isaiah 6) will no longer have spiritual eyes or spiritual ears to perceive God’s word![1] From examples like this, Beale biblically supports the principle that God turns us into what we revere, i.e. what we worship.[2]

Now, if this principle is true, the practical import of worship becomes much more apparent since worship determines what we become. For this reason, we desperately need to unearth the hidden forms of our worship to make sure we aren’t being transformed into idols. For example, on a micro-level, must I not now ask what am I worshiping and how is my current behavior merely reflecting the worship some idol? How am I being transformed subtly into the iPhone I spend all day on or the vacation I yearn for? And on the marco-level, must we not now ask what particular thing(s) is our society revering and how is our society revering these things? In what way(s) is our present culture the reflection of some idol it has worshiped or continues to worship?

But in asking these questions, what are really doing? We are merely perceiving ourselves and our institutions in terms of worship. We are recognizing that worship goes on all around us, that worship determines our character, our values, and our goals, and that we therefore need to think in terms of worship and evaluate things in terms of worship. And could there be any more important place to start this analysis than our educational institutions? The very institutions explicitly committed to shaping citizens’ values and minds? And could our freedoms in these educational institutions serve any more important purpose than to allow for and even model worship of the one true God? This last point is no mere ancillary one. Rather, this point explains why we should expansively protect the freedom to worship in the educational context. It explains why, for example, we should protect the right of Christian student groups to set religious qualifications for their leaders, contrary to the Supreme Court’s ruling in CLS v. Martinez. But that is the subject of my next and final post in this series on worship in the educational context.

[1] This point also illuminates the meaning of Mark 4:10-12, Matthew 13:10-17, and Luke 8:9-10 where Jesus quotes Isaiah 6.

[2] On the positive side, when we worship Jesus, God transforms us into Jesus in a sense: God transforms us into the image of his Son. See 2 Corinthians 3:18.

Personal Liability for College Administrators Violating Student Rights

Recently, our friends at FIRE celebrated a huge victory (along with legal network attorneys Robert Corn-Revere and Cary Wiggins) in obtaining a jury verdict holding Valdosta State University President Ronald M. Zaccari personally liable for violating student Hayden Barnes’ constitutional rights and awarding him $50,000 in damages.

The saga began back in 2007, when Barnes spoke out against Zaccari’s plans to build two new parking garages on campus at a cost of 30 million dollars, partially funded by student fees.  Barnes voiced his opinion and proposed what he viewed as more environmentally friendly alternatives by posting flyers, sending emails to Zaccari, student and faculty governing bodies, and the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, as well as writing a letter to the editor of the VSU student newspaper.  Barnes also wrote to Zaccari to ask for an exemption from the mandatory student fee designated for funding the construction.

Zaccari responded by expelling Barnes from school, without notice or opportunity to be heard, for supposedly being a “clear and present danger” to the school.  The jury found that Zaccari violated Barnes’ rights by doing this and held him personally responsible for it to the tune of $50,000 in damages, payable to Barnes.

While college administrators violating student rights is certainly nothing new, often administrators have been able to avoid personal responsibility for doing so.  But this case represents a warning:  College administrators should no longer assume they can violate student rights with impunity.  Not only can they be held liable in their official capacities as university administrators, they can also be held personally liable for damages.  As more and more legal precedent is built, administrators will have less and less of an excuse for violating clearly established student rights like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, due process, and equal protection under the law, and for retaliating against students for exercising those rights, like Hayden Barnes did.  Congratulations to FIRE for a significant victory for the rights of students everywhere!


ADF Legal Counsel - University Project

Student Fees Gone Wild

Posted on February 25th, 2013 Culture,Freedom of Speech | No Comments »

Last fall, I wrote about Non-Discrimination Gone Wild, a decision by Evergreen State College to allow a man to use the girls locker room.  Well it seems my law school alma mater, Washington University in St. Louis, wanted to one-up Evergreen, and hosted a “porn star” panel earlier this month.  The panel was part of the university’s “sex week,” a series of events designed to address “sexual health, sexuality, and societal views of sex.”  The event was hosted in the university chapel and paid for with mandatory student fees.

Wash U’s event follows similar week-long Dionysian festivals at the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois, and Yale.  Often these events are paid for with mandatory student fees.  In fact, CampusReform reports that at Wash U over $10,000 in student fees paid for “sex week.”  You would think that university administrators would question student decisions to spend their parents’ money or student loans on these events, but CampusReform quotes one university official as saying, “The administration is very supportive of any choice the students make when it comes to funding.”  Yet, I’m sure if the event had been “religion week,” the university would have refused to provide any student fee funding.

Most people think student fees pay things like services in the student union, the gym, and occasional funding of student groups conducting a service project.  But universities have turned these mandatory fees in campus slush funds for the left.  What results is student groups like “Sex Out Loud” at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that receive over $100,000 a year in student fee funding to hand out condoms and pamphlets from Planned Parenthood, but groups like Badger Catholic are denied funding to provide free student counseling from a religious perspective.

What can you do?  It’s unlikely mandatory student fees will go away anytime soon.  But the best answer to bad speech is good speech.  If you’re part of a student group on campus, apply to get student fees for your own events that promote decency and respect life.  (And if you need help, contact us.)  If you’re an alumnus of a college that hands out student fees to these types of events, tell your alumni office you’re not giving this year in protest.  Don’t let the left dominate the conversation.


ADF Senior Legal Counsel - University Project

Friday 2/22 Link Roundup

Posted on February 22nd, 2013 Culture | No Comments »

George Washington on religious liberty.

Texas Aggie Conservatives (our clients) hand in petition demanding college to even out its left leaning slant.

How to choose a college.

From radical lesbian to redeemed Christian — Rosaria Champagne Butterfield’s story.

College students lead 2nd graders to the trendy instead of the enduring in classroom discussion ofThe Giving Tree.

Andrew Cuomo’s radical abortion machine.


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

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