That’s the title of an essay Wheaton College Professor Timothy Larsen published recently on Insider Higher Ed. In the essay, Professor Larsen recounts the story of a public university student who repeatedly encountered professors hostile to Christianity. For example, an English professor reduced the student’s grade because he quoted C.S. Lewis, reasoning that it was inappropriate to quote “a pastor.” (Of course, Lewis was not a pastor but was a professor – of English — at Cambridge.)
Larsen also recounted one of his own experiences. Yale University Press publishes a series called “Rethinking the Western Tradition” that reprints influential texts along with original essays. Larsen proposed a volume on T.S. Elliot’s The Idea of a Christian Society. The editorial committee rejected his proposal, despite acknowledging that the proposal was well-crafted and had identified excellent scholars (including an outspoken atheist) to write the essays. That they rejected the proposal is not the point; instead, the comments members of the editorial committee made to justify their rejection of the proposal illustrated their irrational antipathy towards all things Christian.
Larsen (correctly) observed that the hostility he and his student experienced appears to be widespread. Those of us at ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom — and our clients — can certainly concur. At the conclusion of his essay, Larsen asserted that “scholars ought to be concerned that Christians often report that the academy is a hostile environment.” He called for an effort to systematically examine this apparent problem and propose appropriate remedies. However, he conceded his pessimism about “the academy being willing even to investigate the possibility of discrimination against Christians, let alone attempt to eradicate it.”
A principal purpose of ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom is change the academic culture by confronting the sort of anti-Christian animus Professor Larsen describes in his essay. Such hostility is always wrong, and frequently illegal. We share Larsen’s pessimism that the academy will eradicate the problem on its own. If you experience such animus, let us know. We stand ready to help protect academic freedom and restore the civility and respect that is all too often missing from the academic environment.
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