Advancing Religious Liberty
1/10/13 at 10:25 AM 2 Comments

Exposing Avenues of Campus Indoctrination

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Author: Alliance Defending Freedom Litigation Staff Counsel Travis C. Barham

Years ago, Abigail Thernstrom described universities as “islands of repression in a sea of freedom.” More recently, several columnists have highlighted how the effort to indoctrinate students pervades virtually every aspect of campus life.

Last month, George Will’s Washington Post column outlined how campus speech codes actually train students to support censorship. In so doing, universities stifle the robust debate and exchange of ideas they claim to support. And because these speech codes affect every aspect of student life—from the classroom to the dorm room—they are a particularly pernicious method for suppressing unpopular ideas.

Just today, Thomas Sowell’s column, The Role of ‘Educators,’ highlights how this indoctrination occurs in the classroom. After all, far too many professors see them­selves as “agent[s] of change” who are “strategically placed, with an opportunity to condition students to want a different kind of society.” Of course, some openly ad­mit this. For example, Richard Rorty—a long-time philosophy professor—explained that he “like most Americans who teach humanities or social science in colleges and universities . . . try to arrange things so that students who enter as bigoted, homo­phobic religious fundamentalists will leave college with views more like our own.” He even warned parents that he and his colleagues “are going to go right on trying to discredit you in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist re­ligious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than dis­cussable.” As Sowell notes, having discarded the job of teaching people how to think, these professors seek to undermine the values that made America great.

Last week, Jeremy Tedesco’s column at trumpeted Julea Ward’s victory against indoctrination efforts cloaked as practicum assignments. After she took an unpopular stand for years, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed her conviction that she should not be forced to endorse behavior she considered immoral by ruling that public universities “cannot compel students to alter or violate their beliefs . . . as the price for obtaining a degree.” This is a tremendous victory for religious freedom, one that will benefit students far beyond just Eastern Michigan University.

Last month, Mike Adams critiqued the Supreme Court’s unfortunate ruling in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, which extends indoctrination efforts into the extracurricular arena. In Cleaning Up After Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Mike highlights some of the flaws of the decision, but he also describes how his university has stretched Martinez to violate the freedoms of religious and political student groups. In A Queer Need for Rejection, he explains how Martinez exposes some student groups—such as a Christian group that expects its leaders to live by Biblical principles—to harassment and the constant threat of discrimination charges.

Of course, if you have experienced any of these avenues of indoctrination, please contact us. Your rights may well have been violated, and you may be in a position to secure not only your own freedoms but—like Julea Ward—those of countless others as well.

This post originally appeared here.

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