A Confession of Liberal Intolerance


#1

A Confession of Liberal Intolerance is an article by Nicholas Kristof from the Sunday New York Times. He explores the curious fact that liberal universities preach tolerance for all people–Muslims, gays, Jews, women, everyone! Except of course, conservative Christians. (Our founder Francis Collins is mentioned as an example of a smart Evangelical.)

You might have to register to read the article, but it’s free. And you then can read a set number of articles per month


(Christy Hemphill) #2

Interesting article. I notice that the author in all but a couple sentences seems to conflate Evangelical and political conservative. That is an unfortunate complication in the whole discussion.

I read somewhere that the culture is more polarized on liberal/conservative lines now than any other dimension. Mixed marriages of Republicans and Democrats are far less common than mixed religious, socio-economic, or inter-racial marriages.

I wonder if Evangelicals who are politically progressive face the same discrimination, or if it is the pairing of political ideology and religion that is the key? Political ideology has more of an impact on social sciences than hard sciences. Even at Wheaton, the sociology, political science, and global development departments were predominantly staffed with politically liberal people, even though they were all Evangelicals.

I think the political polarization affects efforts of politically neutral Evangelical organizations like BioLogos, because on some issues (global warming for example, or ‘teaching the controversy’ in public schools) it is seen by some as aligned with liberals. (Who, in some people’s minds, are by definition not Evangelicals.) My NGO has caught flak from certain Evangelical constituencies for partnering with UNESCO (those liberal pagans). But the question remains why intolerance and bigotry is allowed based on political affiliation.


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #3

An aside here, but… really? Flak for partnering with UNESCO? I hadn’t heard that one yet.

Some people really need to find something better to do with their lives than nitpick to death all the good work other people are doing.


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #4

One line in this piece particularly grieved me:

Some liberals think that right-wingers self-select away from academic paths in part because they are money-grubbers who prefer more lucrative professions.

This line betrays an almost unfathomable level of being out of touch with the actual Evangelical milieu.

As an Evangelical, I self-selected toward an academic path because from an early age I learned that it was the most natural thing in the world for a Christian to be fascinated by all things intellectual because, after all, God created the Fibonacci sequence and fractals (my dad was kind of a math nut) along with everything I saw in the National Geographic and Scientific American magazines my dad kept lying around the house. Pursuing science was seen as a quintessential expression of my Christian faith. And I never came across this toxic brew of anti-intellectualism you see in some churches until well after my most formative years.

No, I suspect conservative Evangelicals self-select away from academic paths largely because many of them are taught to be vaguely suspicious of all things academic and scientific because they’ve been told those ideas aren’t safe, and they’ve never really met anyone who has managed to go that route and maintain a vibrant faith.

And that, my friends, is why BioLogos is so darned important.


(Christy Hemphill) #5

UNESCO is ushering in the one world government and is a clear sign of the coming apocalypse. And if that isn’t a big enough black mark, it is run by liberals and feminists and communist sympathizers.


(Dennis Venema) #6

Absolutely. How many young Christians, who had the desire and ability to be the next Francis Collins, Jennifer Wiseman, etc didn’t go into science because it was “atheistic”?


(Mervin Bitikofer) #7

I knew it! I JUST KNEW IT! …would comment more, but I gotta go get on Facebook and quick spread the word … :open_mouth:

[Poe’s law in full effect here]


#8

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(Christy Hemphill) #9

Have you actually read the book?


(Mervin Bitikofer) #10

I suppose if one wanted to establish (or dis-establish as it were) the ‘bigotry credentials’ of one side or another, one could perform this simple thought experiment.

Compare and contrast which of these two parties (if either) is more likely to be denied any advancement or security within these respective organizations: a long-time respected member of a congregation who still wants to teach or be considered for leadership, but he’s just come out of the closet as gay. Or a long-time respected teacher in an English department at a public university who is seeking tenure. But he’s just come out of the closet as an evangelical (I guess we could throw ‘republican’ in there too, which on Christy’s observation might hurt him even more than the religious affiliation).

The answer of course depends on which church and which university. Some churches trip all over themselves accommodating to nearly anything on the sexual front just to maintain their progressive bonafides. I doubt we see anything of this sort of equivalent in any public university English departments anywhere (tripping over themselves to try to get even just a token republican voice represented). So on that front, maybe liberal arts departments still have more entrenched bigotry than churches. But there are still plenty of churches that could give English or social science departments a run for their money on this. And (on both sides, and to be fair to both sides) it would probably also depend on how the person carries their “stigma”. Does the person wear it loudly and proudly, promising that they will use their position to first and foremost promote their pet issue, taking hostage the whole focus of the organization? Or do they care about the organization and its already established goals enough to (at least while on the job) let their pet issue take a back seat? How they negotiate that might determine more than anything what kind of reaction they get in any of these settings.


(Andy) #11

What book?


(Christy Hemphill) #12

Whatever book Eddie is alluding to as arguing that parts of the Bible contain evil moral teachings. I have a few good guesses which professors he’s referring to, and I was just wondering if he held himself to the same high standard of careful reading and attention to nuance and not reading between any lines, but taking everything at face value, the standard that he typically holds out for anyone who makes any evaluative statement about his favorite ID authors. Basically, I’m just being a stinker and giving Eddie a hard time. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


(Andy) #13

Fair enough


#14

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#15

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(George Brooks) #16

@Christy

Are we really going to keep saying “the book”, “the book”, “the book” - - with all sorts of charges and counter-charges … without the book being named?


(Christy Hemphill) #17

I was going to drop the subject, my communicative intent accomplished.


(George Brooks) #18

So… the book will go un-named?


(Amy Chai) #19

I think that you are right about the “political conservative” aspect of Evangelical Christianity is the primary focus of intolerance at the university. It is not even safe to express conservative ideas among Christians at my university. I basically don’t say anything political.

But worse than that IMHO is the engagement of Christians in what I call “Christian-shaming” of their brothers and sisters. I have been very disturbed by the self-righteous among us who engage in finger-wagging condescension towards “those other Christians” who are clearly “ignorant, bigoted, fundamentalists.” And then they go on to judge their fellow believers and distance themselves from them. The “Accuser of the Brethren” could not do a better job of creating straw men to knock over with rhetorical flourish. I see this every day.

The political left has been very successful in their effort to portray every policy position that does not fit the neo-Marxist narrative as, “hate” or “bigotry.” Nobody wants to be a hater. And it is easier to point your finger at someone else than it is to think about the truth of the matter or to attempt rational discourse. Especially in this lynch-mob, microaggression triggered milieu of the university.

I came from deep poverty in the midwest. I identify as a fundamentalist and a conservative. I am personally related to many fundamentalist conservatives, none of whom are filled with hatred, bigotry, or ignorance. In fact, they would give you the shirt off their back if you needed it, no matter who you are. But they are still going to vote for fewer social programs and they are going to vote for traditional marriage and pro-life. I was taught, “It is better to die than to take government assistance,” and my parents actually meant that quite literally, as we did not have things like refrigerators or indoor plumbing or food at many times of our lives. These are the people who are being demonized for their beliefs. There are actually philosophical and practical reasons for these “political” beliefs that have nothing to do with drooling hatred.

Don’t sneer at people for being suspicious of UNESCO. My NGO has had to refuse all USAID and sever any UN ties because the UN really does promote cultural imperialism on African people. Even our State Department withdrew USAID from certain African nations because they did not endorse gay marriage for their constitution. This was somewhat hypocritical, because the aid was not withdrawn from any predominantly Muslim country. The UN stance on reproduction, the family, and religious freedoms are firmly at odds with the NGO that I work with. It isn’t just paranoia. Anyway, I mentioned that because you seemed to ridicule people who did not like UNESCO, without considering that there might be valid reasons for that dislike other than being a conspiracy theorist. And globalism versus nationalism is a very real debate, even if you do not believe (as I do) Biblical eschatology.


(Christy Hemphill) #20

To clarify, what I think is ridiculous is the tendency some people have to punitively assign guilt by association. Just because a group shares a common goal in one area with another group, or groups share resources and expertise to address a common problem, does not constitute tacit approval of everything the other group does or stands for. We need more cooperation in the world not less. I see the same thing happening when an author favorably quotes another author on one topic, and some people are all over their case because not every thing the quoted author has ever written can be endorsed. Good ideas should be entertained, no matter who comes up with them first. This kind of tribalism happens on both sides of the political spectrum, and was the subject of the linked article.