Mainstream thinking in the academy is that Christian morality has no place in education . . .
The world is certainly a different place than when I attended college in the late 1980s. I studied at two secular schools and proudly lived my faith, joining Catholic clubs and attending Mass as often as possible on campus.
I can vividly remember talking to the Protestant students at the Campus Crusade for Christ table during orientation before later joining Catholic Christian Outreach, a dynamic movement of Catholic university students.
I encountered little hostility from students or professors. However, hostility toward Christians on secular college campuses has grown rapidly. (Click here for a related story.) A 2008 study by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA shows that college students tend to shift to more liberal positions on issues like gay marriage, abortion and religion from the time they are freshmen through their junior year.
That shift — facilitated by both peers and professors — was evident this summer as a number of students and professors who tried to live their faith on campuses across the country were summarily shut down.
Case in point: Dr. Kenneth Howell, a devout Catholic teaching at the University of Illinois, was terminated for simply answering a student’s email on what the Church teaches about homosexuality.
Mainstream thinking in the academy is that traditional Judeo-Christian morality has no place in higher education. No debate. No discussion.
So what’s a Christian student to do when standing up for what you believe can get you expelled? You can always keep your faith to yourself. But Jesus says we’re not to keep our light under a bushel basket (Mt 5:15) and St. Paul tells us that we must fight to win (1 Cor 9:24-27).
We’re called to be a light to those who walk in darkness. Our example, our courage and the truth — even if it’s shut out of the debate — will eventually win out. But if we walk away and leave those who don’t know Christ to their own devices, their future (and their eternity) could be awfully grim.
In Dr. Howell’s case, he kept the faith. Within days, students and the community rallied to his defense demanding academic freedom and a little common sense. The result? He got his job back.
We shouldn’t be surprised. The UCLA study I mentioned notes that despite the secularization of our public colleges and universities, 79% of college freshmen believe in God, and 69% pray and find strength, support and guidance in their religious beliefs.
The truth is that the vast majority of Americans outside the major urban centers are not sold on the secular left’s agenda to wean America of its religious heritage. We should never be afraid to stand up for the truth. Besides, God is on our side.
Patrick Novecosky is Legatus Magazine’s editor.