In my first post, I linked to a recent Daily column by Ray Martin that criticizes universities for discriminating against evangelical Christians.
The relationship between Christians and the university is an important subject, and I’m glad Ray started this conversation.
Unfortunately, his column begins on a dishonest premise. He mentions a student at Missouri State University who was accused of discriminating against gays after she refused to sign a letter in support of adoption by same-sex couples. But he leaves out what happened next:
The university quickly settled Brooker’s lawsuit by removing the discrimination charge from her record and paying for her to go to graduate school. The university president also called for an independent investigation by two outside scholars, the deans of social work at Indiana University and the University of Tennessee.
So instead of discriminating against a Christian, we see that in this case the system worked to protect her rights and make sure it did not happen again.
The second half of Ray’s article is similarly inflammatory and contains another major fact error. It is not true that “the majority of Americans at least claim to be evangelical Christians.” Ray does not say where he found that statistic, but two different studies show evangelicals to make up 26 to 29 percent of the population.
I admit this is a hard statistic to determine, because evangelical is one of the most abused words in the English language. Does it mean anyone who practices evangelism? Is it just another synonym for conservative Christian? What is the difference between an evangelical and a fundamentalist?
These are complicated questions, but one thing is clear. The world does not break down into a simple dichotomy of evangelicals versus “naturalists.” Many Christians believe in evolution, and many scientists are religious. Ray seems to confuse tolerance with forcing science classes to pander to his particular beliefs.
I don’t want to be unfair to Ray. Anti-Christian bigotry does exist, as shown by the first comment on his column. “Jason” writes, “That or maybe Evangelicals are stupid and professors aren’t dumb enough to miss that fact?”
Evangelicals are not more or less dumb than any other group. And as Jason demonstrates quite well, being a secular humanist does not automatically make you smart.
But while Christians, like anyone else, have the right for their beliefs to be tolerated, they do not have the right for those beliefs to go unchallenged. We come to college to be exposed to new ideas. It may be uncomfortable to face ideas you don’t agree with, but it is not oppression.