Academic Oppression of Christians: Fact vs. Fiction

As I reviewed of the movie God’s Not Dead (GND), one of my biggest gripes was the lack of realism in the plot, particularly the way the conflict between the fictional Professor Radisson and freshman Josh Wheaton materialized. It began with Radisson, a philosophy professor, taking the first day of an introductory philosophy class and bullying the naive students into signing a “God is Dead” statement. Josh Wheaton, of course, refuses to sign the statement and takes up Radisson’s challenge to make the case that “God’s not dead”.

What bothered me about that is that such a scenario is almost unheard of in academia. Very few, if any, philosophy professors–not even the most ardent Atheists–are going to be so brazen. Philosophy professors–yes, even the Atheist ones–are more likely to welcome a spirited discussion while playing the role of Devil’s Advocate.

That is not to say, however, that there is no oppression of Christians in the academic world. It is there, and it is fairly widespread. Having said that, unlike the scenario in GND, the anti-Christian element is far more passive-aggressive, and that is because academia is inherently stacked with passive-aggressive people.

In reality, here is how it works in the classroom.

(1) For one thing, in the classroom, the anti-Christian sentiments are subtle. If you are in a philosophy class, an Atheist professor is likely to take an occasional dig at the Bible while calling favorable attention to the New Atheists (Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, Harris). He may otherwise be fair in grading you if you are a Christian, but his underlying message with be quite simple: Atheism is for smarter people; Christianity is a crutch for lesser-intelligent people.

(2) In science classes, evolution–particularly macro-evolution–is presented as “settled science”. The professor may not be particularly contentious against Christians, but will present things in matter-of-fact fashion. In my biology class, the professor–an affable secularist–was very fair; having said that, my biology textbook was little more than an aggressive marketing pitch for macro-evolution.

The underlying message: you can be a Christian, or you can be pro-science.

(3) In humanities classes, a secular/Atheist professor is likely to feed you a steady diet of Agnostic/Atheist writers, or even writers having an Eastern Religious bent. The professors are not going to be overtly anti-Christian–like the philoshophy professors, they may even treat you fairly–but will be positive toward viewpoints that are at odds with Christianity. In these classes, the skeptical position is not going to be in-your-face, but in fact will have a rational and seductive appeal.

Outside the classroom, things get dicier, and the bias ranges from passive-aggressive to open hatred.

(1) If you are applying to an Ivy League school, you may have a hard time being accepted if you are an outspoken conservative Christian.

(2) If you are an aspiring professor in a field other than engineering, you probably need to keep your Christian faith under your hat. If there is anything in your pedigree that remotely appears conservative, that can work against you. Dr. Mike S. Adams–an Associate Professor of Criminology at University of North Carolina at Wilmington–was on the academic fast-track in his early days as an atheist academic. Then he became a Christian, after which he was denied a promotion to full professor in spite of the fact that his academic production exceeded that of contemporaries who HAD been promoted. He sued the university and, after a long fight, a jury ruled unanimously in his favor.

(3) If you are a Christian and seek to form a Christian organization–such as a pro-life group, a Christian fellowship club, etc.–you will be forced by administrators to abide by established “diversity” standards, which means you have to admit anyone for membership. Even if they’re Muslim, even if they’re Pagan, even if they’re gay, even if they’re avowed Satanists, even if they’re members of the pro-abortion group and work in the Planned Parenthood office.

(4) If you seek to have a conservative speaker on campus–such as Ann Coulter or Dr. Mike Adams–be prepared to face backlash from university administrators.

(5) If the university sponsors a play, a special guest, or featured group, it is often going to be a promotion that is hostile to Christians or ideas that Christians support.

(6) Hiding behind the “diversity” canard, universities will provide all sorts of funding for “women’s resource centers”, which are, more often than not, outfits that serve to promote abortion.

(7) Also falling in the “diversity” play, universities will fund and staff centers that promote gay rights and related matters.

What I’m getting at here is that the face of the anti-Christian agenda on campuses is not the overt, in-your-face jackassery of Professor Radisson but rather a long, protracted passive-aggressive onslaught that alternates between seductive appeal and gnawing and clawing at you for four years.

Meanwhile, Christians entering college are often woefully unprepared for this assault. This is because their parents, their pastors, and their youth ministers, have utterly dropped the ball on every relevant front.

The Education Bubble…Is She About to Go Pop?

At first glance, the cracks seem to be forming.

In the fall of 2012, published tuition and fees for in-state students at four-year U.S. public schools rose just 2.9 percent from a year earlier, the smallest increase in 33 years, the College Board reported. At private schools, published prices rose 3.8 percent, lower than the increases in recent years.

At the same time, the number of students enrolled in colleges and universities fell by nearly half a million after two decades of substantial growth, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Moody’s rating service has warned that enrollment declines threaten the finances of many colleges.

The academic world is in for quite the shakeup. The issue is not IF, it is WHEN.

If this latest report is any indicator, that shakeup is going to come down sooner rather than later.

Hugo Schwyzer Asked to Resign

Hugo Schwyzer–the male “Women’s Studies” professor known for sleeping with his students, then fashioning himself as a reformed bad boy who embraced feminism before recently imploding–has been asked to resign his professorship or face disciplinary action.

Schwyzer is now admitting that he returned to his philandering ways once again after one of his students–Meagan–posted a blog detailing their relationship. In turn, his employer–Pasadena City College–launched an investigation.

Schwyzer–who once admitted to taking sexual advantage of a woman who had been brutalized, then attempting to kill himself and her–has had quite the fall recently.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Academia, Government, and Malinvestment

In the real world, preschools and day care centers are plenteous. The market is one of near-perfect competition, where rates are competitive, competitors are always coming and going, and there isn’t a lot of quality variance: most preschools fundamentally suck, and the “better” ones are often lesser evils. Preschool workers–as a group–do not make a lot of money. If they pull above $10 per hour, it’s a bonanza.

And yet, there are colleges with entire education tracks–early childhood education–designed to prepare students for jobs with such economic limitations.

Making matters worse, we have a government that encourages this. Here’s a real-life example of how this has played out. Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Let’s say that our federal government has $1 million in grant money available for initiatives in “early childhood education”.

Let’s say we have a university: BSU. The initials “BS” can mean whatever the reader wishes.

BSU decides to compete for the grant, proposing the development of an early childhood education center–i.e. a state licensed “preschool”–that will be staffed with faculty, highly-experienced teachers, and students. This will allow students to gain work experience as they work toward teacher certification, and will allow for a high-quality competitor to traditional day care and preschool centers.

BSU receives the grant, and spends the $1 million to build the complex, hire the director, train staff, and ensure that the facilities comply with state licensing requirements. The workers are supposedly the best of the best: they have a minimum of 5 years of experience, and they are paid $12 per hour.

The center at BSU opens on April 1. Their rates average about $50 per week more than the average preschool in the area.

After a month of being open, the number of children enrolled: ZERO!

So let’s get this straight, folks: We, the taxpayers, have provided $1 million in funding to a college, so they can hire overpaid workers and staff, price their services out of the market, and encourage students to accrue a mountain of debt as they enter a profession that–after 5 years of experience–they will pull down $12 per hour if they get a really good break. Making matters worse, they have NO CHILDREN ENROLLED after being open for a month.

When you consider that this is what college education–with few exceptions (such as the STEM fields)–has devolved into, the reality becomes all the more sobering.

Sounding the Alarm about Academic Illusions

Sadly, in many fields–particularly the humanities–PhDs are a dime a dozen. And for every PhD out there–hoping for a tenure-track slot–there are scores of people languishing in ABD (All But Dissertation) hell. And while this is not just the humanities–it is also in the hard sciences as well–it is worth noting: much of the incentive for graduate studies beyond the Master’s degree level is dissipating fast.

Don’t take my word for it: Rebecca Schuman, writing a piece for Slate, echoes this from a first-person perspective.

The Great PhD Scam

Nothing against those who are seeking PhDs–they are usually very hardworking folks who embarked on that venture in search of a career path that they thought would be awaiting them upon receipt of that terminal degree.

The problem is the system that awards them, and–I would add–the Academic-Governmental Complex that has fed that beast through widespread malinvestment. At any rate, Nature is picking up on the problem.

According to the multipart series in the journal Nature, the world is awash in Ph.D.s, most of them being awarded after years of study and tens of thousands of dollars to scholars who will never find work in academia, the traditional goal for Doctors of Philosophy.

“In some countries, including the United States and Japan, people who have trained at great length and expense to be researchers confront a dwindling number of academic jobs and an industrial sector unable to take up the slack,” the cover article says.

Of people who received Ph.D.s in the biological sciences five to six years ago, only 13% have tenure-track positions leading to a professorship, says Paula Stephan, who studies the economics of science at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

All together, 10% are working part time or out of the labor force entirely, 33% are in academic positions that don’t lead to a professorship positions, 22% are in industry and 20% are at community colleges or working in government or non-profit jobs, she says.

That 33% of Ph.D.s in non tenure-track positions is especially troubling, she says. It used to be that “post-docs,” post doctoral research positions in a professor’s lab, were a steppingstone to one’s own lab and professorship. But now one-third of Ph.D.s are permanently stuck “basically working as research assistants.” They have no job security and salaries start at $39,000 a year. “That’s appalling: You could get that with a bachelor of science degree,” Stephan says.

It’s not necessarily the education that needs to change, but how the endpoint is presented, says Maresi Nerad, director of the Center for Innovation and Research in Graduate Education at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Even the way anything but being a professor is termed is a problem, she says. People refer to “alternative careers,” which just screams “It’s not the real thing, the real thing is becoming a professor,’ ” she says. The presumption is that if they don’t become a professor, “something isn’t right with them.” But that track hasn’t really existed for the majority for a long time.

In fact, her studies have found that about half of the science Ph.D.s end up working outside of academia in industry, government or at not-for-profits, and they’re very happy and actually make more money and have more autonomy.

The glut tracks back to predictions in the 1980s that an impending wave of professor retirements and rising college enrollment would require a hoard of new Ph.D.s. This didn’t prove to be true, but Ph.D.-track students flooded universities and then couldn’t find jobs.

Womyn of the World Unite

Peter Wood is committing heresy! HERESY I say!

Seriously, he is trodding dangerous ground by pointing out what should be obvious to anyone with a semblance of knowledge of history.

Personally, I will drink Guinness…Foreign Extra Stout…to the demise of academia. We should allow student loan debts to be dischargeable in bankruptcies, if only to exacerbate the demise of all that is useless in the academy.

This would be good for everyone: academia would reform and once again become relevant; the dead weight would be gone; and those aspiring to the academy would get a real education, complete with a real economic tradeoff.

Also gone would be the utter nonsense that passes for scholarship,