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.