Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Conservatives and Christians taking campus discrimination / censorship cases to court

And they are winning – as The College Fix reports.

Excerpt:

They’ve been ordered not to hand out copies of the U.S. Constitution. They’ve been denied promotions because of their faith. They’ve been forced to help pay for abortion-inducing birth control. They’ve been judged solely by the color of their skin.

And they’re fighting back. And they’re winning.

Conservative and Christian students and professors who have been denied free speech or faced discrimination and religious persecution because of their beliefs have recently enjoyed a string of courthouse victories in what’s amounting to something of a banner year for such causes.

There’s been at least six big legal wins in as many months.

Here’s one of the six that surprised me:

Last month, the high court gave the evangelical Wheaton College the injunction it wanted against the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, setting a national precedent on the matter.

Wheaton was among dozens of Christian and Catholic universities to file suit against the federal mandate, saying they should not be forced to pay for birth control if it violates their religious beliefs. Now the White House is writing new regulations to allow for such exemptions.

I was on a long drive Friday night, and was listening to the audio book version of Nancy Pearcey’s “Total Truth”. Both me and the woman I am mentoring are reading it. She was talking about Alan Sears and the pro-religious-liberty law firm “Alliance Defending Freedom”. ADF is one of the groups who defends the rights of students on campus.

I found a profile of Alan in this Breitbart article.

It says:

Alan Sears is a committed Christian attorney who served in the Reagan administration, including in the Justice Department, who became increasingly concerned about the ACLU and its leftist allies’ success at sterilizing American life of every reference to God, faith, and biblical values. After returning to the private sector, he was recruited by more than thirty Christian leaders to start an organization that would build a nationwide network to fight for religious freedom, the sanctity of life, the importance of marriage, and the rights of parents. The Alliance Defense Fund thus began in 1994.

Fifty years ago, references to faith were widespread in American life, where public prayers were common and official communications and presidential speeches would frequently cite the Bible or Christian belief, and such things were not controversial. Now the ACLU and far left has succeeded in giving us so many years of sterile secularism that it has become the new baseline. Many local school boards that once had to be sued by the ACLU to ban singing Christmas carols at a properly named Christmas Concert are now quite content to ban those carols on their own, and to order the concert renamed a Winter Concert.

Now the pendulum is swinging the other way. Instead of an ACLU lawyer suing that school on behalf of some militant atheist parent, now an ADF lawyer is suing the school for telling a Christian student that she cannot draw a picture of Jesus when she’s asked to draw someone who is important to her.

Headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, Sears has built an organization that is every bit an equal to the ACLU. Its staff of roughly 200 employees includes dozens of lawyers, who coordinate the efforts of over 2,200 “allied attorneys” nationwide, in almost every state of the Union and more than a dozen countries around the globe. To date, these lawyers have contributed an astounding $141 million in pro bono legal work (yes, that means free of charge) to people and organizations involved in legal fights on ADF’s issues. These attorneys become part of the Alliance upon completing ADF’s weeklong legal training conference. (Full disclosure: I have attended this training academy twice—once as a lawyer in their legal track and once as a journalist in their media informational track.)

ADF also makes grants to support lawyers and scholars for their work on behalf of those issues of faith, life, marriage, and families. And its Blackstone Legal Fellowship program takes over 100 promising law students every year and treats them to nine weeks of excellent food and accommodations over the summer in exchange for spending their days in lectures and seminars on natural law, government, philosophy, and learning key legal doctrines, followed by six weeks of “field work,” to equip them for lifelong service of ADF’s mission-related issues in whatever field they end up pursuing in their career.

Something to think about if you are a young person. It’s a tough thing to make it through secular law school with your faith intact, but if you can, the benefits to all of us can be huge. It’s a high-risk, high-reward option for talented young Christians and conservatives to pursue.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

In California, 95% of professor’s donations goes to Democrats

From The College Fix.

Excerpt:

With midterm elections looming, an analysis of professors’ recent campaign contributions to California lawmakers found that about 95 percent of their donations went to Democratic politicians.

Dozens of scholars have donated nearly $200,000 to a variety of Democratic representatives, while Republican politicians only netted about $9,000 from scholars, Federal Election Commission records show.

In effect, contributions by professors to Democrat lawmakers outweigh donations to Republican ones by 22 to 1, according to the The College Fix analysis.

The analysis used figures listed on the Federal Election Commission website from January 2013 through 2014 spring filings. Both Political Action Committee and individual campaign contributions were included in the data. Only donors with occupations listed as “professor” were included in the tally.

The survey looked at all 53 U.S. congressional representatives in California as well as its two U.S. Senators, 40 of whom are Democrat and 15 are Republican.

The California lawmaker who appears a favorite among professors is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Pelosi’s Victory Fund PAC garnered the largest dollar amount in donations from professors by far at $50,500.

When people go to university, so often they think, I’ll just study whatever I want. But I think given the bias of most professors, a better plan is to focus on studying something in the STEM fields, especially math, engineering and computer science, where you wouldn’t be as exposed to the bias of these professors. Even if the professors are biased, there is not much they can do to inject their bias into a STEM course. It’s something to think about – and STEM degrees pay better, too.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , ,

Ohio State University core class teaches that atheists are smarter than Christians

From Campus Reform. (H/T Nancy Pearcey tweet)

Excerpt:

Ohio State University (OSU) class has apparently determined another fundamental difference between Christians and atheists: their IQ points.

An online quiz from the school’s Psychology 1100 class, provided to Campus Reform via tip, asked students to pick which scenario they found most likely given that “Theo has an IQ of 100 and Aine has an IQ of 125.”

The correct answer? “Aine is an atheist, while Theo is a Christian.”

According to a student in the class who wished to remain anonymous, the question was a part of an online homework quiz. Students were required to complete a certain amount of quizzes throughout the course but were encouraged to finish all of them in order to prep for the final exam.

“I understand that colleges have a liberal spin on things so it didn’t surprise me to see the question, which is a sad thing,” the student told Campus Reform in a phone interview. “But how can you really measure which religion has a higher IQ?”

Psychology 1100 is a general education requirement class which can primarily be taught by an undergraduate teacher’s assistant.

[...]Dr. Mike Adams, an outspoken conservative Christian professor at the University of North Carolina, said “every group is protected from offensive speech on campus except for conservative Christians.”

The university is a challenging problem for Christians who want to make a difference. On the one hand, it’s definitely a center of influence where many young people come to learn how the world works. On the other hand, if you are a conservative Christian, you will be attacked there. It would be nice if Christians could somehow influence the university, helping young people to find or keep their relationship with God in Christ. But I don’t think it’s a priority for most Christians. Ratio Christi does a good job, and I like to sponsor their events. We lose a lot of young people who are raised in Christian homes at the university.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

How to prepare your kids for the pressure to be “cool”

This is a post from Pastor Matt Rawlings’ blog.

Excerpt:

[...]When any eighteen year old walks on to a secular university (or even many so-called “Christian” ones) they immediately feel pressure.  When a “cool professor” emerges trashing everything the eighteen year old has been taught by his or her parents to hold dear, the pressure intensifies.  If the eighteen year old dares to speak up, the professor will often ridicule the poor kid like a seasoned stand-up comic dealing with a heckler.  The other eighteen year old kids raised in Christian homes will see (or hear about it) and will feel even more pressure to conform.

Here is his recommendation:

We need to continue to train our kids in apologetics but we also need to prepare them spiritually for the battle they will face on college campuses.  They need to know how to engage the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, etc.  They also need to be connected with a community that will have their back.  I would not advise anyone to attend a secular university without making sure there is a strong Christian campus presence.  For example, I live in the Buckeye state and many of the young people I know want to attend Ohio State University (excuse me, The Ohio State University).  I always remind them to check out strong nearby churches like Xenos and groups like Ratio Christi led by the fearless Eric Chabot.

Everybody wants to be liked and everyone has a desire to fit in.  The pressure to be accepted is even stronger when a person is younger.  We need to train our young people to be apologists but we also need to recognize basic human nature including our ability to justify our behavior such as ignoring their training in order to sit at the cool kids’ table.  We need to train and prayerfully prepare.  Let’s get to work.

Pastor Matt had a quote from an article by Paul Vitz in his post, and I found the article. It’s on Leadership University, which is the web site that got me through college with my faith intact.

Here’s a bit of it:

I am not going into this to bore you with parts of my life story, but to note that through reflection on my own experience it is now clear to me that my reasons for becoming and for remaining an atheist-skeptic from about age 18 to 38 were superficial, irrational, and largely without intellectual or moral integrity. Furthermore, I am convinced that my motives were, and still are, commonplace today among intellectuals, especially social scientists.

[...]An important influence on me in my youth was a significant social unease. I was somewhat embarrassed to be from the Midwest, for it seemed terribly dull, narrow, and provincial. There was certainly nothing romantic or impressive about being from Cincinnati, Ohio and from a vague mixed German-English-Swiss background. Terribly middle class. Further, besides escape from a dull, and according to me unworthy, socially embarrassing past, I wanted to take part in, in fact to be comfortable in, the new, exciting, even glamorous, secular world into which I was moving. I am sure that similar motives have strongly influenced the lives of countless upwardly mobile young people in the last two centuries. Consider Voltaire, who moved into the glittery, aristocratic, sophisticated world of Paris, and who always felt embarrassed about his provincial and nonaristocratic origin; or the Jewish ghettos that so many assimilating Jews have fled, or the latest young arrival in New York, embarrassed about his fundamentalist parents. This kind of socialization pressure has pushed many away from belief in God and all that this belief is associated with for them.

I remember a small seminar in graduate school where almost every member there at some time expressed this kind of embarrassment and response to the pressures of socialization into “modern life.” One student was trying to escape his Southern Baptist background, another a small town Mormon environment, a third was trying to get out of a very Jewish Brooklyn ghetto, and the fourth was me.

[...]Another major reason for my wanting to become an atheist was that I desired to be accepted by the powerful and influential scientists in the field of psychology. In particular, I wanted to be accepted by my professors in graduate school. As a graduate student I was thoroughly socialized by the specific “culture” of academic research psychology. My professors at Stanford, however much they might disagree on psychological theory, were, as far as I could tell, united in only two things-their intense personal career ambition and their rejection of religion. As the psalmist says, “. . . The man greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord. In the pride of his countenance the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God'” (Psalm 10:3-4).

In this environment, just as I had learned how to dress like a college student by putting on the right clothes, I also learned to “think” like a proper psychologist by putting on the right-that is, atheistic-ideas and attitudes.

I blogged about Paul Vitz before. If you have not seen his lecture on the Psychology of Atheism, you really should watch it.

Natasha Crain at Christian Mom Thoughts had some practical advice for dealing with this, and in a minute I’ll give you my advice, because this peer-pressure thing was never a problem for me.

Excerpt:

[...]I do believe there are things we can do to help lessen our kids’ concern about coolness:

  • Make sure they have Christian friends. No, not just the kids they interact with each Sunday at church. Please don’t assume your kids’ “church friends” are a primary influence just because they rub elbows each week (and don’t assume that church friends are truly Christian friends). Look at who they spend time with on their own. Meaningful peer relationships with other believers make a big difference.
  • Give them perspective. By and large, the most well-grounded Christian kids I’ve encountered have been heavily involved in service. When kids have built houses in Mexico, served their local homeless, or come to the aid of disaster victims, they are more likely to have a level-headed perspective on why the perceived “coolness” of their beliefs doesn’t matter. Faith becomes a living, breathing part of their identity.
  • Be a family that is comfortable living counter-culturally. In the book Revolutionary Parenting, George Barna analyzed years of research data to determine what common factors exist in the child-rearing efforts of parents whose children remained strong in their faith into their adult years (he calls these kids “spiritual champions”). One major finding was this: “Parents are more likely to raise spiritual champions if they accept the fact that from day one their parenting efforts will stray from the norm and will put them at odds with parents who are pursuing a more conventional approach.” When kids are raised in a home where they become comfortable living differently than the world around them, they are prepared to carry that confidence into adulthood.
  • Give them Christian heros and role models. Our kids need to know that the world is filled with amazing people who love the Lord: athletes, scientists, missionaries, actors, writers, government leaders, business owners…the list goes on. Wherever your child’s interests lie, introduce them to Christian role models in that area and the stories of how they’re making a difference for God’s kingdom.

Now my turn. Peer-pressure wasn’t a problem for me growing up. We were poor, so we had much more immediate problems! But I had an answer to the problem of being different from the other kids – I was going to grow up faster than they did and be more mature by out-earning them. I always tried to be working at least one job, and I worked summers too – kept it up through high school and my undergraduate degree. That was my plan. So that’s my recommendation to young people. Get yourself the best job you can get as young as you can. Never let a summer go by when you are not working to earn money.

I also recommend listening to this Veritas Forum lecture called “Giants in the Land“, by the famous professor of mechanical engineering, Dr. Walter Bradley. My favorite lecture of all time. When you are young and it occurs to you that you are not like other people, it’s a wonderful thing to have the words of Dr. Bradley in your mind. Here is my favorite part- he says: “Sometimes we protect our reputation too hard. And what we really need is to get our reputation absolutely destroyed so we don’t worry about it any more… On the other side of a very ruined reputation is real freedom… to do what God wants you to do… It’s the ripping the reputation off that’s a little hard, right? But once it’s gone, it’s gone.  And then you have real freedom.”

I value my freedom and I know that caring what people think of me takes my freedom away! I really recommend that young people read or watch the French “Cyrano de Bergerac” (1990) (or the older black-and-white version) to learn the value of being who you are. If you are being good, you don’t have to care what people think of you – although you may need an alias now, since people on the secular left have gotten so intolerant. You can be yourself and be a hero. And that’s something. That’s a lot!

Filed under: Mentoring, , , , ,

Survey finds conservative and religious students feel discriminated against

From Campus Reform.

Excerpt:

Students with different political ideologies and religious beliefs feel the most discriminated on campus, according to a survey conducted by the University of Colorado.

The study, taken by students, faculty and staff, was designed to measure if students were feeling unsafe or discriminated against while attending the university.

The social climate survey—conducted on all four of UC’s campuses—asked participants to share their key demographics, such as religion, sexual orientation, gender expression, race, political party and political philosophy. They were then asked if they ever felt discriminated against or unsafe because of those identities.

The results revealed that 68 percent of students felt their campus was an overall inclusive and respectful environment. However, there were still students who reported that they felt discriminated against, and were intimidated when it came to voicing their opinions in class.

Of those who hesitated to voice their opinions, 23 percent said it was due to their political philosophy while 22.1 percent referenced their religious or spiritual beliefs. Political affiliation, such as political parties, was the third highest group who feared speaking with 19.1 percent.

[...]Faculty at UC were not politically diverse according to the findings of the survey. Nearly 59 percent of total faculty described themselves as liberal while only 12.9 percent said they were conservative. At the Boulder campus, fewer than six percent of the faculty are Republicans.

This is what liberals call “celebrating diversity”. They are all about creating an “open environment” that fosters “critical thinking”. If you’re going to college, stick with STEM subjects. Don’t put your face in the toilet of non-STEM programs.

Filed under: News, , , ,

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