Making wise college contributions

Marvin Olasky
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Posted: Jan 06, 2006 12:05 AM

The University of Kansas (KU) did some damage control last month when it announced cancellation of a class taught by an overt hater of Christians -- but let's not let it and other universities get away so easily.

Paul Mirecki, who chaired KU's Religious Studies department and later claimed he was beaten up for his beliefs by two men in a pickup truck, wrote that he wanted to teach the course to give "the fundies ... a nice slap in their big fat face." He also bashed Catholics, but a university spokeswoman said Mirecki's "offensive" and "ill-considered" comments did not represent the values of the university or its faculty.

Hmmm ... I suspect they do represent the views of many professors, and Mirecki suspects the same: He wrote to a discussion group last year, "The majority of my colleagues here in the dept are agnostics or atheists, or they just don't care. If any of them are theists, it hasn't been obvious to me in the 15 years I've been here."

Theism among professors throughout this land is rare, but agnosticism and atheism are common, and I know one reason why -- the academic blacklisting of any who show Christian belief outside of an hour on Sunday morning. (It's sadly amusing that college students by the time they're seniors have heard of "blacklisting" during the dreaded "McCarthy era" a half century ago, but they don't know about the contemporary blacklist.)

I've heard about the current blacklist for years, and until I became mildly notorious, I occasionally received calls from chairmen of academic departments asking for my view of graduate students whose dissertations I had supervised. One call included this hesitant inquiry: "There's, uh, one question that arose concerning [the candidate's] background … just a hunch, something that came out of my going through his vita .... assistant managing editor, Good News magazine."

When I asked what the hunch was, the departmental chairman whispered the horrid possibility: Is the candidate a "fundamentalist"?  His concern, he hastened to say, was not with religious belief as such, but "we would not want a person who held beliefs that would interfere with his ability to do mainstream scholarship ... We are so very, very eager to have someone doing mainstream research and publication. We want someone who will be nationally recognized, who will have stature in the field."

The professor's caution was logical. Given the biases of leading academics and their journals, a fundamentalist (unless he stays in the closet) will be frozen out, and a university's national reputation will not grow. What's illogical is the tendency of many Christian or conservative college alumni to enable the bias against Christians and conservatives by sending contribution checks made out to the institution's general fund.

Christians particularly, instead of writing undesignated checks, should direct funds to Christian groups on campus such as Reformed University Fellowship, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, or Campus Crusade for Christ. They should also support Christian study centers adjacent to universities. Any donors except liberals should avoid general funds and instead find out about, and support directly the research of, professors who challenge the academy's left-wing orthodoxy.

Donors who have lots of money and want to make a big difference might work to set up new, non-leftist programs within universities. Some moderates and conservatives, with great determination, have already done that at institutions like Princeton, Duke, Brown, Colgate, the University of Colorado, City University of New York, the University of Nebraska-Omaha, and the University of Alaska. The National Association of Scholars, based in Princeton, N.J., is helping to midwife some efforts.

Some potential contributors pessimistically think that university guardians won't allow such centers of opposition to arise. It's important to remember, though, that many academic officials who have turned their backs on God now serve Mammon, and cannot help salivating at the sight of checks waved in front of them. If funding emerges, breakthroughs will come.