Star Parker

I became my own story last week when I got word that a large Catholic University in Minnesota, University of Saint Thomas, denied permission for me to speak there as part of my college speaking tour.

How could this be happening? A Catholic university, which has played host to talks from left wing Al Franken and a transgendered woman named Debra Davis, nixes a presentation on abortion from a conservative black woman?

Conservative blogs were soon aflame. Then stories in print. Plenty of flak started reaching the university and soon a representative was on the phone to put me back on their calendar.

I'm glad things worked out, regardless of why.

I've been speaking on university campuses for years. Over 150 of them. I know firsthand their left-leaning bent and what a conservative has to deal with walking into the belly of the liberal beast.

But this incident had a more bitter tinge than usual. This was a Catholic university and my topic was abortion.

Plus, the rejection came just as Pope Benedict XVI, who has called abortion "today's greatest injustice," was scheduled to arrive in the United States for his "teaching" visit.

How could I not feel irony when, shortly after receiving the call to reschedule my presentation, a few miles from me, at Catholic University in Washington, D.C,. the Pope was talking about the importance of Catholic universities aligning themselves with church doctrine?

Pope Benedict XVI has talked about the "dictatorship of relativism." This accurately captures what we're dealing with on our campuses.

The Randolph Foundation funded a survey a few years ago of university professors' political leanings. The work was done by professors from George Mason University, Smith College, and the University of Toronto.

Seventy two percent of American university professors identified themselves as liberals and 15 percent conservative. Fifty percent self-identified as Democrats and 11 percent Republican.

In a recent column, Michael Barone of US News & World Report, analyzing Democratic primary voting patterns, noted that Barack Obama's support has been particularly strong in university towns.

And, not surprisingly, our youth is becoming ever more firmly planted on the left. According to the Pew Research Center, 58 percent of 17-29 year olds call themselves liberals and 76 percent identify as Democrats.

Recent Gallup polling shows that in a match-up between Barack Obama and John McCain, Obama wins by 20 points among 18-29 years olds.

Young people are naturally inclined to be open, to experiment, to try anything once.

But there is a world of difference in openness in the pursuit of truth and openness in a world in which there is no truth.

The Pope, in his remarks at Catholic University, noted his appreciation for the importance of academic freedom. However, he points out that there is no inconsistency between faith and academic freedom.

Key here is his observation that "in a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation."

Too often what we now call academic freedom is in fact the politicization of our campuses. Openness with no truth becomes politics and the exercise of power. What, or who, becomes the arbiter of what is wisdom?

Not surprisingly, the Randolph Foundation study found that where truth is the most subtle professors are most consistently on the left. Eighty-one percent of humanities professors identify themselves as liberal and 75 percent of those in social sciences do.

To state the obvious, our youth is our future. There are 42 million Americans in the 18-29 age bracket. Many will move from the left as the experience of life gives them the dose of truth that they are not getting in their formal education. But how many and at what cost?

Have abortion, divorce, and sexually transmitted diseases become our primary educational tools for learning about the sanctity of life, of family, and the meaning of love?

As stated by the wise Pope who now graces us with his visit and teaching, our materialism leads us "to lose sight of our dependence on others as well as the responsibilities we bear towards them."

And that "freedom is not only a gift but also a summons to personal responsibility."


Star Parker

Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do About It.

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