Finding strength in Numbers

Posted: Aug 31, 2004 12:00 AM

?Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, ?We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.? But the men who had gone up with him said, ?We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.?? -Numbers 13: 30-31. NASB.

Over the last two years, I have received scores of ?atta boy? emails from faculty and staff across the country. While congratulating me for my stand against anti-conservative and anti-Christian policies in higher education, few have showed any interest in joining the fight. Put simply, their fears of reprisal outweigh their principles, not to mention their faith in God.

But my frustration with these faithless high-fivers recently came to an end when I got the following email from a professor at N.C. State University:

Dr. Adams,

Here's a copy of a statement I made to the last open forum of the Chancellor Search committee this afternoon:

My name is Ed Gehringer. I'm an associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Computer Science.  I'm here on behalf of the Christian Faculty/Staff Community, an organization of 135 faculty and staff who attest to the saving grace of Jesus Christ in their lives. Our group includes most, if not all, of the faculty advisors of Christian student organizations on campus.

In the last two years, the administration at UNC-Chapel Hill has attempted three times to restrict the rights of Christian students on campus. The first time, the university backed down after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education came to the aid of the students.  The second time, the student government tried to withhold funding to religious student groups, in direct violation of a 1995 U.S. Supreme Court decision. The administration did not step in.

At the last hearing, I said that we need an NCSU Chancellor who is sensitive to the religious rights of students. The committee seemed not to sense the danger. Then, three days later, Moeser revoked the recognition of a Christian fraternity at UNC. Thank you, Chancellor Moeser, for making my case.

The complaint charged that requiring religious qualifications for membership was religious discrimination. And even more egregious, it said that the requirement that members abstain from sex outside of marriage discriminated against homosexual students.

What's wrong with placing requirements on members of a fraternity? Isn't that what pledging is all about?

Last week, Congressman Walter Jones asked the U.S. Department of Education to look into the problem, calling it part of "an ongoing problem of censorship of Christian students" at Chapel Hill.

Yesterday, the fraternity, Alpha Iota Omega, filed suit in federal court, naming the Chancellor and Board of Trustees as defendants. There was a story in the News and Observer yesterday, and today it is the top headline in the daily edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education on the Web.

Some people, who seem to be overrepresented among university administrators, do not believe that part of diversity is having organizations of students who hold allegiance to a higher power in their lives. We in the Christian faculty/staff community beg to differ.  What we want to know is this: Will the new Chancellor be someone who recognizes the importance of spirituality in the lives of students, or will it be someone who tries to make the university as secular as possible? A policy of enforced secularism is not enlightenment, it is repression.

Now of course, this all happened at Chapel Hill.  N.C. State is ?not? Chapel Hill.  And we don't need a Chancellor like they have at Chapel Hill. These cases show how much the selection of a Chancellor matters.

We do not want a Chancellor whose policies invite Congressmen to demand an investigation of our university by the U.S. Dept. of Education.

We do not want a Chancellor who makes policies that get the university and the Board of Trustees sued in federal court.

We in the Christian faculty/staff community call on you to make sure the next Chancellor is someone who respects, and is sympathetic to, the rights of religious students.

Thank you.

It is difficult to overstate the significance of what Ed Gehringer and the 135 courageous members of the NCSU Christian Faculty/Staff Community have just done.

They have reminded us that a life without principles is not worth living. And, of course, no principle is really our own unless we are willing to defend it in the face of adversity. Most of all, they remind us that injustice thrives only when good people remain silent.

How long will it be before these courageous actions become the rule rather than the exception? And how long will like-minded Christians continue to wander in the desert?

Dr. Mike S. Adams is the host of Log on to his website to see his first ?Book of the Month? selection. And move over Oprah Winfrey!