Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bowdoin College Kicks a Christian Prayer Group Off Campus: Slowly, But with Accelerating Speed, Catholics Will Be Driven Out of the Universities and Public Life

The New York Times carried a front page story today about a decision by Bowdoin College to withdraw recognition of a Christian prayer group as an official student organization.

And what did the Christians do to cause Bowdoin to cast them into the outer darkness? The group refused to allow non-Christians to be appointed as their organizational leaders.

Bowdoin is one of many so-called elite colleges and universities around the country that are withdrawing recognition to Christian student groups, which generally means these groups will be denied access to facilities and services that are open to other student groups--the local S &M club for example.  Vanderbilt has done the same thing, along with Tufts, State University of New York at Buffalo and Hastings Law School in California.

WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF RELIGION?

Edith Stein
Later St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
(Did not attend Bowdoin)
What happened to the constitutional right to freedom of religion, you may be asking? Didn't the Supreme Court rule in Widmar v. Vincent that a state university could not deny recognition to a Christian student group if it recognized other student organizations?

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court overturned Widmar v. Vincent as a constitutional  precedent, although the Court did not have the courage or the intellectual honesty to say so.  In Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, as cynical a piece of sophistry as anything the Court ever wrote, Justice Ruth Ginsberg upheld a decision by Hastings Law School to deny recognition to the Christian Legal Society because the CLS limited its members to Christians who agreed to abide by traditional Christian beliefs about sexual morality.

Justice Ginsberg said that Hastings had a compelling governmental interest in enforcing an open-to-all-comers policy for all student groups and could deny recognition to any student group that refused to comply. CLS denied membership to anyone who did not commit to the Christian standard of sexual morality, which prohibits all sexual activity outside the relationship of marriage between a woman and a man.

The bottom line is this: According to the morality that prevails at some of America's most prestigious (and expensive) colleges, Christian groups discriminate against people who do not adhere to Christian sexual values.  Thus they should be kicked off campus. In the postmodern academic mind, Christian students who hold traditional religious beliefs about sexual morality are reprehensible--as reprehensible, I suppose as racists.

The universities' anti-Christian policies are not expressly aimed at Catholics.  So far, from what I can gather, it has been evangelical Protestant groups that have been exiled.  But Catholic student organizations are as vulnerable as Protestant groups to expulsion.  Catholics believe, after all, in Christ's real presence in the Eucharist--a belief not held by Protestants. Catholic will never allow a Protestant or non-Catholic to be a leader of a Catholic student organization.

And--under Justice Ginsberg's wacky reasoning, a Catholic student organization that refuses to allow an abortion advocate to be an elected leader would also fall afoul of the CLS v. Martinez ruling.

So Catholic student groups are going to be pushed off college campuses. In fact, I'm sure that has already begun happening.


What does this mean? Three things I think:

MORALLY BANKRUPT COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

First of all, the decision by Bowdoin, Tufts, Vanderbilt and other elitist institutions to censor Christian student groups demonstrates just how shallow, vacuous and intellectually dishonest our nation's colleges and universities have become. Based on no basis other than the fashions of the day,  colleges and universities that Americans once trusted to preserve and pass on our nation's cultural and religious heritage have declared that Christianity--or at least traditional forms of Christianity--is a shameful cult that does not deserve to even have a presence on an American college campus.

Of course, the new campus groupthink won't have any effect on the mainstream Protestant organizations--the Methodists, Episcopalians, and the Disciples of Christ.  Those folks don't have any firm religious convictions; their doctrine changes with the whims of the New York Times editorial page. As long as they keep their Times subscription current and do what the Times editorial-page writers tell them to do, they will be fine.

But if you are a Catholic, a Mormon, a Muslim, or a Southern Baptist then you are a bigot in the minds of many campus administrators; and it will be the job of the university to re-educate you--just as China re-educated its dissidents during the Cultural Revolution.

But at least the Chinese didn't require its nonconformists to pay outrageous tuition  to brain wash you.  The rural re-education camps were free!

CATHOLICS WILL BE PUSHED OUT OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Second,the higher education communities' accelerating trend into mendacity, deceit, and sophistry will push faithful Catholics out of the nation's leading universities and out of the professions, which have shown a distressing trend to censor Christian views.  The day will come when law, medicine, education, counseling, and academia in general will be closed to anyone who professes a belief in the doctrines and tenets of the Catholic faith.

EVANGELICAL PROTESTANTS AND CATHOLICS ARE IN THIS TOGETHER

And third, I think Catholics and evangelical Protestants will grow closer as the kulterkampe expands its reach and America's intellectual elites become bolder in their bigotry.  Personally, I have a growing admiration for our Protestant brothers and sisters who have taken their place in the front lines in the fight against abortion. And I believe evangelical Protestants are looking more tolerantly toward Catholicism.

Now may be an opportunity for Catholics to reach out and evangelize the evangelical Protestants. I think we might be surprised by how receptive they are to our Catholic faith.

BACK TO THE CATACOMBS

Certainly, as evangelical Protestants and Catholics go down into the catacombs together, we will have plenty of time to contemplate the Gospel and to ask ourselves what God requires of us as the Postmodern Age sweeps aside the culture, the traditions and the moral principles that are the bedrock of Western Civilization.

And while we are down in those catacombs, let us mediate on the life of St. Edith Stein, who was a great intellectual who held two doctoral degrees and has been named a Doctor of the Catholic Church.  If Edith were alive today, her views would not be welcome at Bowdoin College.  I don't think Bowdoin would gas her as the Nazis did at Auschwitz; but  in the coming years, who knows how far the new anti-Christian bigotry will go?

References

 Michael Paulson. Colleges and Evangelicals Collide on Bias Policy. New York Times, June 10, 2014, p. 1.












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