Category Archives: Religion, Politics, & Economics

The Hijacking of Liberalism in Higher Education

I have many friends who consider themselves ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’ — and I think that classic liberalism has some good things to offer as we continue to develop a vision for our nation.  However I am disturbed to see classic liberalism disappearing and being hijacked by an extreme form of leftism — and there is nothing liberal or progressive about this new trend.  If you call yourself a liberal, then I hope you are as disturbed as I am about the way your movement has been taken over by a very different ideology.

The United States was originally envisioned as a Image result for the land of the freeplace where people would have the freedom to express their ideas in respectful ways with each other.  Freedom of religion, speech, assembly, the press, bearing arms, were all written into the Bill of Rights in order to reassure citizens that their basic rights would be protected.  Yet now we see a movement in the academic world and in the popular culture to silence all dissent on various controversial topics including sexuality, family structure, global warming, politics, economics, race relations, religion, and morality.  Those who disagree with leftist ideology are routinely vilified, assaulted, and silenced by various institutions, mobs, media chains, civic organizations, and corporations.

Related imageIn the first few months of 2017 we have witnessed angry mobs shutting down dozens of public forums and speeches scheduled at various college campuses.  The administrations and law enforcement agencies have generally caved to the pressure of the angry mobs.  In a country nicknamed “the land of the free,” we have witnessed free speech being silenced by bullies, thugs, and spoiled students who are apparently too fragile to be exposed to alternative expressions of thought.

One of my first experiences of the closing of the American mind in the modern university setting came when I was a graduate student at Princeton Theological Seminary.  It was during a meeting of the Image result for hate speechAssociated Student Council at the seminary when the council voted to not allow for a campus organization named Presbyterian Pro-Life Fellowship.   The student council decided that this group was not permitted to organize on campus and would not be recognized since it was a politically biased group.  The odd thing about this is that the student council of the seminary had two years earlier voted to give full recognition to Presbyterians for Lesbian and Gay Concerns (PLGC).  The council saw no problem with officially approving this group as a campus organization.  They did not notice anything inconsistent about their decision even though it was pointed out to the council that the PLGC group was clearly a group dedicated to a particular bias and a particular moral/political/legal point of view (i.e. the legitimization of homosexual marriage).  The pro-life group was silenced and marginalized, the pro-gay group was welcomed and affirmed.

That was 30 years ago.   In the intervening 30 year period, the opposition to free speech and diversity of thought on university campuses has become overwhelming.  Hostility toward people who don’t embrace leftist ideology has become commonplace.

American universities which were designed to be places of exploring diversity of thought are now institutions of zealous indoctrination without a single opposing voice being welcomed at the table.   Finding a single conservative thinker in a department of Psychology, Literature, History, Political Science, or Religion,  is like finding a penguin in the Mojave Desert — not many exist, and any that you might find are endangered.

In a recent conversation I had with a person who serves as an academic dean at a large public university how many conservative republicans or Evangelical Christians are on the faculty of his university in the departments of literature, history, psychology, or political science, he said that he could not think of a single example.  He admitted it was lopsided but said the problem is that they do not receive applicants for these positions who are conservative in their viewpoints.  I suspect  the Department of Diversity at his university is not working very hard to remedy that situation.

The modern university has a very skewed Image result for celebrate diversity approach to diversity.  Diversity for these academic leaders is an environment dominated by administrators, instructors, organizations, and  students with different ethnicities, ages, nationalities,  and “multiple genders” who all think, speak, and vote in  exactly the same way — embracing the same worldview.   They all embrace secularism, moral relativism, feminism,  and all the other ‘isms’ that align with leftist ideology.     It’s dishonest and naïve to claim that a modern university ‘celebrates diversity’ — instead they insist on sameness in all of their areas of influence.  The party line on campus is that you must think like a leftist or you will be marginalized, vilified, and silenced.

Image result for university free speech riotsI am not sure that this quote from Noam Chomsky can be substantiated — but if a staunch leftist like Chomsky affirms free speech for his opponents, where are the liberals or progressives who will step forward to turn the tide in a different direction.

I found it refreshing to discover at least one classic liberal who woke up to the realization that liberalism has been hijacked.  His name is  Dave Rubin.    He used to gladly embrace the label “progressive” but now he’s not a progressive.  He has left the left.  He’s an openly gay man who is married.  Why did he leave the progressive movement? You can watch this 4 minute video (link below) to understand what he (and I) are so concerned about regarding the future of liberalism and the progressive movement in our country.  I hope and pray that on topics of religion, politics, science, economics, and all other pursuits,  American universities  can come back to a place of truly honoring diversity, free speech, and free thinking.

Why I Left the Left – David Rubin

Watch the video and let me know what you think.

New Year & A New President

We are perched again at the beginning of a new year. Many of us Image result for donald trump presidentfind ourselves at the beginning of a new year hoping for a lot of things – hoping that some things will be the same and hoping that some things will be different. I know that I hope 2017 will be better than 2016 for myself, for my loved ones, and for the church I serve. Yet I also know that each year seems to have both blessings and hardships – sometimes a lot more of one than the other, but this is to be expected.

2017 seems to have a lot more ‘unknowns’ for us due to the inauguration of a new president on January 20th. There have been a lot more ‘unknowns’ with the election of Donald Trump than around the election of mostly ‘career politicians’ to the office of the presidency over the past many years. For some people the unknowns bring a sense of excitement and for others these unknowns bring a sense of fear and even hysteria.

Followers of Jesus are called upon to be people of hope and faith, rather than people of fear and anxiety.  When we grow in Christ we spend less energy running around as if our hair is on fire because we trust God’s providence in all situations.   Of course we must take politics seriously since political realities are part of the human condition which impact human life – but we must not give politics too much importance in our lives since this is a sign that we are falling into a subtle form of idolatry.

Remember that God’s word calls us again and again to put our hope and faith in the Lord rather than in human institutions. I love this clear counsel given in Psalm 146:

2I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God.

As you read these verses from the Psalms it is clear that putting our trust, our hope, and our faith in the Lord is an essential part of living what is called a “blessed” life. When we put our trust in human institutions we will tend toward the twin core sins of anxiety and idolatry. As followers of Jesus we need to model to the world that the one who is sitting in the Oval Office does not have as big of an impact on our lives as the One who is on the throne in Heaven.

So let’s look toward 2017 with hope and faith instead of with fear. Let us pray for our nation and for a new president who surely needs our prayers (whether he knows it or not). And let us pray for one another as we serve Jesus together as the one who is (as we sing in the Easter hymn) the “Lamb upon His throne,” the “Potentate of Time” and the “matchless King through all eternity.” He is the One who is worthy of our hope and trust no matter what life brings our way.