Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Dictatorship of Relativism

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), a leftist union of university professors, is conducting a witch hunt to exclude Christian universities from the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC). It wants to ban them, exclude them or force them to become just like all the other universities in Canada and it wants to do it in the name of tolerance, diversity and freedom. Sometimes it is hard to remember whether one is reading an George Orwell novel or the daily newspaper these days. Apparently some of the animals in the AUCC are more equal than the others, according to CAUT. See the story in MacLean's here.

Adrian McNair, writing in an article entitled "Clamping Down on Canadian Christians" in yesterday's National Post, comments:
"According to an article in Maclean’s Magazine’s “on campus” website, an organization called the Canadian Association of University Teachers [CAUT] is alleging that Trinity Western University, a Christian University, violated academic freedom. The reason? Because TWU describes itself as a “a faith-based institution, one inspired by Christ’s life and guided by his teachings.” More than that, it requires faculty to sign a “Statement of Faith” annually, in a document that outlines the “philosophical framework to which all faculty, staff and administration are committed without reservation.”

At first glance, one might conclude that CAUT is correct. The concept of forcing faculty to submit to a series of absolutist statements [belief in the bible, in one infinitely perfect god, that Jesus Christ was a real man, and in “the bodily resurrection of the dead; of the believer to everlasting blessedness and joy with the Lord, of the unbeliever to judgment and everlasting conscious punishment.”] seems at odds with the premise of a learning institution as being one of an open-ended perspective on the Universe.

CAUT says that this statement violates the standard definition of academic freedom, since it ensures a religiously homogeneous staff. Of course, it wouldn’t make sense not to have a religiously homogeneous staff of Christians in a Christian University. So what is at stake here isn’t just the question of pluralism and diversity in ideology, but whether faith-based institutions have a right to exist at all. That question, according to CAUT, isn’t behind the designation of TWU. But how could one construe it in any other way?

There is, I think you will accept, some irony in a diverse association claiming to represent the entire spectrum of University Teachers in Canada, representing a unified opinion on TWU. CAUT argues that TWU’s statement of Christian affirmation rejects relativism, the basis for pluralism, and indeed, for multiculturalism."

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