Friday, February 11, 2011

Pushing Back Against the Anti-Christian Witch Hunt on Campus

Congratulations to Dr. Paul Allen of Concordia University in Montreal for organizing a petition to push back against the McCarthy-style witch hunt currently being waged by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) against small, Christian universities in Canada. The National Post reported in a story on Tuesday entitled: "Professors group accused of anti-Christian bullying" that:

"What we have here is an academic union ganging up on these smaller Christian universities, and I thought it was high time that people from the public universities take a stand," said Paul Allen, an associate professor of theology at Concordia University in Montreal.

The protest is a direct response to reports that the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) issued against Trinity Western University in British Columbia more than a year ago, Crandall University in New Brunswick in July and Winnipeg's Canadian Mennonite University in October.

"It bothered me that this is anti-religious ideology masked as supposedly an academic freedom issue," said Mr. Allen, who has started a petition to warn about CAUT's actions. "This was an opportunity in the current [secular climate] to go after religion."

The petition, which now has 140 signatures, said the investigations are unwarranted and invasive.

Mr. Allen and many others who signed the petition are members of CAUT, which has 65,000 members. Academics at the schools that were investigated are not members.

Read the rest here. The National Post also has an editorial this morning entitled: "Stop the anti-Christian witchhunt on campus." Its description of the process by which a small group of radicals on the Association's staff are abusing their positions in order to perpetuate their own biases against all things Christian is withering:

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) — which describes itself as Canada’s “national voice for academic staff” — says it has investigated four small Christian colleges and universities in the past 18 months because it wants parents to know what kind of institutions their sons and daughters might attend. In other words, we are told, there is nothing nefarious in the 65,000-member union’s action. It is merely performing a valuable public service.

This is disingenuous nonsense. The CAUT is on a thinly disguised anti-Christian witch hunt. There is no other way to describe it.

The investigations were instigated entirely by CAUT executive and staff. The staff at the four universities aren’t even members of the association, so do not come under its mandate. No authorization was sought from the association’s members. There was no resolution passed at any annual meeting encouraging senior staff to scrutinize the schools’ hiring practices. No complaints were received from members — or anyone else — about the faith-based hiring and teaching at the schools: Trinity Western University in British Columbia, Crandall University in New Brunswick, Winnipeg’s Canadian Mennonite University and Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ont.

Association leaders seem simply to have gotten it in their heads that where Christian values are part of a school’s hiring standards and curriculum, good, independent scholarship is impossible.
So they launched probes all on their own.

Dr. Allen's petition can be found here. It reads:
We object in principle to CAUT’s arbitrary restriction of academic freedom to individuals and its failure to consider the corporate dimensions of that freedom. We note that the very concept of academic freedom arose historically in religiously founded institutions. In a time when colleges and universities are under great pressure to serve the interests of commercial and political initiatives, religious institutions can play a special role in preserving academic freedom.

We also observe that the missional specificity of religious institutions is not without analogue in public institutions, which may contain within them institutes or research centres with their own acknowledged pre-commitments. Both remain free associations of scholars.

We call on CAUT to cease its harassment of these institutions, for which there is no mandate from the membership at large. That harassment is inconsistent with the ethos of religious freedom affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada and human rights law
This is a moderate, historically-informed, liberal, sensible statement which reflects the kinds of attitudes found in institutions where true academic freedom flourishes. Increasingly, true academic freedom is found to flourish less and less in the most secularized environments and more so in traditionally religious institutions. The university was founded in the bosom of the Church and will likely survive there even when the major, publicly-funded universities of the Western world degenerate into ideologically-driven bastions of cultural Marxist-inspired political correctness.

1 comment:

Diane said...

Thanks, Craig, for this informative article. I didn't realize that the Canadian Association of University Teachers had published reports against Trinity Western, Crandall and other Christian universities. Are those reports available to the public? We, as Christians, need to be very concerned about the anti-Christian bias of certain segments of the secular universities. I'm so glad someone is pushing back. It's sad to see that many are so blind to the true source of freedom, academically and otherwise, that is found in Jesus Christ.