Friday, May 25, 2007

evangelical Christians not respected at university level

I just received the latest edition of "Happenings Around the Church," a Confessing Movement e-publication. I thought I'd share it.

HAPPENINGS AROUND THE CHURCH
May 24, 2007
Dr. Riley B. Case

ON PREJUDICE AGAINST EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS

Despite claims that American universities celebrate diversity and tolerance, an extensive study by the Institute for Jewish and Community Research concludes that an alarming amount of hostility and prejudice is directed against evangelical Christians on university campuses. The study, by Dr. Gary Tobin and Dr. Aryeh Weinberg, and reported in a 100-page document entitled “Religious Beliefs and Behavior of College Faculty,” records that 53% of college faculty hold an unfavorable view toward evangelicals. Faculty are far more tolerant and open toward Muslims (22% favorable), atheists (18% unfavorable), non-evangelical Christians (9% unfavorable), Buddhists (4% unfavorable), and Jews (3% unfavorable). The hostility toward evangelicals was considered the “most alarming” finding of the entire study. Faculty expressed distaste not only for evangelical “politics,” but also for evangelical beliefs and practices. More than twice as many faculty dislike evangelicals than Muslims and more than three times as many dislike evangelicals than atheists. For the full report see: www.jewishresearch.org/PDFs2/FacultyReligion07.pdf

Faculty attitudes were in sharp contrast with the views of the general public in which evangelical Christians were given among the highest percentage (over 50%) favorable view. The study identified about 33% of Americans as evangelical. While not in the Tobin and Weirberg study, it is believed that about 50% of American United Methodists would be considered evangelical (the percentage outside the United States would be much higher).

Thus there is credence in the claim of many evangelical Christians that their college professors belittle and do as much as they can to mock and undermine Christian faith.

A follow-up question would address the climate and culture of liberal seminaries. Since attitudes in the liberal and mainline seminaries often follow the attitudes in the secular academic institutions, would it also be true that prejudice against evangelicals is widespread also in the seminaries? Evangelicals who have attended these seminaries, including United Methodist seminaries, have for years claimed that it is so. Evangelical faith is not affirmed and is often not even understood. Worse, the seminaries do not even recognize their prejudice. This, however, would vary from seminary to seminary and from professor to professor.

7 comments:

Bluebird said...

I can't condone hostility but I can't say it's surprising. Evangelicalism is based on faith and belief. Evangelicals frequently scorn the intellectual/scientific approach, which is considered indispensable in most academic circles. Granted, faculty members should get to know the individual before passing judgment (although, from my observations, the evangelical who prized intellectualism would likely lose his standing amongst other evangelicals).

It's a matter of being in an automatically hostile environment. I would not expect such a warm welcome either, were I to attempt to give a lecture on evolutionary theory at the local Southern Baptist church.

Bluebird said...

Please forgive my last comment. Due to a brain disorder, I think in pretentious-speak. To avoid offending people (and sounding like a bloated idiot) I have to translate it into something more human. I've been ill lately and I'm not translating very well.

Same thought, (hopefully) less boorishness:

University teachers can think whatever they like; it's a free country. But open hostility toward any student is both unprofessional and unworthy of any academic. (Personally, if I were the offending teacher's department head, we'd be having a talk which had better result in a public apology to the student.)

That said, many prominent evangelicals loudly oppose the very scientific and intellectual principles which these faculty members strive to impart to their students. So whatever a student's actual views, when he calls himself an evangelical it's unrealistic not to expect some friction.

Jason Woolever said...

no harm done bluebird. appreciate your sensitivity though.

Brett said...

I got the same email. I put it on my blog as well. It was a great publication.

Jason Woolever said...

hey brett, last night, i saw that you had posted it too. it was good.

Brett said...

I learned abou the Confessing Movement from your blog. Thanks for putting the information out there.

Jason Woolever said...

cool. i'm glad you're getting their stuff.