tolerance and religious bias in academia
From Mark Bergin in World, an article on the views of college faculty toward those in various religions and denominations.
David French has known for years that college campuses are bastions of anti-evangelical bias. He knew it when he served on the admissions committee at Cornell Law School and watched his colleagues ridicule evangelical applicants as "Bible thumpers" or members of the "God squad." He knew it during his tenure with an education watchdog organization that routinely challenged university speech codes bent on silencing evangelical viewpoints. He knew it when he shifted into his current role as director of the Alliance Defense Fund's Center for Academic Freedom, a position from which he's filed numerous lawsuits on behalf of victimized evangelical students.
But only now can French declare with certainty that his anecdotal observations accurately represent a widespread statistical reality. In a recently released scientific survey of 1,269 faculty members across 712 different colleges and universities, 53 percent of respondents admitted to harboring unfavorable feelings toward evangelicals.
"...the academy has steadfastly refused to admit that the sky is blue—that it has an overwhelming ideological bias that manifests itself in concrete ways. This is another brick in the wall of proving that there's a real problem."
Unlike much of the previous foundation for that proof, this brick hails from a non-evangelical source. Gary A. Tobin, president of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, set out to gauge levels of academic anti-Semitism compared to hostility toward other religious groups. He found that only 3 percent of college faculty holds unfavorable views toward Jews. In fact, no religious group draws anywhere near the scorn of evangelicals, Mormons placing a distant second with a 33 percent unfavorable outcome.
Tobin was shocked. And his amazement only escalated upon hearing reaction to his results from the academy's top brass. Rather than deny the accuracy of Tobin's findings or question his methodology, academy leaders attempted to rationalize their bias. "The prejudice is so deep that faculty do not have any problem justifying it. They tried to dismiss it and said they had a good reason for it," Tobin told WORLD. "I don't think that if I'd uncovered bigotry or social dissonance about Latinos, women, blacks, or Jews, they would have had that same response."
Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), told The Washington Post that the poll merely reflects "a political and cultural resistance, not a form of religious bias." In other words, the college faculty members dislike evangelicals not for their faith but the practical outworking of that faith, which makes it OK.
Other prominent voices from the academy have suggested that the anti-evangelical bias does not likely translate into acts of classroom discrimination. Tobin intends to test that claim with a subsequent survey of 3,500 students in the coming academic year. "My guess: You can't have this much smoke without some fire," he said.
And finally, from French's stint on a search committee:
"I actually had people, to their credit, come up and apologize to me afterwards for adopting an unthinking stance towards this student. Having a living, breathing, in-the-flesh Christian with ideas and thoughts and whom people could occasionally respect made a difference."
That's multiculturalism at its best.