Jan 9, 2006

Fired for His Faith

This weekend's Wall Street Journal had an interesting piece on a professor at Wheaton who was fired for his faith basically. He was teaching Aquinas to students at this Protestant university but then once he converted to Catholicism he was let go.

Now Wheaton makes all their faculty sign a letter saying that they uphold a belief in “biblical doctrine that is consonant with evangelical Christianity.” The last two words of the sentence may be most important as Wheaton has a pretty rigid "Protestants only" policy which is upheld by the 1964 Civil Rights Act which carves out an exemption for religious colleges.

I'm sort of libertarian in this mindset. I think people should be allowed to hire who they'd like. I obviously think that means that they should be mindful of diversity and that diverse minds simply make the world more interesting and make you cover all your tracks. In the academy, I think not looking at all sides of the coin leads to a self-fulfilling inner sanctum where you miss out on a good deal of the whole educational experience.

So in this instance, I think Wheaton is short-sighted but I also think they have the right to let this guy go.

By the same token--I found it interesting that Notre Dame's faculty is only 53% Catholic. I wonder much about the catholic identity of universities but I also think the adherence to that identity really resides with the Campus Ministry or Chaplancy departments and not the academic study of theology and other subjects.

A friend recently applied to a Catholic law school. He was a Jesuit school grad, did a year of the Jesuit International Volunteer Program, and had a master's in religious education. The admissions officers at the Catholic law school asked him if he thought he's fit in.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

They replied, "You do know that like nobody here believes in God, right?"

Now I'm as liberal as the next guy, but I wrote a letter to the President of the University after I heard this one.

There does seem to be a middle ground, I think. Perhaps religious schools should be "tolerant" of other traditions and open to the exploration of other traditions in fields of academic study.


They also need to unabashedly and unapologetically proclaim their own tradition well. I think that is the role of Campus Ministers--a role all too often given short-shrift in the University.

Perhaps that is where Wheaton should've concentrated their efforts.

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Googling God

Googling God
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