Saturday, October 28, 2006

Freedom From Indoctrination

In an odd twist, Georgetown University founded by a Jesuit priest and rich in Catholic tradition, has banned several evangelical Christian fellowships from their campus.
"The real interesting thing is that Georgetown tossed these groups, but left the Muslim Student Alliance and the Jewish Student Alliance intact," French told WND. "This Christian college is giving more religious freedom to Muslims and Jews than to Christians."
In a related story, conservatives on many college campuses are pushing for an Academic Bill of Rights to protect the academic freedom of college students from ideological indoctrination by "left wing" professors. The federal government is considering a measure to deny federal funding to institutions - even private ones - that refuse to comply. I'm sure that there is a high level of partisan lecturing at the university. It was there when I attended the University of Michigan in the early 80's.

When I was a senior, I took a class in sociology. It was a requirement I somehow missed in my early days. I was the only upper classman among some 50 freshman. It was a pretty uneventful class until toward the end of the semester. The professor started to talk about religion, God, and free will. He lectured us for about 30 minutes on why there was no such thing as God or free will; that everything we think and do is determined by our environment with little choice from us. Most of the class sat there feverishly taking notes. My temperature was rising but it wasn't from taking notes. He concluded his lecture rather smugly with the question, "So, does anyone still think there is a God and that we have a free will?" He was met by blank stares from most, a few shakes of the head, and one hand that went up. Mine.

"Yes, I have free will." I stated emphatically.

" Oh, really. And what young lady do you have the free will to do?" He said, looking down at me.

"I can worship my God any where I choose." (The class groaned.)

"I could make it illegal and put you in jail." (The class squirmed.)

"Yes, but I can still worship God in jail."

"I could cut out your tongue." (The class stared at me.)

"Yes, but I can still worship with my mind."

"I can have you killed." (The class was silent.)

"You haven't solved a thing, I will now be in heaven worshipping my Creator eternally."

At this point, a friend interrupted the discussion and said to the professor, don't argue with her you're never going to win. The flustered professor looked at his watch, muttered something about having to get going and dismissed class early.

Intimidation and indoctrination only work for those who do not know or are not convinced of their own beliefs. We don't need an academic bill of rights. We need students who know and are secure in what they believe.

But you can also see why schools like Hillsdale and Patrick Henry have sprung up. Their decision to forgo federal funding gives them complete liberty in what they teach. If the government would get out of the education business completely, a school would have complete control over what they teach and parents and students can choose the education that's right for them. Until then these disputes are only going to intensify.

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