Saturday, May 5, 2007

Evangelicals disdained?

And she emerges, still alive, from a finals week caffeine OD coma in order to comment upon the Washington Post!

So, the question as the Post's headline puts it: Is there disdain for Evangelicals in the Classroom?

Okay, let's see here. A college student got hauled before a faculty committee on charges of discriminating against gays because she wouldn't send a letter petitioning the state of Missouri to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. Yeah, I got a problem with that. It's her problem if she believes that the government should discriminate against people. College should make her think critically about her position, but not force her to act in a manner contradictory to her beliefs. But then, the professor in question says that there was a massive misunderstanding and she never had to send a letter or sign a petition. Crap happens when dealing college administrations. And let's face it, it is an epidemic that college professors fail to adequately explain an assignment the first time around.

But that's just my commentary on the human interest/ introduction bit of the article. The meat of the article is still coming.

Some bloke did a study and found that while college professors basically only have negative opinions about are Evangelical Christians and Mormons. Students of other religious persuasions -- not an issue. Okay, yes, it's a bias -- newsflash, college professors are humans and have biases. And now, people are crying that higher education in the US is suffering from rampant discrimination against Evangelicals. The fellow who did the poll even compared professorial dislike of evangelicals to bias against students of color.

*begin sarcasm* I can't imagine why a biology professor would be annoyed by a student who insists that the earth is only 6,000 years old or that evolution is a big myth. I can't possibly see how a Religious Studies professors would be bothered by the kid who is quite sure that no Christian could be pro-choice and refuses to consider the existence of different opinions on the subject. Or, the other lovely storm I have witnessed: the girl who freaks out and derails discussion on post-colonial and liberation theology christologies by screaming about how offended she was that someone found it theologically useful to imagine Jesus as a gay man. *end sarcasm* People who are absolutely convinced that they are right and that there is no real substance to any philosophy that does not agree with their personal beliefs are difficult. I've also seen problems with hard-core vegans and hard-core atheists making it difficult to carry on a decent discussion in the classroom. The problem is not the beliefs of evangelicals, per se, the problem is that evangelicals are notoriously bad at accepting the legitimacy of beliefs other than their own.

Dealing with hard-core evangelical Christians in the classroom can be incredibly difficult for me as a fellow student, and I have heard professors express some frustration with such students. But when you have a student who is not simply trying to express his or her opinion, but is refusing to accept that people can hold differing positions -- yeah, it's a problem.

What's worse is that the students raising cain aren't the majority of Evangelical Christians, many of whom are indeed capable of accepting that there are many differing beliefs that people can hold. So, it is unfair that professors, because of the actions of a few, have developed a distaste for all Evangelicals. But it's also hardly the same as professors holding negative opinions of students of color. The color of your skin isn't something you can do anything about. How you respond when someone presents an idea that differs from your beliefs or even calls them into question is something that is under your control. Big difference.

3 comments:

MESSIANIC GENTILE said...

I too am embarrassed (my word not yours but it seems to fit) by my Christian brother AND sisters much of the time. In fact, I actually FEEL rather lonely as a believer amid my own beliefs and opinions quite often. But those pesky fundamentalists give all the rest of us a bad name way too often. And sometimes I want to join those who seem against church and faith just so I can find better company!

All that said, there are loopholes all through it at the same time. I actually am quite conservative in my faith. I don't plan on changing that. That does not mean I disagree with your post at all. I try to be a thoughtful believer who is willing to consider other sides of the coin. When in doubt, I tend to keep my position until compelled to change. And yet, there are PLENTY from my faith tradtion who would eagerly color me as LIBERAL with all caps! and write me off as a nonbeliever.

I am for woman power etc. (Not for abortion, but where the two do not conflict definitely for empowerment and enrichment of women.) I am okay with instrumental music in worship. I like to eat potluck in the church building. I fellowship Baptists, Methodists, Pentacostals, numerous variations as well as Anglicans and even Catholics. (Struggle with them, but fellowship them all the same!)

For me being a "N -word" lover is not a problem. Loving rednecks is. And yet, I see that as the rub really. And to unpack that (yes I realize your post only touched on race and did not really address the issues therein) is to open up too many angles of discussion to pursue here. To love rednecks means, effectively, to love all white people, but that in turn does not mean all white people are rednecks. It also does not require me to hate people of color, though the rednecks would (typically) prefer it.

These things are complicated. and That is basically my point in response. And you have tackled a complicated issue here. I think you have done a fine job of it too, btw.

Posts like this make me think you should check out Nate Bostians blog. I think you would like his stuff. I suspect he would like yours too. I have not mastered creating links here, but you can find his blog at:

http://natebostian.blogspot.com/

I cannot remember now when it was last year that he posted on how TBN and TV Christians tend to embarrass him, but he did a fine job of exorcizing these demons too. And he wound up being pretty generous with the TV folx with the stupid hair and all that crap.

I hope you will check him out. Tell him I sent you.

Many blessings...

Jesus is Lord!

WordK said...

MG (do you mind if I use the abbreviation),

Embarrassed works nicely here. I like it. And it's amazing how easy it is to be labeled a liberal, isn't it? I think the problem is more with the terms liberal and conservative: who's who and what are we using for a comparison anyway?

I can understand your frustration -- particularly with the women's empowerment/abortion issue. To be opposed to abortion is not to be anti-woman, at all -- it's a shame that the two issues, while related, have been so inextricably linked with each other. It hurts the feminists. They lose people who are generally on their side over one single issue. For me, the ethical issues surrounding abortion are so very complicated that I try to avoid any blanket statements at all on the matter. I believe people of faith can be either pro-choice or pro-life in good faith.

Oh, the rednecks -- I have a long-standing love-hate relationship with them. A result of growing up a rural farm girl, I think.

Thanks for the compliment and the blog suggestion. Also, would you mind if I added you to my blogroll?

MESSIANIC GENTILE said...

Abreviations are cool. You did not invent "MG" though I cannot remember now who did. It works.

Blogroll! Yes.

I need to return the favor. I will get on that...

I dig your blog. It is really spicy. Seems almost dangerous! I certainly try to be edgy sometimes too. I have offended others with my blunt sometimes scathing rhetoric. At least others have expressed feeling offended sometimes.

I hope if that happens between us that we will continue to find grace -even if it is after the fact.

Agreement is not a requirement for visitors of my blog. I have yet to admit I was wrong on anything though. (Remember when Fletch said "it takes a big man to admit when he is wrong... I am not a big man!)

Well, anyway, I like your blog and will be back. Often.

Many blessings...