Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Universities Prove Maggie Right


Maggie Gallagher’s cover story in this week’s Weekly Standard is an absolute must read. As Stanley Kurtz noted in the Corner this morning, Maggie has opened a “whole new dimension” to the debate over same-sex marriage. While I encourage you to read Maggie’s entire article, this paragraph from Stanley’s post is an excellent summary:

Scholars on the left and right agree that the gay marriage movement has raised the specter of a massive and protracted battle over religious liberty. In states that adopt same-sex marriage, religious liberty is clearly going to lose. The source of the problem is the flawed analogy between the battle for same-sex marriage and the sixties movement for civil rights. Gay marriage proponents argue that sexual orientation is like race, and that opponents of same-sex marriage are therefore like bigots who oppose interracial marriage. Once same-sex marriage becomes law, that understanding will be controlling.

To see the truth of this prediction, one need only look at college campuses – where the comparison of the same-sex marriage battle to the civil-rights struggles of the Sixties is the dominant paradigm. To the campus establishment, there is no functional or moral difference between an evangelical Christian proponent of traditional Judeo-Christian sexual morality and George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door. As a consequence, over the last five years, Christians have begun to experience an avalanche of persecution on campus. Since the case Maggie mentioned at Tufts University where the university ejected the Tufts Christian Fellowship from campus without due process for the “crime” of requiring that its leaders agree with the Biblical standards of evangelical Christianity, dozens of major universities have either taken similar action or threatened to. Lawsuits have been filed at UNC Chapel Hill, Penn State, Rutgers, Ohio State, the University of Minnesota, Arizona State, Southern Illinois, and elsewhere challenging the application of expansive nondiscrimination policies to Christian student groups.

As bad as this situation is, it is only growing worse. Not content with excluding Christian student groups from campus because of their moral stance on homosexuality, colleges are going further, much further, by attacking students and staff simply for the thoughts in their heads. At Washington State University, the university’s school of education almost denied a conservative Christian student a degree when he expressed disagreement with many aspects of the school’s so-called “social justice” mission, including disapproval of one person’s choice to become a “lesbian mom.” In other words, a student’s opinion on homosexual adoption — without any evidence of actual discriminatory conduct — was considered dangerous enough to threaten his entire education. (See also the faculty of Ohio State Mansfield’s outrageous decision to accuse a librarian of sexual harassment for suggesting that freshmen read a book that advocates a traditional view of sexual morality).

Ending “homophobia” has become part of the “conceptual framework” of public universities, and is culminating in explicit state religious instruction to defeat religious objections to homosexual behavior. For example, Georgia Tech’s Safe Space Training Manual contains multiple statements endorsing permissive religious viewpoints and rejecting traditional or orthodox religious positions. The manual evaluates various religious traditions (classifying some as “anti-gay” and others as “relatively free of homophobia”) and then weighs in on the merits of Biblical arguments. For example, see this statement in response to the question, “Is homosexuality immoral?”

Many religious traditions have taught, and some continue to teach, that homosexuality is immoral.  These condemnations are based primarily on a few isolated passages from the Bible.  Historically, Biblical passages taken out of context have been used to justify such things as slavery, the inferior status of women, and the persecution of religious minorities.

In other words, a person who holds the traditional Christian view of sexual morality is equivalent to a person who would twist scriptures to justify slavery. Where is the Left’s eternal vigilance on state establishments of religion?  I suppose when the establishment in question serves the overall leftist mission of ending “homophobia” (however that is defined), then the so-called “wall of separation” is not quite as high as once thought. The Ten Commandments on the wall? Well, that represents intolerable religious endorsement. State officials teaching students and staff that religious conservatives are the moral equivalent of slavers? That’s just “social justice.”

Whenever campus Christians fight back to secure their most basic liberties, faculties and administrations often behave as if the recognition of a Christian Fellowship is only one half-step from permitting a battalion of Klansmen to gallop across the quad. I used to think such rhetoric was counterproductive hyperbole designed to demonize conservative Christians.  In fact, for many campus leftists, it is a cry from the heart — a genuine expression of moral equivalence. And that is perhaps the most disturbing fact of all.


Subscribe to National Review