Ever since the Battle of Indiana, Rod Dreher has been quoting anonymous e-mails and other conversations with conservatives in higher education. The message from each of them is roughly the same: It’s worse than you think, if our views were known, we’d have real trouble on campus, and the campus is closing to Christian thought — with even Christian campuses bowing to the PC gods.
I have two responses to this. First, anyone facing social exclusion or career adversity because of their Christian or (especially) Christian conservative beliefs has my sympathy. Imagine, for a moment, working your entire life towards a career goal and then realizing that all that work could be rendered meaningless if your colleagues understand that you believe the Bible, that you can recite every word of the Apostles’ Creed (and mean it). Imagine the financial insecurity and the stress on your family at the thought that the wrong word at the wrong time could cost you your hard-earned job. I’ve been a Christian in Ivy League higher ed — both as a student and a teacher — and I know what it’s like. It’s not easy.
Second, man up anyway. You’re part of the problem.
I’m sorry, but I have a real problem — in an era when Christians are getting their heads sawed off in the Middle East — with the idea that, say, an American sociology professor feels to scared to proclaim his real beliefs on a liberal campus. I have a real problem — in an era when young Americans have been dying by the thousands in Afghanistan and Iraq in defense of liberty — with the idea that Americans on campus are too timid to even attempt to exercise those blood-bought freedoms. I have a problem with Christians — despite the example of Christ and the Apostles — who are too fearful to share the reason for their eternal hope. No one’s asking you to be a street preacher or some kind of unthinking loudmouth, but you should be ashamed of your timidity.
Every single person who is a Christian who stays “in the closet” — who’s timid about his or her faith — provides fuel to the PC fire, contributing to the notion that there really is something to be ashamed of, that what he believes is somehow wrong.
In reality, the timid Christian has already lost. Without a single act of overt censorship, the forces of PC intolerance end debate, silence a thoughtful voice, and make other Christians feel more isolated than they should.
The courageous Christian (“courage” is a strong word when there’s no physical danger), however, not only calls their bluff, he or she finds allies, and also discovers that even individual Christians still have extraordinary legal and cultural power to impact their campuses (and the broader culture). In real war, it’s typically safer inside the foxhole — huddled outside the sight of the enemy. In the culture war, the foxhole is exactly where the other side wants you, while they roam free, unopposed, across the cultural landscape.
Timid Christians are the masters of self-fulfilling prophecy. Yes, things are getting worse. Partly because of you.