Saturday, May 23, 2009

Authoritarian Arrogance at Liberty University

From NBC's First Read:

Liberty University, the school in Virginia founded by the late Jerry Falwell, has expelled the Democratic Party club on the campus, saying that the national Democratic Party's views contradict the university's mission... Said a school official in an email to the Democratic club, according to the Lynchburg (VA) newspaper: "The Democratic Party platform is contrary to the mission of Liberty University and to Christian doctrine (supports abortion, federal funding of abortion, advocates repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, promotes the "LGBT" agenda, hate crimes, which include sexual orientation and gender identity, socialism, etc.).

What ticks me off most about this move is not the censorship and authoritarianism that it displays, but the fact that the school would assert that there is such a thing as a "Christian doctrine." This is, of course, par the course for this particular crowd of fundamentalistic evangelicals, but it still irritates me. I may be a "pro-life" Christian, but I am not stupid: I recognize that there is no scientific proof that a fetus is a human child, and I know full well that Christ never talked about abortion. He also never talked about homosexuality or socialism. (On that note, I think anyone living in a socialist country would laugh at the notion that the Democrats are socialists, and those who suggest otherwise only betray their own political ignorance and ideological blindness).

To suggest that all Christians must believe a specific view about these (or any other political) issues lest they walk apart from God is hogwash. It is arrogant and it is un-Christ like. This behavior reads things into the Gospel that are not there, and uses Christianity to reaffirm previously-held beliefs rather than, like Jesus, challenge the establishment. It conforms to the Roman American status quo rather than seeking to reconcile us as one body.

I would also point out a certain irony in this move: Students at Liberty have no liberty. It is now the official policy of Liberty University to only grant personal liberty to those who will use it in the same ways that Falwell used his.

Liberty University is not a Christian college. It does not follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, but the teachings of the Republican Party, an institution that came 1830 years after the resurrection and in no way resembles the early Christian church. I am a Christian, and I disown everything about Liberty University.


Jordan said...

You are right on the abortion issue. However 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is rather explicit on the LGBT issue:

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." (NIV)

If that's not enough here's Romans 1:24-27

"Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion."

If the Democratic Party Club on the Liberty campus backs principles that violates Liberty University's interpretations of the above passages (and they aren't the only examples) then they have every right to expel whomever and whatever that violates their mission. I'm not saying it's right or wrong; what I'm saying is that it is Liberty University's right as a private university to do so.

If that makes their name a bitter irony, then so be it. Of course they could have done what BYU-I did and dissolve all political parties on campus.

Nathan Empsall said...

You're not saying whether Liberty is right or wrong, just that they have the right. I'm the reverse: I'm not saying that they don't have the right, just that they're wrong. (And as far as BYU goes, I don't agree with that decision, but I can still respect it as it is at least it's fair and not arrogant or ideological. Not so with Liberty.)

On the LGBT issue, it's far too late at night for me to get into it, but I would point to the 8th question and answer in this interview as one of several reasons why I think your reading of the Bible is fallible and incorrect:

My point on homosexuality and the other mentioned issues is this: There are several Christian beliefs. You can argue that only one is correct, but the fact remains that Christianity is not united on the issue, no matter what Jerry Falwell Jr. and his ilk say, and so it is arrogant and blind for any one camp to paint their position as the one and only "Christian doctrine." You can argue that the issue has one true position, but not one Christian position.

Nathan Empsall said...

BTW, the only thing I said about homosexuality in my post is that Christ never talked about it. You didn't disprove that by quoting Paul. The issue comes up in the New Testament, but never in the Gospels. Just sayin' - to hold the "conservative" position is one thing, but to make it a priority like Liberty has done is another.

Brian R said...

Until recently all our universities were rune by the state. In the last few years the Catholic church has established a university here. As far as I can tell they are so far following the concept of freedom of views. In my time at university (60's) the whole concept of a university was for discussion and refining of views. The idea that any view should be banned goes against my idea of why a university exists.

Cany said...

I won't get into the Bible and the lgbt issue other than to say that absolutely no one completely agrees (Christian or not) on what the Bible says about it. But the disagreement does NOT make anyone Christian or the reverse as you point out.

It is the university's right to limit free speech if they choose, and also free thought as they are a private university. But that they choose to do so is telling.

The vertical approach to thought and dissection of opinion by some Christian groups and/or churches (including this university and include here the protest of Obama at Notre Dame) is antithetical to the secular and constitutional rights given everyone. That a university chooses to restrain these constitutional guarantees is telling. What they appear to support is theocracy and, as we know, that isn't going to fly in the U.S. EVER.

What Liberty has done, essentially, is channel thought--like a slaughterhouse channels cattle--to its death. Any move to step outside is met with taser-like authority.

The positive result of their action is actually huge, not only for the students, personally, but for the rest of the country.

In the first case, the students learned that in order to be "who they are" they must lose all personal identity and surrender it to the authority of their church. Not unlike, BTW, a number of political ideologies from communism to fascism. Certainly, not the one ideology they attack, socialism.

In the second case, it allows those of us on the outside to put our fingers more easily on WHO these people (university) are, WHAT they represent, and WHAT they are willing to do to defend their brand. It won't take words anymore, it only takes THIS case.

What I find so terribly humorous in all of this is the notion that the democrats (apparently exclusively) are socialists.

I guess there is no medical coverage (read risk pool, read socialism) for the students. They must not drive on roads paid for by a GROUP of people, which includes me... who never drives on those roads. They must not have ANY parents or siblings on disability, social security, or medicare. Obviously, none of them were in the military. They obviously don't have police or fire departments (both of which are socialism based... read collectively supported and individually used). And apparently NONE of them ever attending public schools or ate foods inspected by the FDA (actually the latter is, unfortunately, almost possible!).

Of course, realize, that federal scholarship moneys pay for this, as do other federal scholarship programs (read socialism), and while I cannot be certain of this, I suspect some professors may indeed be supported federally by receiving research grants (read socialism).

Amazing that republicans manage to avoid all these traps of terrifying socialism...

As they continue to act so incredibly stupidly, they just marginalize themselves all the more. Fine with me, actually. Marginalize yourselves into a corner.

As for ANY federal moneys in any way being channeled to this private, GOP-supporting university--whether through grants, scholarships or any other programs--they should be cut entirely. By doing so, we can free them from any and all ties to the terrible democratic socialist agenda, and free me from having to support their incredibly stupid, anti-constitutional ideas.

Lefty said...

Wow, Jordan says "the LGBT issue"...Like these people are sub-human. How is that any different than Hitler and the "Jewish Issue"? Anyways, the honorable thing to do is ban ALL political affiliations at LU. To single out one group is elitist, judgmental, and just plain wrong...but since most christians seem to excel at being elitists, and judgmental I guess this a fitting means to an end.

Nathan Empsall said...

Lefty, while I likely agree with you about gay rights, I think a good general rule of thumb is that anyone who brings Hitler into the conversation instantly loses. That was certainly the way my high school debate judges thought.

Cany, a wonderful read as always. Thank you.

James said...

Braw-voah, Nathan, very well said.

Jordan, you'll find out that the word Homosexual does not appear in the original Greek texts. In fact, the word does not appear in the OT either.

The word and the application of the word was inserted into the text by translators who decided a word unknown to scholars meant "homosexual."

Anonymous said...

This should help clear some things up for all of you following this thread. Here is the link to the official press release from Liberty's chancellor.