Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pre-Christmas Reading

Here are some things I've been looking at recently:

1) David Brooks intuits communitarianism in a Jewish paradigm - very good - here
2) One and a half cheers for "Two Cheers for Nature" an article by David Barash - here (He makes a number of category mistakes himself; for instance by confusing the Catholic natural law view as equivealent to the nature is good claim...)
3) A mistitled but nonetheless decently argued piece about Downs Syndrome persons - here
4) Regarding gnosticism: is it the same thing under different historical forms? A review of the multi-volume series of works by Cyril O'Regan broaches the question - here
5) John Milbank: on the unjustly maligned Big Society, statism, toryism, distributism, welfare, charity, socialism, third ways, etc. etc. - broad strokes - in the inimitable Milbank style - here.

Enjoy. Merry Christmas

Friday, December 3, 2010

Academic Freedom Turns to Religious Persecution

It's quite the op-ed title (by Peter Stockland of the Cardus Centre, printed in the Vancouver Sun, copied here) but it's pretty accurate insofar as the campaign launched by the Canadian Association of University Teachers is concerned. This organization is a faculty union that is known for its griping and whinging more than anything else.

In recent months, it has moved against small religiously affiliated colleges in Canada, targeting those which attach a 'faith test' as a condition of employment for faculty members. The 'faith tests' spoken about in its campign are likely diverse, but the one that got attention last year if memory serves me correctly was the requirement by Trinity Western University in B.C., where faculty are required to sign some sort of creedal statement upon (or shortly after) hiring.

Well, the latest target is the Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, as detailed here in this article from the CAUT house organ. There is also a link from this article to the actual report conducted by two faculty on behalf of CAUT into the situation of academic freedom at CMU. From that report, on can glean that the CMU actually wants to retain or (hold your breath) strengthen its Christian identity as an educational institution. Just imagine, those uppity Mennonites actually succeeding in this diabolical plot.

Well, you can see for yourself, but the bottom line is that CAUT is pushing a militant secularism on academia, particularly by calling into question (discussed in the article) agreements between colleges like CMU and larger secular universities. You see where this is heading, don't you...

From the article:
The report also recommended that CAUT formulate a policy statement to deal with protecting academic freedom for instances where an institution that does guarantee academic freedom has, or plans to have, joint academic programs or other academic relations with an institution that does not. 
 So, in other words, CAUT wants to deliberately isolate Christian colleges, and slowly squeeze them out, deny those insitutions the accreditation and affiliation credentials that those colleges need to promote their own programmes for the many thousands of students who attend those colleges and who then want to move on to other programmes elsewhere later with their college degree in hand. (Maybe CAUT sees Christian colleges attracting all these good students and enviously wants to find a way to get them into the universities instead, or is that tooooo machiavellian. I digress..)

Will those college degrees be recognized under conditions in which universities are relinquishing association with those colleges - on the limp excuse of protecting academic freedom? It is now a question.

Will universities be bullied by CAUT into shoving these colleges aside? Odds are, yes, sadly, in some cases.

Now, I don't think faith statements are a good way to promote the Christian identity of an educational institution. But, I do think that institutions who believe otherwise should be free to do so without being bullied into the sidelines by a bunch of elitist secularist faculty bureaucrats who think they know better.
Insidious, that's what this CAUT campiagn is. It should be stopped.

As I said, Peter Stockland of the Cardus Centre has put the issue into perspective here. Let's see where this goes.