Category: Academic Freedom


Gordon College, a Christian liberal arts institution in Massachusetts–ironically, the original American colony founded to preserve and protect religious freedom, has been threatened with loss of its regional accreditation for not allowing “sexual relations outside of marriage” and “homosexual practice.” Its regional accreditation body, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, is no longer hiding its role as an agent of secularism and its hostility toward any higher education institution that actually takes Christian ethics and beliefs seriously.

According to the blog, Stands to Reason,

“Gordon College has been given 18 months to recant. If they do not change the standards for sexual behavior in their “life and conduct statement” (which prohibit “sexual relations outside of marriage” and “homosexual practice”), they will lose their accreditation*:

The higher education commission of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges met last week and “considered whether Gordon College’s traditional inclusion of ‘homosexual practice’ as a forbidden activity” runs afoul of the commission’s standards for accreditation, according to a joint statement from NEASC and Gordon College.

The commission asked Gordon College to submit a report next September. The report should describe the process by which the college has approached its review of the policy “to ensure that the College’s policies and procedures are non-discriminatory,” the statement said….

In its joint statement, NEASC and Gordon College called the review process a “period of discernment” that will take place over the next 12 to 18 months…. [The president of NEASC’s higher education commission] said the long time frame that Gordon College has been allowed for the review is appropriate considering that Gordon College’s policy is “deeply embedded in the culture of the college” and such things “don’t change overnight.”

How reasonable of the commission to give Gordon College 18 months to come to terms with overturning the thousands-of-years-old Christian view of acceptable sexual behavior.

This 18-month reprieve is nothing but theater, of course. Gordon College will not convince the commission their standards are “non-discriminatory.” Gordon College will explain the difference between behavior and identity, between a person with same-sex attractions who agrees with the biblical standards and one who doesn’t, and the difference between banning a person because of his sexual orientation and banning particular behaviors among all students that go against the biblical view. And then the commission will reject it.

How do I know this? Because this is what happened earlier this year when Gordon College publicly argued for the “right of faith-based institutions to set and adhere to standards which derive from our shared framework of faith.” That controversy ended with the termination of their city contract to maintain Salem’s historical Old Town Hall and their student teachers being removed from public schools.

This assault on Christian higher education was launched earlier this year by Peter Conn in the Chronicle for Higher Education.  So this latest action from NEASC is the logical extension of this kind of liberal hegemony against all things Christian. First Amendment–and multiculturalism–be damned.

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Luke Sheahan, a professor at the Catholic University of America, has written an article (Humanitas, Vol. XXV, Nos. 1 & 2, 2012, pp. 44-65) outlining two different approaches to academic freedom, one articulated by Russell Kirk, author of The Conservative Mind (1953) and the other following William F. Buckley, one of conservatism’s more articulate firebrands and author of God and Man at Yale (1951). The comparison is instructive on how conservatives remains divided: one side embraces power (just like liberals), only for use in opposition to its arch political antagonist; the other embraces the idealism inherent in rationalism (just like liberalism), without recognizing that deeply engrained cultural practices often/usually trump the most noble ideas (and ideals). Sheahan sums up the differences between their positions this way:

“The primary difference between Kirk and Buckley is that Buckley sees in academic freedom only a dissembling mechanism used effectively by the left and the irreligious to conceal the true power struggles in academia. Hence he argues that conservatives must tear the mask off that struggle and assert their own power.  Kirk defends the pursuit of what is higher in human life than base material existence, including temporal power in the academy. It is possible for an institution to protect the search for thruth for its porfessors as Guardians of the Word.  Kirk does not deny that many professors use academic freedom to cover their own indoctrination efforts just as Buckley decries. But all that is not naked power is not necessarily dissembling rhetoric.  There can be a place where the mind and the higher imagination are cultivated in a spirit of prescriptive freedom, where a community of scholars pursues truth in its particular manifestation without hindrance. This is the dignity of the academy that is inherited from humanity’s long search for truth, and it still enlivens the philosophers in its midst. This is Russell Kirk’s conservative vision for academic freedom.”

For Sheahan’s full article, click here.

Thx:  Micah Matix/Prufrock