What Liberty University can teach Elite Colleges and Universities

A few weeks ago my facebook feed was somewhat abuzz with the fact that Senator Bernie Sanders was speaking at Liberty University. Yes, that Bernie Sanders, self-described socialist, speaking at that Liberty University, the education institution founded by the man who started the Moral Majority. It was not a news event I ever anticipated occurring. Even though I am a Christian, like many people I had stereotypes about the narrowmindedness of Christian colleges and did not consider that one as conservative as Liberty University would require its students to listen to a socialist.

I will spend the bulk of this blog discussing the implications of Liberty University’s decision. However, I first want to compliment the senator. It is not easy to speak in front of an audience who deeply disagrees with you. He probably did not gain one extra vote from a Liberty student by his talk. But he is committed to his vision of a better society and willing to go places where he does not have an admiring crowd. I give sincere kudos to Senator Sanders and if more of us would be willing to try to communicate with those we disagree with, then we would have a better society.

However, the senator would not be able to speak before the students if Liberty had not invited him to do so. Furthermore, the actions of the students were commendable. Most of them disagreed with most of what the Senator had to say. But they let him say it, and they treated him with respect. There was no protest. There was no attempt to shout the Senator down. No, they did not give him enthusiastic applause. But we do not have to agree with someone to give him/her the right to tell us his/her ideas. He was allowed to inform them of his ideas, and they did not interrupt him.

I cannot help but compare this event to what happens so often when unpopular speakers come to many of our state and elite campuses. There are a wide variety of incidents that illustrates the unwillingness of students and faculty on those campuses to allow for such free speech. Perhaps a striking example is when students at the University of California at Berkeley protested the commencement speech by Bill Maher. The political distance between Senator Sanders and the average Liberty University student has to be much greater than between Maher and these progressive students. However, Maher has been highly critical of Islam and in doing so, broke one of the tenets embedded in Education Dogma. For certain students this meant that he should not be allowed to address other students, even though he likely agreed with them on most other subjects. Contrast this reaction to the politeness shown the Senator by the students at Liberty. Consideration and tolerance was found at the Christian school instead of the place where the modern free speech movement originated.

At least in this situation, the University of California stood by Maher and let him give his speech. Christine Lagarde, Robert Birgeneau and Condoleessa Rice were all invited to speak and then later disinvited, or withdrew due to pressure, from delivering their commencement address. The reasons given may vary, but essentially students and faculty members protested these speakers and the administration caved to their demands. Colleges and university are supposed to be places where we encounter different ideas. But influential segments on many campuses do not want graduating students, who should be fully prepared for dealing with different ideas, to hear alternative opinions. This type of censoring is not even including the type of silencing that comes from mechanisms such as safe spaces and trigger warnings. Whereas Liberty University brought different ideas directly to their campus, it seems that many of our highly esteemed colleges and universities work hard to keep them out.

What is ironic is that Christian schools such as Liberty University are typically stereotyped as being unwilling to consider alternate points of view. As I stated earlier, I have bought into those stereotypes. One blogger argues that Christian colleges should not be accredited because they do not allow for intellectual freedom. I am certain that this blogger would put Liberty University squarely in the “do not accreditate” category even though Liberty appears to better prepare its students to hear opposing opinions than the University of California. Accreditation is important for helping an institution of higher education serve its students, and this stereotype can have important implications for the freedom of Christian colleges.

While I have heard this stereotype many times, the incident at Liberty helped me realize that I have yet to see any empirical evidence that supports it. I know in theory nonreligious colleges and universities should be free to pursue whatever ideas academics come up with. In reality, there is a culture of conformity that inhibits the freedom of academics to pursue all ideas. Sociology of science is a subset of epistemology exploring how science is not an objective search for truth, but that search is influenced by the social and psychological pressures placed on the scientist. For example, Thomas Kuhn’s work suggests that scholars operate in an ideological paradigm that provides them the answers to the questions they study before they even analyze the data. In a similar way, there are paradigms on our non-sectarian campuses that provide answers to questions before we have even fully asked the question. This type of social, and sometimes even institutional, pressure can be just as limiting to academic freedom as the theological doctrines commonly found at Christian educational institutions.

I am starting to believe that non-Christian colleges are at least as narrow-minded in their epistemological approach as Christian schools. When I did research on academic bias, I found that about half of all academics are willing to discriminate against conservative Protestants when they apply for an academic position. Clearly, limiting the ability of individuals from a given social group to participate in academia can serve to limit the scholarly ideas from that group. This is a clear violation of the academic freedom allegedly not found at Christian colleges. When I went back to my data and looked to see if those at Christian colleges are more unwilling to exclude non-Christians from their jobs, I found that the degree of exclusion was about the same as their non-religious counterparts. I did not see evidence that Christian educational institutions were more restrictive in their willingness to hire than non-Christians, despite the doctrine requirements that undoubtedly are part of their hiring process. Looking at who academics are willing to hire, I do not have empirical reasons to think that there is more academic freedom at non-sectarian educational institutions than sectarian ones.

To be fair, I have heard some students complain that they are not free to start progressive political or sexual minority student organizations on Christian campuses. I take them at their word and am willing to believe that some Christian educational institutions restrict the type of student organizations allowed on campus. A few years ago, this would have been a killer argument for pronouncing Christian colleges and universities as intolerant. But lately some non-sectarian educational institutions have found a way to deregister Christian groups from their campuses. If Christian groups do not open up their leadership to non-Christians, then they are not allowed to be official student organizations. It is not only Christian schools that unfairly restrict student organizations, and I suspect that we will see more non-sectarian schools employ these tactics in the coming years. Ironically, many who attempt to defend such “all-comers” policy would be quick to argue that prohibiting progressive students at Christian colleges to start their own organizations is evidence of intolerance.

I am not arguing that Christian colleges are more open to alternate ideas than other educational institutions. I am arguing that we do not have any empirical evidence to state that this is not the case. The perception that religious institutions value intellectual diversity less than other types of institutions is based more upon prejudices and confirmation bias than actual systematic research. I am certain that individuals will produce personal stories about the intolerance they have experienced at the hands of Christians at sectarian educational institutions. But such anecdotal accounts are not the sort of scientific evidence needed to justify removal of accreditation or the stereotypes that I have, until recently, accepted myself. There are many Christians who can also tell stories of intolerance experiences at elite and/or state schools as well. What is needed is the type of academic research where we can properly test the degree of ideological intolerance that we may find on both types of campuses. Without such scientific research to document that there are higher levels of intolerance at Christian campuses, we run the risk of supporting one type of intolerance while ignoring other manifestations of this problem.

When I heard of Senator Sanders speaking at Liberty University and the way students treated him, one of my first reactions was that students in many of our elite institutions have something to learn from Liberty students. Our progressive open-minded liberal students from elite schools have something to learn about political tolerance from the “intolerant” Christians at Liberty. Soon afterward I became acquainted with a professor who works at Liberty. She informed me that the university has a tradition of inviting progressive speakers to the campus. She told me that, when he was alive, Ted Kennedy had spoken on campus more than once. She informed me that the philosophy at Liberty is to foster a politically conservative environment, but one where their students are exposed to ideas from a variety of sources. Oh that we would see this at non-sectarian schools with a more progressive agenda. Despite the common stereotype that colleges like Liberty are a cocoon protecting students from non-Christian, non-conservative ideas, it seems plausible that their philosophy does the opposite. In light of the actions of Liberty University in regards to Sanders and University of California in regards to Maher, perhaps it is time to retire this stereotype – at least until we gain empirical evidence supporting it.

Is Forgiveness a Secular Value?

Over the past few years I have heard some Christian apologetic speakers make a fascinating argument about secular societies. They argued that these societies have borrowed much of their morality from the previous Judeo-Christian culture from which they emerged. For example, a value of honesty is not based on a secular understanding of reality but because it has been rooted in the Judeo-Christian history, individuals in secular societies still appreciate honesty as much as when they lived in a religious culture. This argument implies that it will take quite a long time for us to see what sort of moral values are truly connected to a culture devoid of religion. I do not pretend to know exactly what that culture will look like. Truly secular societies are relatively new in our global society, and it is too early to know all of the consequences of a secular society. But with some speculation, it might be possible to get a preview of some values that may emerge in a secular world.

So I will predict one value that may develop over time and has already begun to surface in our society. I do this with the necessary caveat that social scientists often make lousy forecasters. However, it can be an interesting and useful exercise to consider the potential implications of a society without religious legitimation. Looking at a few social science studies and considering the ramifications of a secular philosophy may help us to anticipate what may happen in secular places like Europe and Canada and what might happen if those advocating secularization theory are right about the United States.

In the past, I have blogged about the lack of forgiveness in my society. When I first blogged about that, it did not occur to me that this may be linked to our growing secularization. However, as I consider the implications of a less religious society, it has occurred to me that what I was observing in the lack of forgiveness was consistent with the new attitudes that have developed in a secular ideology. Thus, one potential value that may change over time as we become more secular is a movement away from forgiveness and towards an expectation of performance. I struggle to find a good term for this and after a time decided on the term “mercilessness.” It is not a perfect term as there is an implication of cruelty that I do not wish to make. However, this term does explain the unwillingness to forgive that I do wish to enunciate. I am open to a better term, but for the remainder of this blog entry, I will use mercilessness as the description of this new secular value.

To see if forgiveness is compatible with a secular society, it is useful to see if there is a difference of willingness to forgive on an individual level. I did not want to do an extensive assessment of all available research on this research question but there are some studies indicating that religious individuals are more forgiving than secular individuals. I am open to being shown other research to the contrary, but it does not surprise me that the religious are more forgiving as I consider forgiveness to be a more innate quality for people of faith. There may be other religious systems where forgiveness is not seen as salient as it is in an evangelical Christian framework and I cannot speak for them. But there is a powerful motivation to forgive within Christianity. In my faith tradition, there is an emphasis on introspection and grace that naturally leads to a value of forgiveness. Of course this is not to say that all of us, or even myself, are perfect in implementing that value. Ironically, if we were perfect in implementing any of our values, we probably would not need to be forgiven.

I do not perceive forgiveness an important part of secular ideology is because it is based on the notion that humans are perfectible. So if humans are perfectible, then we must ask why we are we not perfect? The answer depends on what variation of secular ideology one accepts. Marxists envision class issues as corrupting the human spirit while feminists see the culprit as patriarchal values. And of course other variations of secular ideology will locate other possible barriers to human perfectibility. But the key common component is that humans are perfectible, or at least can become close to perfect, and thus in secular ideology, we must make an effort to obtain perfectibility. This creates little tolerance for those that are not towing the line of how humans should act. Society must change to support the new ideal human. Those who do not head towards that new ideal should face sanctions that encourage them to head towards that ideal. The sanctions would not only influence those individuals to act in an acceptable manner but would serve as a warning to others who may be future violators of the required norms.

This is where mercilessness comes into play as forgiveness can interfere with our ability to apply those sanctions with sufficient force. I have heard secular individuals complain about individuals who seek forgiveness after being caught in a transgression. They complain that this is an easy way out and, more importantly, that it allows people to continue to do what is wrong. I think this interpretation misses the point of what true repentance is about but that is not surprising since such individuals looking at the value of forgiveness from outside our faith likely lack the context of what is meant by repentance and forgiveness. But this attitude is reflective of how to handle shortcomings when using a value of mercilessness. People must be punished and ostracized so that we have sanctions that are powerful enough to allow the emergence of our ideal society. Forgiving those individuals weakens the sanctions and gets in the way of their effectiveness.

It is an important moral question on whether forgiveness or mercilessness should be the higher priority in our society. Like any value, there is a downside to forgiveness when it is misused. There have been times when we have forgiven others before it was even asked by them. In those situations there is no real repentance and little chance for the person to learn from what they did wrong. And then there is the tendency to forgive those we like or agree with more readily than those we do not like or agree with. In that case, forgiveness merely becomes another weapon to use in intergroup conflict. As much as forgiveness is part of my belief system, I recognize that it is not a panacea nor is it a value that cannot be abused. The abuse of forgiveness is why there is a certain appeal for mercilessness to correct these externalities.

While there are times where forgiveness gets in the way of what is needed in our society, I am not sure if we want to live in a society where forgiveness is not easily available. Consider how easy it is to be in trouble today. If we do wrong when we are young, then that can cost us a job many years later. Ask Josh Dugger. If we make a bad joke, we can lose our current status. Ask Martin Brashir. If we get in a fight with our daughter and say awful things it can cost us our reputation. Ask Alex Baldwin. In no way am I defending the actions of these men (or woman like Paula Dean). And of course when we are caught doing wrong once, we should be watched more carefully to see if we have truly repented. This justifies continual criticism of Dugger and Baldwin who are multiple offenders. But let us be honest and stipulate that there are those who will never offer forgiveness after the first transgression as they subscribe to a type of mercilessness that discounts any relief from punishment. And I wonder if people must pay for the rest of their lives because of a past failing?

It is so tempting to condemn individuals who have done admittedly horrible stuff. But, here is the question we should ask ourselves. What if the moment you did the worst thing you ever did, or said the worst thing you ever said, was caught on a camera and then played for the entire world to see? Would that action or that statement be as bad as some of the actions alluded to in the previous paragraph? Should you lose your job and be treated as a leper the rest of your life because of that action or statement? I am guessing most of us would be very ashamed to have the worst moment of our lives recorded for the entire world to see. Most of us would want to be forgiven for that transgression. As a Christian I know that I enjoy a grace I do not deserve and have been forgiven for my transgressions against God and against others. So while I want to be careful not to misuse the value of forgiveness, I know that it is something I should not withhold from those who honestly repent and truly seek it from me.

So I do mourn the loss of that quality in our society. Perfectibility demands perfection and if our society is going to become more secular, then I envision a loss of an ability to forgive as one of the costs of that transition. But I do not know if we really consider how much it costs our society. We might think that if we are not caught on camera engaging in an awful act or saying something terrible, that we will be alright. But already I am catching myself being extra careful in what I say and how I say it. Even as I write my blogs I am very careful in how I express my ideas (I am certain that one day someone will pull a statement out of context to make me seem like a monster. That is one of the reasons why I use qualifiers in my writing). For some individuals, that may be pleasing in that I am kept in line with the current orthodoxy. But something great is lost. As an academic, I know how to write for scholarly journals and books. One must be careful to frame assertions with the proper qualifiers and passivity to allow precision in one’s arguments. However, I have also written Christian books where I can be more personable and am free to make stronger assertions in my language. The freedom I gain when writing to non-academics is part of what is lost when I feel the need to be so careful with my language that I cannot be truly myself in public. In a merciless society, we will see individuals work harder at managing their self-presentation, and it will be more difficult for us to get to know them on an intimate level because they will be afraid to show others aspects of themselves for which they will not be forgiven.

In some ways, this trend is a paradox. For years, I have heard how judgmental and how intolerant Christians are to those who do not follow Christian morals. Naturally, I do not deny that there are some judgmental Christians. I still remember, soon after I became a Christian, talking with those who seemed way too concerned that I dared to go to dance clubs or listened to rock music. Yet, in the past few years, I have seen a great deal more judgment come from non-Christian segments of society. Dare not affirm one of the tenets within education dogma and you will be stigmitized as Islamophobic, homophobic, racist, sexist or whatever the new “ist” or “phobic” is today. Engage in the wrong microaggression and prepare to be stigmatized. As bad as I have seen in some Christians as it concerns being judged, I never felt as on guard as I am today around certain secular individuals. And it is not just myself who feels this way. Many individuals understand that perfection is to be expected from those who have some degree of status.

Once again I understand that many individuals want a society where we are “on guard.” Perhaps such fear will make us better citizens. There is an argument that we should be merciless against certain social evils. I really am not trying to make a strong argument against this perspective. Indeed, if I were more secular I might want to have this perspective. I might not have the values of forgiveness and grace my faith has provided for me. I could see why I would want to make sure we have the proper social sanctions to produce whatever my idea of a utopian society is at that current time. So while my preference is for a society where we understand human frailties and shortcomings, I understand why others feel we need to punish those who do not measure up. I understand why the value of mercilessness is so desirable. But it simply is not the sort of society I want.

This has been an interesting thought experiment as to what a truly secular value system may look like. If mercilessness is, as I believe it to be, a value tied to a secular society then we should see more of this quality emerge if the percentage of irreligious individuals continues to increase. I do not know what other values might become part of a secular moral system. I envision mercilessness as an early precursor of other possible secular values. It would be fascinating, and useful, to consider what those values are as well as consider if this is the sort of society we want to have.

Introducing Heterodox

Okay I know this is a bit on the lazy side. But trust me that I will have a controversial post here soon. In the meantime I just want to introduce you to Heterodox. It is part of a group that I have joined to help deal with the lack of political diversity in academia. This is not just about taking on the PC crowd. There is an atmosphere in academia that stifles rational inquiry. So I am proud to be part of this group and if this is an issue that is important to you then please come check it out. Okay the next post will have more meat on it and drive some of you crazy. I will have to do that to maintain my reputation.

Myths of Christianophobia Part 4 – Christians Deserve it

This is my last post dealing with the myths concerning Christianophobia. In the first blog of this series I dealt with the myth that Christianophobia does not exist. In my second blog, I addressed the myth that Christianophobia is an indicator that Christians are being persecuted in the United States. For the third blog, I looked at the myth that Christianophobia is merely about the loss of Christian privilege. In this last entry of the series I will look at the myth that Christianophobia has emerged because Christians deserve it.

In some ways this may be the most difficult myth to address. It is the sort of myth that cannot be dispelled with only logic and research. It depends on a sense of fairness from those who hold onto this myth. Sometimes events have occurred in our lives that make such fairness very difficult to achieve. For example, if a white man was accosted by several African-Americans he may afterwards believe that African-Americans are a bunch of savages and should be treated as such. I can show that white person all sorts of data indicating that after social and economic controls that blacks are no more violent than those of other races. I can argue with that person about the moral inadequacy of promoting a racist view. But emotionally that man may never get there and will hold onto his beliefs about how blacks should be treated.

Likewise, there are certainly individuals who have had negative encounters with Christians. Those encounters may have had such a damaging emotional impact that it is very difficult for them to consider what most people would envision as a fair treatment. Nothing I say can overcome this sort of emotional baggage. I honestly hope that they, and the man who was attacked by blacks, seek out the type of counseling and help needed to overcome their perceptions. I state that as an honest, and not pejorative, statement. Holding on to old hatreds and anger is a big source of ill mental health. It is much healthier to work through our emotions towards those who have legitimately harmed us rather than retain our bitterness towards them but, we live in a confrontational society that does not encourage such steps towards wholeness. So I do not write to convince someone with those emotional walls as I fear they have larger personal issues to address.

Before I explore components of Christianophobia, I would be negligent to assume that everyone knows about my research. My respondents’ comments, which you can read in more depth in So Many Christians, So Few Lions, were collected from a sample of cultural progressive activists who were members of organizations that have as part of their purpose opposition to the Christian or religious right. The respondents answered an online survey of closed and open ended questions. It is a qualitative sample that I used to help flesh out the quantitative results from a probability sample. How I operationalized Christianophobia in that sample can be seen in an earlier blog.

As I look at whether Christianophobia is deserved or not I also do not want to go after low hanging fruit. Many respondents made atrocious statements such as feeding Christians to lions or blowing up churches. I think it does not have to be stipulated that right thinking people do not agree with such statements (however, if you do think that feeding Christians to lions is a good thing then once again seek counseling). Using such statements to talk about those with Christianophobia is as fair as using the Westboro Baptist nuts to talk about Christianity or terrorists to talk about Islam. We can talk about how such religions might create an atmosphere where such sentiments can develop, but to paint all of those in such faiths with the stigma richly deserved by extremists does not say much about the mainstream ideology in these religions. (However, it should be noted that these extreme views are not rare among Christianophobes and you can even purchase a t-shirt celebrating your desire to torture Christians to death.) Likewise, I intend on addressing central elements of Christianophobia rather than extreme statements. The components that I argue are morally unfair will be ideas that many, if not most, individuals with Christianophobia readily accept.

One of the key beliefs of Christianophobia is the fear that Christians are setting up a theocracy. I dealt with the illogical nature of such a claim in the first blog in this series. But I also recognize that because of such a belief there are efforts by those with Christianophobia to remove conservative Christians from the public square. This desire was quite common among the respondents in my research.

I see religion as a personal matter that has no place in the public square let alone in the halls of congress, the halls of justice, or in the various departments of government. (Male, aged 46-55 with Master degree)

Keep all religion in your church, in your home, out of the public square, and most of all, out of my face. (Male, aged 56-65 with some college)

Deeply suspicious of their intent and hypocritical, self-righteousness. Intrusive into the public square and intent on subverting the constitution. (Male, aged 56-65 with Bachelor degree)

The calculus is quite simple. Conservative Christians are seen as a threat to move our society back to the dark ages. To stop them intelligent, progressive citizens have to keep Christians out of the public square. Christians cannot be allowed to influence others in the public square. Christians cannot have influence in government, education, media or any other dimension where they may shape popular societal opinion. There is a perception among many with Christianophobia that most Christians are dumb followers being misled by corrupt leaders. My respondents indicated a desire to limit the impact of these evil leaders and keep them from influencing more naïve Christians. Keeping Christian influence out of the public square is seen as the way to limit the impact of Christianity and of these manipulative leaders.

So if Christians are supposed to stay out of the public square then, what are they allowed to do in society? I have mentioned before that direct oppression that can be linked to religious bigotry is generally not advocated by those with Christianophobia. I suspect that this would create cognitive dissonance if they tried to directly punish conservative Christians for being Christians. However, this desire to avoid being seen as bigoted is coupled with the desire to keep Christians out of the public square. This has led to a common assertion about the place for Christians in our society.

Christian Right people can do what they want in their churches and homes, but not in the public arena. (Female, aged 66-75 with Bachelor degree)

Keep your religion at home and in your church. Why oh why isn’t that enough?!? (Male, aged 36-45 with some graduate school)

If they want to be crazy in their own homes and not bother me, then I wouldn’t mind. (Male, aged 26-35 with Master degree)

Christians are allowed to be Christians in their homes and their churches. But in no other place in society are they to live out their Christian values and ideals. Not in their businesses, their politics, their education or any other dimension outside of churches and homes are Christians to use their faith to influence their actions. Christians can keep those with Christianophobia satisfied by staying in their families and churches while leaving the rest of society for the “rational” individuals to run.

This is the ideology within Christianophobia that I want to assess for “fairness.” This ideology is at the core of the motivation for many with Christianophobia. This is not the extreme comment of a sick fanatic who fantasizes about feeding Christians to lions. The comments of my respondents indicate that this belief of stupid followers of wicked leaders who must be kept from the public square by restricting them to their church and family was the rule, and not the exception, to how those with Christianophobia think. Of course there are other aspects of Christianophobia not captured by this statement, such as the dehumanization of Christians or valuation of science, but the preceding sentence incorporates the basic legitimation structure of Christianophobia. So as I critique this philosophy I am critiquing a core of Christianophobic thought.

Perhaps the easiest way to illustrate the problem of this ideology is by placing different groups as the subject of this treatment. What if we stated that feminists should only keep their philosophy in their homes and their feminist organizations? What if we stated that LGBT activists should keep their philosophy in their homes and activist organizations? What about socialists, gun rights enthusiasts, environmentalists, civil rights activists, those concerned with animal rights or labor unionists? One may say that these individuals are not basing their assertion in religion and thus have a right to the public square. But when did we decide in our society that religious individuals have fewer rights than other individuals. Does having a faith mean that one must now be silent on political and social issues in our society?

Now we begin to see the real problem of the philosophy driving Christianophobia. Purporting to be religiously neutral it is instead highly religiously biased. It is not lost on me that although philosophically the barriers to public square interaction are supposed to apply to all religions that there is a tremendous focus on certain Christian groups. None of my respondents indicated hesitation to support political action from Christian progressives such as Al Sharpton or Jim Wallis. Only Christian conservatives are deemed unworthy to participate in our public square. The attempt to eliminate them from the public square fails the argument of fairness. Of course individuals should be, and are, free to criticize the public and social programs offered by conservative Christians. However to suggest that conservative Christians do not have the right to argue in the public square while this right is reserved for other Christians, those of other faiths and those of no faith is the very definition of unfairness. It is treating a group one does not like in a way that one would not treat others. Contrary to the myth, conservative Christians do not deserve to be treated in that way anymore than other social groups.

However, some will argue that Christians are being treated differently because they have brought this upon themselves with their intolerance and unwilling to allow others to express themselves. Of course those individuals do not seem to be concerned about the intolerance of a city’s council attempt to remove a business because they do not like the beliefs of the business’s owner. They also do not seem motivated to penalize a social movement that at times attempts to physically silence those that disagree with them. No one is arguing that the groups connected to these illiberal actions should be barred from the public square. Indeed, all social groups and movements have individuals who act in an unbearable manner. To single out conservative Christians for removal from the public square because of their worst offenders is unfair and undeserved for the vast majority of conservative Christians. I suspect that such singling out is due more to disagreement with Christian tenets than to any systematic assessment that Christians are qualitatively worse actors than those in other social movements.

I acknowledged that some individuals are emotionally preordained to not accept arguments that Christians can be unfairly treated. Even though these individuals have these emotional motivations, I am still obligated to make the logical observation that if Americans are supposed to have equal access to the public square then that access should not be taken away because one does not like what a group advocates. It is not adequate to seek to remove individuals from the public square because we do not like them. It is not fair. Fairness is debating individuals in the public square instead of excommunicating them from it. I can respect that some individuals are emotionally inhibited to accept this notion of fairness when directed at Christians, but I am not going to let these perceptions be used to justify religious bigotry without challenge. Decisions on how groups should be treated should not mostly rest on the opinions of those with unpleasant encounters with those groups. Instead, rational assessment on what is a fair treatment must be the strongest factor in determining such treatment.

I have found that a desire to remove Christians from the public square, and not merely disagree with them, is tied to the worst excesses of Christianophobia. I have touched on some of these excesses in previous blogs. For example, I pointed out in my first blog of this series that a powerful academic bias against conservative Christians exists (If you do not think it does exists then look at the evidence I discussed in a previous blog. If you argue in the comments that such bias is nonexistent and you have not read that blog then do not expect me to respect your arguments.) Christianophobia predicts, accurately in my opinion, that this unfairness is motivated by a desire to keep Christian ideas out of academic discourse. If we believe that people should be treated equally then we have to see the myth that conservative Christians deserve mistreatment in academia as a false moral claim. Only if someone accepts the idea that Christians deserve to be excluded from the public square due to their particular religious beliefs can we accept the notion that Christians deserve Christianophobia.