2013 Favs: Is Anti-Christian Bias in Academia Creating a Christian-Bashing Culture?

Academicalightbox

This video is longer than the videos I usually put up. But if you’re a Christian, you need to see it.

Dr George Yancey presents research he’s done on anti-Christian bias in academia. He is the author of Too Many Christians, Too Few Lions.

I’ve gotten emails from faculty at various universities down through the years that express the same sentiments he found among academicians in his research. Despite that, I was still a little shocked at the raw and obvious hatred in the things he uncovered.

It’s also interesting that the bias against Christians and the acceptance of hate speech directed at Christians is so accepted that he had to juxtapose it with an illustration of putting the same kind of language in sentences that were about Jews to make his point. Presumably, if he had just left the statements stand as attacks on Christians, his audience would either have thought they were funny or otherwise failed to see the problem with them.

What his research uncovered is a bias in academia, presumably mostly in higher ed, against hiring evangelical or fundamentalist Christians in the first place, and a culture where members of this intellectual elite feel free to express hate speech against Christians in writing. He also documented biased research that is designed to show that Christians are less intelligent than others, atheists in particular. He demonstrates that the research biased in how it is constructed.

One point he fails to mention is that to try to make assumptions about the intelligence of a group of people based on something like religious preference is illogical in the first place. The existence of the research itself points to a bias of some sort. The method used in this “research” to try to determine intelligence would be faulty, even if the questions themselves were not constructed to get a biased result. There’s no way that these kinds of questions can determine intelligence.

The comments on this presentation had one that was certainly familiar to me. I’ve seen this kind of claptrap a lot. Here it is:

There should be an anti-christian bias in academia

as well as an anti Go bias

or an anti stupid bias

an anti make-believe bias

etc.

In other words, yes I discriminate and I should. Academicians not only teach our young people, but they teach the future teachers of our young people. Bias of this sort in academia is a serious problem. It is an institutional means of disseminating discrimination, prejudice and hatred throughout our whole society. I believe it is one of the major reasons for the sudden increase in religious bigotry and Christian bashing in America today.

Here’s the video.

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  • Araghast

    Its an interesting presentation. Something I would have like to have seen explored is what informed the stereotypes that the surveyed academics had of evangelicals and catholic christians. I would reckon that individuals like Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, Ray Comfort, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Peter Popoff and other public figures (that openly wear the religious label of christain), alongside personal encounters in their own lives would be a core driver in why these attitudes persist.

    It can be difficult to remember that the label of christianity is not only adopted by the people above but by individuals like Kenneth Miller and Georges Lemaitre.

    • hamiltonr

      Your line of reasoning is called — among other things — blaming the victim. It’s part and parcel of discrimination, including violent discrimination, to blame the group of people on who you are focusing your hatred for your behavior.

      • Araghast

        I think a couple of clarifications are in order:

        Firstly the presentation is looking at bias attitudes towards christians (primarily evangelical, fundamentalist and catholic) in academia; the victims of this bias are primarily going to be christians who are of the above denominations who are pursuing an academic career. None of the characters i mentioned above (except for Kenneth Miller and Georges Lemaitre) are academics or pursue an academic career, and in fact don’t suffer as a result of said bias among academia.

        Secondly I the point I was making with the people mentioned above, was that i was wondering about what explains or informs the negative stereotypes that the academic groups mentioned in the presentation hold; I wasn’t, and wasn’t trying to state that the actions of the people mentioned above justified the negative stereotypes that the rest get lumped with, but that the actions of such people produced the stereotypes and attitudes that academics have and lump on the christian groups.

        The problem with stereotypes is that there is always some minor grain of truth to them. Spend enough time searching and one can no doubt find a collection of catholic, evangelicals and fundamentalists that fit the stereotype of being ignorant, intolerant and rather unsavory people. What makes a stereotype wrong is that they are not representative: They are caricatures based on a small sample size.

        I don’t support the idea of culturally profiling people (which is what I call it when someone is being judged based off of the culture or religion they subscribe to). I’m sorry if I gave you that impression.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    When has there not been? Not in my lifetime!

  • Bryant

    George Yancey’s work has always been insightful. Thank you for this post.

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    Is water wet? Much the worst display of religious hatred ever visited on me (don’t worry, I can hold my own) was by a woman who claimed to work in the University of Texas – a public body, I imagine funded by taxpayers, in a state not known for its secularism. And then there is my experience at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, that left me with a degree and a convinction that there was nothing wrong with the place that a few dozen tons of dynamite could not fix. I think the degeneration of the universities has got to the point where nothing can be done to reverse it. That includes most so-called Catholic bodies. And it has been going on for a long time. The founders of Italy’s terrorist Red Brigades were all alumni of the CAtholic Universities of Milan and Trento (Sacred Heart). They went straight from classroom to underground violence.

    • hamiltonr

      Thank you for sharing this Fabio.

  • vox borealis

    I work in academia. There is most certainly anti-Christian bias, and especially anti-Catholic bias. When I was hired, I mentioned to a member of the search committee whom I knew was Catholic that I too was Catholic; he was happy, but then told me not to say anything else, because if anyone else heard, I would not be hired. I was later counselled not to do anything publicly with the Catholic Studies program (an actual academic unit in the university!) or the Newman Center before I had tenure.

    I have heard all manner of bigoted comments. Even worse, colleagues trot out to impressionable students the most ridiculous, old anti-Catholic anecdotes, e.g. stories,always unverified, of “archaeologists” finding tunnels between medieval seminaries and convents filled with the bones of aborted babies, the offspring of priests/seminarians and nuns…or the one about meatless Friday being a scam invented in the middle ages because the pope owned a fishing boat, or his brother was involved in the fis trade, or whatever variant. A sort of mix between reformation era anti-Catholic pamphlets and modern day Jack Chick tracts. Absolutely scandalous. And these are supposedly the academic and intellectual elite.

    Should I bother to tell what party they vote for overwhelmingly?

  • Eve Fisher

    I’m sorry, but I’m a retired history professor who was and is an openly avowed Christian, and I did not experience an anti-Christian bias. I did have to defend my beliefs, argue my beliefs, but I expected this. Every one else had to do the same. That’s half the fun of working in academia, to discuss and argue with intelligent people who will call you on it when your thinking gets sloppy. It hones the mind. It hones the beliefs, as well.

    The real problem came from people, of whatever belief or non-belief system, who expected everyone to not only accept them but agree with them. Who, after saying something incendiary (“God hates fags”, “God is a jerk and you’re a moron for believing”) then expected everyone to just take it/agree with it, and if not, then they claimed bias and prejudice and persecution. Nonsense.

    The other issue is that I think people are confusing the apparent “godlessness” of universities with the fact that the teens and early 20s are when young people question everything around them and toss out (at least temporarily) a lot. They read history and philosophy etc., in depth for the first time and run across questions that no one has ever raised around them before. Yes, sometimes they question their faith, even apparently lose it – but I worried far more about the students who could quite calmly declare the Holocaust God’s will than the ones who came to my office asking, “How could God let the Holocaust happen?” The latter were thinking, doubting, feeling, breathing, loving – there was something to work with. And their faith would be stronger for this passage.

    This is an old, old panic button. Yale was founded because in 1718, Harvard had become too liberal in the eyes of Increase Mather.

  • Luv_Eclair

    Thanks for posting this. It affirms both what I had experienced in working with academics in my younger life, and the increasing number of absurd and vitriolic writings and comments coming from the “educated” on the internet in more recent years. I very much look forward to reading his book.

  • James1225

    “western civilization is in a sorry state. It’s time people and especially students challenged the system, at least at the colleges.”

    My son is in college, and what I hope he is there for is to receive an education in worldly matters and not waste his time disputing the college’s approach to other worldly matters. There is a bias against the latter because parents are not sending their children there for their spiritual growth.

  • http://anonatheist.wordpress.com/ Mike Hunt

    I’m going to parrot the comments you mentioned were on the presentation. Of course in academia there should be a bias against those with religious beliefs. It’s simple, the more religious you are the more reality impaired you are. Believe in demons? Immaculate conception? Heaven? Hell? Miracles? The more strongly you believe in these things, the more you are out of touch with reality. You simply shouldn’t be put in a position of teaching any subject other than theocracy. I happily discriminate against those who are reality impaired.

    • Luv_Eclair

      Not all that long ago, “science” disbelieved in many things that we couldn’t see with the naked eye. Our discovery of tinier and tinier things (and even more evasive, Forces) marches on, and who could’ve believed some of these discoveries even 50 years ago? (Here is a simple physics example, http://atomiumculture.eu/content/beyond-ordinary-matter-0) You’re condemning people over things you can’t see. Perhaps they see more than you (I know I for one have).

  • Luv_Eclair

    I remembered this post and hadn’t written down the book’s name down. I went looking for it, but didn’t find the title. Did he change it, and is it this one:

    “Dehumanizing Christians: Cultural Competition in a Multicultural World.” It came out in Dec, 2013.


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