This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published May 4, 2016 by American Thinker.
In the warped world of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), “academic freedom” no longer means freedom of inquiry and expression; it now means forcing all institutions, including religious-affiliated colleges, to accept leftist values.
That’s why it’s okay to shout down or expel conservative speakers on liberal campuses while insisting that conservative religious institutions accommodate personnel who reject the colleges’ worldview.
The ACLU’s latest perversion of “academic freedom” comes in a lawsuit on behalf of a philosophy professor at a small Christian college in Wenham, Massachusetts, who took to the pages of a local paper to assail her school’s continued commitment to biblical values.
Lauren Swayne Barthold says she has faced “discrimination and retaliation” since writing a letter in the Salem News blasting Gordon College’s leadership and policies. Don’t read anything into this, but the paper’s logo is a witch on a broomstick. Seriously.
Professor Barthold is particularly ticked off that college President Michael Lindsay signed a group letter in 2014 urging President Obama to create a religious exemption from an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating in hiring on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Although she claims that all she wants is “dialogue,” Professor Barthold’s letter clearly suggests that economic sanctions against her employer for its unwillingness to parlay with activists who reject biblical teaching. She laments: “Many, many times over the years that I have worked here, I have asked myself whether I should quit in protest over this discriminatory policy.”
The ACLU’s Orwellian defense of the professor was summed up by attorney Joshua Solomon, who said: “This case is important to preserving academic freedom and preventing the violation, in the name of religion, of important rights to be free from discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.”
Professor Barthold might take note that the Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded in 1620 by the Pilgrims, who fled one-size-fits-all religious persecution in Europe.
Sixteen years later, religious reformer Roger Williams, who was at odds with the Pilgrims’ version of Puritanism, went south and founded the Providence Plantation, precursor to the state of Rhode Island.
Classic examples of diversity in action. Surely Prof. Barthold could find work at a non-religious school that better reflects her values or perhaps at a nominally Christian school whose sails are filled with the winds of progressivism.