David Tulis: UTC Avoids Offense, Kills Prayers, Aids Society With Queer Studies - And Response (3)

  • Wednesday, September 12, 2012
  • David Tulis

UTC this week caved to cajolings of the Freedom From Religion foundation and banned the free exercise of Christian prayer before football games. 

“We need to make sure there is never anybody that goes away from our campus, our stadium, our arena or classroom or work, that feels like they have been excluded or feel uncomfortable in any way,” Chancellor Roger Brown said. 

“This is becoming a very diverse city, and there are faiths from all around the world who live on this campus and live in this community,” he explained. “I don't think a public university should be a place where anyone feels uncomfortable to be. I want this place to be a meeting of minds and scholarship, as well as activity and joy. And anyone who comes here and feels excluded, it's a bad thing.” 

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is run by state government and subsidized by tax revenues. While some professors may have intellects and coursework compatible with the claims of Christianity (Adam’s fall, the sin problem, Christ’s atoning sacrifice for His people, creation of a universe), the institution has become rigorous in imposing an alternate theory. 

The vanguard of the culturally dominant framework is perhaps best highlighted in the university’s gender studies department. 

Dr. Heather Palmer “is dedicated to feminism, not just as a movement for the liberation for women, but as a broad social movement for the equality of individuals,” the department says (2010 department newsletter). “Dr. Palmer believes that feminism is thus structurally linked to the larger ethical project of human rights in this era of globalization and is a movement critical to the lives of both women and men.” In her 2009 Queer Theory course, she explored homosexuality. In culture there are “more representations of homosexuality than ever before, however stereotypical they may be; and on the other hand, a distinct and pronounced anti-gay agenda, manifesting itself, for example, in the preponderance of anti-gay marriage rhetorics … ” 

In 2009 lecturer Michael Jaynes, an “animal rights” activist, taught a course, Activist Ecofeminism. Ecofeminism is a “social and political movement that searches for connections between the domination of women and the domination of nature by the patriarchal dominant mindset and status quo.” Ecofeminism “examines these connections and the methods of empowerment for women, animals, the Earth, and all of nature.” 

The students in the elective course were “to read widely in the ecofeminist literature; to understand the link between women's liberation and animal liberation as well as [androcentrism] and speciesism; to develop feminist ecocritical approaches to works of literature and art; and to actively engage the public's consciousness regarding the destruction of nature and women.” 

Coursework includes a hearty evangelization for the concepts taught, including an activist project to “engage the greater Chattanooga area,” including phone calls to media, organizing public space, artwork “or grabbing signs and taking to the streets.” 

Mr. Jaynes’ goal in the class were modest — and tentative: “ *** [M]aybe even changing the world.” 

The attacks on prayer at UTC and Ridgeland High School in extracurricular activities (meaning, outside the curriculum) suggest how far public schooling has gone in the the service of the state, with the latest action a mere mopping-up. Christians, refusing to commit to Christian education, are being squeezed to nothing as the system seeks self-consistency and a secularism approximating total. 

David Tulis writes for Nooganomics.com, which covers local economy and free markets.

Women’s Studies Newsletter, spring 2009, fall 2010
Rachel Bunn, “Diversity leads to UTC moment of silence instead of prayer at football games,”
Chattanooga Times Free Press, Sept. 11, 2012

* * *

There is proof that our ancestry does include the Neanderthal.

Steve Daugherty Sr.

* * *

I am aware that David Tulis is a frequent contributor to the Opinion section on the Chattanoogan.com. Often, Mr. Tulis' lengthy opinions stand without comment. However, the lack of comment doesn't always indicate a complicity or agreement within the larger community. I often am tempted to answer, but frankly do not have the time to devote to a response replete with annotations and footnotes. 

Mr Tulis speaks of professors and coursework that is open and honest about its content (he references it with a footnote). No one compels students to take these courses; while they may be required for gender studies students, they are electives for everyone else. A functional university serves as a marketplace for the exchange of ideas and concepts.  

I'm saddened that Mr. Tulis feels that a free and open discussion from all quarters is a threat to his faith, particularly when he insists that the institution (UTC) has become "...rigorous in imposing an alternate theory." UTC does not impose an alternate theory, it merely proposes one. There is a wide chasm of thought lying between those two words. 

Will Taylor

* * * 

Dear David,
I am also a Bible-believing Christian, but I think very differently than you, and far too many other American Christians.  I have news for you.  We live in the world.  And in this world, there many, many more non-Christians than Christians.  Nowhere in the Bible are we ever promised that non-Christians will think like us, or that our thinking will dominate the land.  In fact, the opposite is true.   

Throughout much of history, in most of the world, being a Christian has automatically brought persecution and even death.  Jesus even said we'd be persecuted, and that we should accept it rather than complain.  So why would you express alarm at the fact that a non-Christian college would have classes that teach other schools of thought?  Why in the world would a non-Christian think in total alignment with Christianity and still be a non-Christian?  

It's absurd to complain about it.  And it's absurd to think that non-Christians would happily pray in Jesus' name with us before some stupid sporting event.  I wouldn't want to pray to Buddha before a sporting event, and neither would you.  So I am not angered in the least that a group of non-Christians would oppose being forced to pray to my God with me.  They're not Christians. What do we expect?  

Back in the '80s, I used to think just like you, and many other Christians here in America, and then I went on a summer missionary trip to Eastern Europe (the USSR, Poland and mostly Hungary) in 1988, one year before the wall wound up coming down.  It was all under communism.  I met a lot of Christians in Hungary at our summer camp, in churches and in their homes and I never once heard them complain about non-Christian subjects being taught at the colleges.  They never complained about a ten commandments statue being removed from a public place.  They didn't complain about Democrats or political liberals.  They just lived out their Christian lives in the face of constant religious, political and philosophical opposition with love, dignity and grace, with a stronger, truer faith than most of us here will ever have.  And these people have actually been persecuted, while you and I never have been.  They considered it an honor to be persecuted.  (In fact, some said that American Christians need to be persecuted in order to purify the church, which is why I say let it be, if it ever happens.)  

When I came back home, I saw things in a completely new way.  All to often, we're spoiled brats.  Modern American Christians, especially us Evangelicals act and talk like this country belongs to us and that it should be more Christian than any other faith or brand of thinking.  We think that our country can be both a democracy and basically Christian.  By definition, if we embrace democracy, then we must also embrace the fact that a Muslim or a Hindu have just as much a right as we have to pray publicly before events.  If we don't like that, then we don't like freedom and democracy.  I went to secular schools and college, and I was glad I did--even as a Christian, because I am called to be a witness, and I can't do that as well at Christian schools.  I was grateful for my socialist, feminist teacher of social studies because I was able to learn what she really believed, and to be able to sharpen and express my thinking in class without being angry or defensive, and still give her the respect and love I wanted to show her, so that she could see that not all Christians hated her.   

Let's stop expecting that no one ever think differently than us.  It's a given.  Instead, let's learn to actually listen to them--in love, and then express our views in humility and purity.  Maybe then, non-Christians in our lives would ask us why we are different.  Jesus said people would know we belong to him by our love.  He didn't say we'd be known to be His by our effective arguments against secularist thinking, or by our Republican political beliefs, or by our protests or carrying signs around in Washington, DC, or by our opposition to non-Christian movies or music, or by anything else so many Christians get caught up in here in America today.  And we wonder why we are made fun of, opposed, ignored, etc.  It's because we're too busy whining and complaining about people disagreeing with us.  We need to suck it up, stop arguing, and start focusing on loving God, loving people and letting people see The Lord in our lives by the way we live, not by how well we can argue against feminism classes at a college. 

John Stegall

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