23 February 2011

CAUT and the Christian University

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has decided to put a stop to its investigations of the few Christian universities in this country, although it intends to maintain a list of those institutions governed by a faith statement on the presumption that they infringe on the academic freedom of faculty. In the meantime one Todd Pettigrew, a blogger for Macleans magazine, has penned this measured assessment of my employer's educational mission: Irredeemable, with this summary: "Redeemer University College, according to its published statements, promotes religion over knowledge." In a followup to this post, Pettigrew magnanimously offers this: "My point is not that Redeemer should be forced to close, only that, in my view, it should not be allowed to call itself a university, and that it not be allowed to award credentials called degrees."

The key to understanding Pettigrew's perspective can be found in book IV, chapter 8 of Rousseau's Social Contract, "On Civil Religion." What begins as a promise of tolerance quickly becomes perfectly intolerant of those who persist in believing in the tenets of their own religions.

In the meantime, I have written two letters to the editor, one in the local Hamilton Spectator and the other in the Canada-wide National Post, pointing out what should be obvious: that CAUT is in the grip of its own worldview from which it apparently brooks no dissent: CAUT imposes its own strict ideology on its members, and Caught up in CAUT's ideology.

To American readers, I call attention once more to the important work being done by Dr. Stanley Carlson-Thies with the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, whose mission is to safeguard "the religious identity and faith-shaped standards and services of faith-based organizations, enabling them to make their distinctive and best contributions to the common good." In a context where freedom of religion is understood in narrowly individualistic terms, IRFA deserves all of our support. Perhaps it's time to extend its work north of the 49th parallel.

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