April 25, 2007

Going Too Far: "Diversity" in Academia

There is a recent post at Secular Outpost that really got my blood boiling. The subject deals with the public pressure experienced by those in academia to be kind to the Christian delusion under the banner of multiculturalism. Since this is one of my pet peeves, I could not resist the urge to post my thoughts on the matter here.

According to this post, the Missouri General Assembly will soon consider a bill calling for "intellectual diversity" in publicly-funded universities. The bill contains the following text:

(e) Include intellectual diversity concerns in the institution's guidelines on teaching and program development and such concerns shall include but not be limited to the protection of religious freedom including the viewpoint that the Bible is inerrant;
The intent is quite clear. Christian fundamentalism should be off limits to criticism. Rather, it is to be honored under the same banner of diversity that leads us to respect race, gender, etc. 

Take a minute to consider two applications of such a policy. First, universities could fall under pressure to hire more Christian fundamentalist faculty. Just like universities are encouraged to hire more women and ethnically diverse persons, I could easily imagine a call to increase the numbers of fundamentalists to better reflect the views of the student body. Second, rational faculty would be prohibited from penalizing students for spouting religious nonsense as a replacement for factual information across the curriculum. Science professors would have to accept "intelligent" design papers as being on the same level as those on evolution.

I agree with Secular Outpost that the academic left has for the most part done this to ourselves. In a way, the right is only using our own idiocy against us. It is time to revisit the scope of diversity and multiculturalism. I'm all for religious freedom, but I do not believe that religious belief counts among factors such as gender, race/ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

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