Campus Religious Conflict SHOULD GO PUBLIC

By Jakobsen, Janet R. | Academe, July/August 2006 | Go to article overview

Campus Religious Conflict SHOULD GO PUBLIC


Jakobsen, Janet R., Academe


A Barnard project moves debates about religion out of the private sphere.

These are difficult times for faculty members and others who are committed to academic freedom. Among a number of examples, consider the following:

* In early 2006, Andrew Jones, an alumnus of the University of California, Los Angeles, offered to pay students to report professors who express "wrong" political views in class. According to the February 13, 2006, issue of The Nation, the incorrect views listed on Jones's Web site included supporting affirmative action and opposing the confirmation of John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court.

* Over the past few years, state legislatures across the country have introduced bills that aim to restrict faculty activity in the name of protecting student freedom.1 A bill introduced earlier this year in Arizona would have required institutions of higher education to provide alternatives if "the course, coursework, learning material, or [class] activity conflict[ed] with the student's beliefs or practices in sex, morality, or religion."

Although such legislative initiatives have thus far failed, they remain a matter for concern, because they use the language of academic freedom in their effort to constrain expression. In so doing, they threaten to turn the meaning of academic freedom away from its traditional sense as the freedom to express diverse viewpoints toward the idea that academic freedom is a freedom from hearing any views that might cause offense. This new meaning is hardly that of a principle supporting free and open inquiry in the academy, nor is it one that supports the enterprise of democracy.

Given this climate, it is vitally important that we defend academic freedom and recall its founding principles. Defense of academic freedom on its own, however, can set up a scenario that has become all too familiar over the past twenty years of "culture wars," in which attack and defense play themselves out in ways that are highly regularized and almost scripted, with little shift in the terrain and no end in sight. Such an impasse makes for a depressing state of affairs. It seems that those of us who support academic freedom are condemned to defend ourselves ad nauseam and to see our own principles repeatedly used against us.

There is another possibility, however. We could take up the challenge of the current moment as an opportunity to rethink the meaning of academic freedom. Too often, we hesitate to question its meaning for fear that doing so will open the door to even greater demands for self-policing and censorship in the classroom than those we already face. Yet the modern concept of freedom on which our claims to freedom are based has its own problems, even contradictions, all of which can be exploited by those who have little or no concern for freedom of expression. Rethinking freedom can help us address these problems in ways that enrich and strengthen the power of the term.

A Special Case

The inherent contradictions of freedom are particularly acute when it comes to one of the hottest of the hot-button issues now invoked in debates over academic freedom: that of religion. Religious freedom and academic freedom pose an apparent contradiction. The historical development of the concept of academic freedom is one in which free inquiry has often been defined in opposition to religious authority or dogma. If in defending academic freedom, we simply hold on to one side of this opposition, we will have no language for the ways in which academic and religious freedom might be mutually maintained. We leave ourselves open to charges of bias and the abrogation of religious freedom. If, however, we develop a means of talking about religious freedom in relation to academic freedom, we take a major step toward shifting a debate that is currently structured so that one form of freedom can be perpetually posed against another.

Because the relationship between freedom and religion is so fraught.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Campus Religious Conflict SHOULD GO PUBLIC
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.