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Category Archives: Education

Why Academic Freedom Matters (Now More Than Ever)

On May 19, the Intercollegiate Review published a brilliant essay authored by Robert P. George, NOM's founding Chairman.

The essay is adapted from George's new book, Conscience and Its Enemies: Exposing the Dogmas of Secular Liberalism.  It explores why academic freedom is necessary:

College-StudentPerhaps it is worth pausing to ask why we care—or should care—so much about intellectual freedom in the academy. Why ought we be concerned about the rights of an administrator who is fired for stating her moral views by a university that says it is morally neutral and nonsectarian, or the freedom of an assistant professor who is denied tenure because he would not toe the party line at such a university? Why should we care about students who are punished with a bad grade for having the temerity to state views that are out of line with those of the course instructor? What is it about intellectual or academic freedom that makes it worth worrying about—and worth fighting for?

[...]

I have already mentioned that some partisans of academic freedom misguidedly depict truth as an enemy of freedom. They appeal to, or presuppose, a species of relativism or subjectivism or radical skepticism in defending freedom of inquiry. Now, it is certainly true that one reason for respecting academic freedom is that people can be mistaken about what they regard—even securely regard—as true. Indeed, even unanimity of belief does not guarantee its correctness. But I think that the possibility of error is not the primary or most powerful reason for honoring academic freedom and protecting it even in areas where we are secure in our knowledge of the truth.

The stronger and deeper reason is that freedom is the condition of our fuller appropriation of the truth. I use the term appropriation because knowledge and truth have their value for human beings precisely as fulfillment of capacities for understanding and judgment. The liberal arts liberate the human spirit because knowledge of truth—attained by the exercise of our rational faculties—is intrinsically and not merely instrumentally valuable. “Useful knowledge” is, of course, all to the good. It is wonderful when human knowledge can serve other human goods, such as health, as in the biomedical sciences, or economic efficiency and growth, or the constructing of great buildings and bridges, or any of a million other worthy purposes. But even “useful knowledge” is often more than instrumentally valuable, and a great deal of knowledge that wouldn’t qualify as “useful” in the instrumental sense is intrinsically and profoundly enriching and liberating. This is why we honor—and should honor even more highly than we currently do in our institutions of higher learning—excellence in the humanities and pure science (social and natural).

Knowledge that elevates and enriches—knowledge that liberates the human spirit—cannot be merely notional. It must be appropriated. It is not—it cannot be—a matter of affirming or even believing correct propositions. The knowledge that elevates and liberates is knowledge not only that something is the case but also why and how it is the case. Typically such knowledge does more than settle something in one’s mind; it opens new avenues of exploration. Its payoff includes new sets of questions, new lines of inquiry.

Let us return, then, to the question of why we should respect freedom even where truth is known securely. It is because freedom—freedom to inquire, freedom to assent or withhold assent as one’s best judgment dictates—is a condition of the personal appropriation of the truth by the human subject, the human person for the sake of whom, for the flourishing of whom, for the liberation of whom, knowledge of truth is intrinsically valuable. And it is intrinsically valuable not in some abstract sense but precisely as an aspect of the well-being and fulfillment of human beings—rational creatures whose flourishing consists in part in intellectual inquiry, understanding, and judgment and in the practice of the virtues that make possible excellence in the intellectual question.

The freedom we must defend is freedom for the practice of these virtues. It is freedom for excellence, the freedom that enables us to master ourselves. It is a freedom that, far from being negated by rigorous standards of scholarship, demands them. It is not the freedom of “if it feels good, do it”; it is, rather, the freedom of self-transcendence, the freedom from slavery to self.

Read the rest of Robert George's essay here.

Marriage and Witness at Notre Dame

Michael Bradley, one of the co-founders of the Notre Dame pro-marriage group Students for Child-Oriented Policy (SCOP), wrote a piece at Public Discourse on witnessing the truth about marriage at Notre Dame.  He criticized the school's refusal to recognize SCOP's as an official university club, explaining:

NDOn April 30, the university rejected SCOP’s request to become an officially recognized student club, citing a “recommendation” by a group of student government officials who judged that “there was not a need” for SCOP’s presence on campus.

The official reason given for rejecting SCOP’s application is “redundancy,” a transparent reason for rejection that even a momentary glance through the names of some of the more than 500 recognized student clubs punctures. Additionally, when pressed to identify the groups the missions of which allegedly make SCOP’s acceptance redundant, the president of the aforementioned student government group listed several groups that don’t at all claim to advocate for child-oriented public policies.

Notre Dame’s decision to deny SCOP’s application is rooted in either culpable ignorance of SCOP’s mission and purpose or barely veiled hostility toward SCOP’s true mission and purpose.

Furthermore, the rejection letter came from the same Student Activities official who told SCOP leaders in early April that the SCOP petition was “inaccurate” and suggested that its language would make some members of the Notre Dame community feel “unwelcome.” She further intimated concerns that the petition’s authors were misquoting their sources, and took twice as long as official Student Activities Office policy standards dictate to return a request (which was filed on behalf of a recognized student group) to publicize the petition in Notre Dame’s student center.

As demonstrated by their resilience, the students of SCOP are not going to back down.  They are diligently and tenaciously standing up for marriage on campus, despite the apparent hostility of some of their peers who do not share their pro-family sentiment.  Marriage defenders can look forward to what SCOP will accomplish on campus in future years.

Pro-Marriage Notre Dame Students Remain Resolute

Students for Child-Oriented Policy, a group of pro-marriage Notre Dame students, remains resolute in their endeavor to be recognized as an official university club.  The University of Notre Dame denied them official status as a club on the grounds that other groups at Notre Dame have similar missions.

Fox News reported:

Notre Dame DomeThe group, Students for Child-Oriented Policy (SCOP), was rejected in an April 30 letter from the university’s Student Activities Office to Tiernan Kane, the club’s proposed president. The decision was based on a recommendation by the university’s Club Coordination Council, a division of student government, that found the club’s mission “closely mirrored” that of other undergraduate student clubs at the 12,000-student university.

“In evaluating a proposal, approval is based on several things,” read the letter to Kane. “We consider the general purpose of a club, uniqueness to campus, proposed activities, a clear constitution, a strong understanding of budget planning, projected membership, opportunity for membership, among other things.”

Due to the perceived duplicative mission of the group, SCOP’s proposal was rejected, according to the letter, which did not reference other university-recognized groups.

“As such, the Club Coordination Council felt there was not a need for another similar-type club,” the letter continued. “You are encouraged to contact the Club Coordination Council’s Social Service Division to learn about collaborating with the existing clubs working toward your mutual goals.”

SCOP, which was founded in January, is comprised of Notre Dame undergraduate and graduate students focused on the debate about marriage in Indiana, where the school is based, according to its Facebook profile, which had 69 members as of Tuesday.

“SCOP's overarching concern is that policymakers are failing to approach their task with a view to how those policies will affect children,” the group’s Facebook page reads. “They seem to conceive of policy only as it will affect the stable, independent adult with resources. We see this approach affecting a number of important political issues, not just the current question about the definition of marriage. Still, marriage is both foundational and at a critical point in this state and country, and therefore, SCOP has decided to focus on the issue in its initial conference.”

The group seeks to unite a network of students across The Hoosier State in favor of “child-oriented policies,” according to its organizers.

“We reject the view that the young have agreed to redefine marriage,” the group’s Facebook page continues. “Rather, we think that they have not explored the meaning and importance of marriage.”

Messages seeking comment from Kane and other SCOP students were not returned early Tuesday.

Kane told The Cardinal Newman Society he believes Notre Dame should take the lead on marriage, much like it did in publicly voicing its support for the Dream Act and other controversial topics.

“The Catholic Church's teaching on marriage, which is universally intelligible to human reason, is informed by a tradition of philosophical reflection that reaches back at least as far as Plato,” he said. “As the nation's premier Catholic university, Notre Dame has the ability, and thus the responsibility, to contribute to -- indeed, to lead -- public discourse about marriage.”

Notre Dame Marriage PetitionA petition created by the group calling on Notre Dame to “take up the defense of marriage at this pivotal moment in the national discussion” had 948 signatures as of Tuesday.

“We understand marriage to be that natural institution that unites one man and one woman in a comprehensive sharing of life ‘ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring,’” the petition reads.

Timothy Bradley, another SCOP member, indicated that the group is undergoing an appeal process in hopes of reversing the decision.

The full Fox News article can be found here.  The students told the National Catholic Register that they do not use religious arguments to advocate for marriage:

...Kane, the prospective SCOP president, said CCC mistakenly conflated his group with being a “Catholic” organization.

“SCOP is not a religious group,” Kane said. “Our application clearly conveyed our group’s nonpartisan, nonsectarian focus on public policy as it relates to issues that specially affect children.”

McEntee declined to discuss CCC’s discussion and vote — a two-thirds majority is needed to approve a club application — in greater detail because the process is meant to be confidential. CCC’s student membership is also private.

In its proposed constitution, SCOP describes itself as a group whose purpose is to “educate and energize the public, especially young people,” about a child-oriented approach to public policy. Although its public-policy prescriptions, which Kane said are derived from reason, align with Catholic teaching, he said SCOP is not meant to be “an explicitly Catholic organization.”

...After SCOP was established in January, its first step was to circulate a petition that called upon the university to take a clear public stand in support of the true definition of marriage and to take “serious and sustained action” to improve the public understanding of the natural institution.

When SCOP drafted its petition, the Indiana Legislature was debating a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Both chambers of the legislature approved the amendment, which required approval in another legislative session before it could be presented to Indiana’s voters.

Tim Bradley, a Notre Dame student and the prospective treasurer of the group, said SCOP pushed the petition because the group believed Notre Dame’s administration had been “totally silent” on the issue.

“The way we see it, Notre Dame has a responsibility to witness to the truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” Tim Bradley said.

It's clear that SCOP will not back down when it comes to defending marriage on campus.  They are boldly defying the liberal myth that young people think marriage should be redefined.  Hats off to these courageous students who continue to stand up for marriage!

Narrowing the Halls of Higher Education

Two stories in the news lately demonstrate chillingly how far the new orthodoxy of marriage radicalism has infiltrated the sector of society where formerly freedom and diversity of opinion were most prized: the Academy.

First, from The Daily Caller, comes news that Angela McCaskill  has been denied legal redress in court after having been targeting with harassment and intimidation as a result of having signed a petition to protect marriage in Maryland:

Angela McCaskillMcCaskill, the first black deaf woman to get a Ph.D from Gallaudet, sued the university last year for illegal discrimination based on race, religion, marital status and political views.

[...]

The acclaimed school for the deaf suspended and then demoted Angela McCaskill after a lesbian professor discovered her name on the petition to put “Proposition 6” — which would have overturned Maryland’s legalization of gay marriage — on the November 2012 Maryland ballot.

As if this weren't bad enough, a proposed Christian law school in Canada is "facing opposition from lawyers who do not like the university's stance on 'sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.'"

From the story:

The British Columbia Law Society had voted 20-6 on April 11 to approve the law school, but then lawyer Michael Mulligan convinced his fellow lawyers to sign a petition to overturn the decision. As a result, 1,300 signed to back Mulligan.

In addition, the Law Society of Upper Canada executive voted 28-21 to reject Trinity Western law grads the opportunity to practice law in Ontario, Canada on April 24. However, on April 25, Nova Scotia Barristers' Society voted 10-9 to approve the school, but only if it cancels its evangelical stance on "sexual intimacy" outside of traditional marriages.

[...]

Photo Credit: CBC News

Photo Credit: CBC News

"The idea that Trinity's law school graduates aren't really qualified is not going to get them very far, because there's no end to that argument," said [Christian Higher Education Canada Executive Director Justin Cooper]. "Are they going to give a 'religious test' to every Muslim and Hindu graduate of a law school who may hold some similar values?"

Perhaps a more incisive question would be whether an evident bias in favor of redefining marriage on the part of a given law school would subject that program to stricter scrutiny, on account of the fact that its graduates would be unlikely to remain impartial if faced with the prospect, say, of defending a religious business owner targeted with a lawsuit for declining to violate their beliefs?

It is doubtful: the same double-standards cutting through all of the institutions in society as part of the march to redefine marriage and sexuality are taking firm root in the halls of higher education, it seems, and those halls are becoming too narrow to accommodate anyone who won't step into line with the new radical ideology.

"Notre Dame, you have a voice..."

A group of plucky students at Notre Dame made news this week with a petition to the University officials "to take up the defense of marriage at this pivotal moment in the national discussion surrounding this foundational institution."

Notre DameThe Cardinal Newman Society provides more details:

The petition was created by members of the newly formed Students for Child-Oriented Policy (SCOP), made up of undergraduate and graduate students at the University...

[...]

A co-founder of the group, Tiernan Kane, told The Cardinal Newman Society that he believes the university should take the lead on marriage.

"The Catholic Church's teaching on marriage, which is universally intelligible to human reason, is informed by a tradition of philosophical reflection that reaches back at least as far as Plato," [Kane] said. "As the nation's premier Catholic university, Notre Dame has the ability, and thus the responsibility, to contribute to--indeed, to lead--public discourse about marriage."

[...]

Senior Michael Bradley, a co-founder of the group, told The Cardinal Newman Society that the administration has been "entirely mute on marriage" while publicly supporting the Dream Act and other contested political issues.  [Bradley] said, "Notre Dame, you have a voice, and it would mean a lot in defense of Church teaching."

Bravo to these brave young men and women!

Gourmet Craziness: The "Genderbread Person 2.0"

Gingerbread men are a staple in many households around the holidays, but (alas!) in our Brave New World this treasured holiday icon apparently could be taken as perpetuating old and outdated stereotypes about men and women. What is a discerning cultural gourmet to do? Have no fear! Meet The Genderbread Person 2.0!

File this under things you simply can't make up.

This "edugraphic" (read "indoctrination tool") is the product of "social justice advocate and ally" Sam Killerman, who runs a website centered around his one-man comedy show called It's Pronounced MetrosexualAccording to the site, "Sam travels the country and performs the show for students at colleges and universities." If you have a university student, you might want to ask whether their college student orientation included a staging of this production.

The content of the show is unclear to us, but judging from Sam's blog, one can imagine what sort of values it proposes. For instance, he has articles on "Examples of Christian Privilege" and "Examples of Cisgender Privilege" that implicitly paint Christians and "cisgender" persons as oblivious bullies.

What's a "cisgender" person, you ask? Sam explains that this "means having a biological sex that matches your gender identity and expression, resulting in other people accurately perceiving your gender."

Among the "privileges" of the cisgendered, Sam lists "being able to pretend that anatomy and gender are irrevocably entwined when having the “boy parts and girl parts” talk with children, instead of explaining the actual complexity of the issue."

Of course this "pretending" is meant to be exploded by The Genderbread Person 2.0, which demonstrates how "biological sex" actually contains "infinite... possible plot and label combos" on two parallel continua from "asex" to "female-ness" and "maleness" -- among which just some of the options are "male, female, intersex, female-self-identifying, and male-self-identifying."

In all, Sam's work seems to highlight for us the larger picture of which redefining marriage into a genderless institution is an integral part. A future with genderless marriage is the same future in which children would lack the right to privacy in using the bathroom of their biological sex and in which something as simple as a Christmas cookie may be construed as hearkening back to an oppressive and bigoted past.

The Ruth Institute

The National Organization for Marriage Education Fund is happy to announce that the Ruth Institute will be running as an independent organization effective November 1, 2013. The Ruth Institute has operated as a project of NOM's Education Fund over the last three years. NOM is proud of the great work that the Ruth Institute is doing and is happy that its work has grown to the point where it will operate independently.

Redefining Marriage "Consistently Heedless of Logic"

Writing today in The Public Discourse, Matthew J. Franck probes "the prominence of [the] assault on reasoning itself" within the movement to redefine marriage:

Rather than say what marriage is—which anyone can see is an absolute prerequisite to saying whether "equality" demands its availability to partners never before thought capable of marrying—these advocates simply shout "marriage equality" ever more loudly, point to an array of "government benefits" linked to marital status, and make their desire for the thing substitute for an argument about what the thing is that they want.

You can read the rest of his article here.

M.Franck

Standing for Marriage on the College Campus

To hear mainstream media tell it, every 20-something in the United States agrees with same-sex ‘marriage.’  Evidently Christine Guttery did not get the memo.  The 20-year old English major from Louisiana State University recently penned a post for the school’s paper thoughtfully and winsomely defending the traditional definition of marriage.  She writes:

College StudentsI am against same-sex marriage, not because I hate the LGBT community — I don’t. Everyone deserves to be treated with equal respect and kindness, regardless of their sexual orientation. I am against same-sex marriage because same-sex relationships do not adhere to the definition of marriage, and there is no logical reason to redefine it.

The most common argument I hear is that everyone deserves to be happy with the one they love, and government should not deny anyone that right. But opponents of same-sex marriage are not proposing that same-sex couples be banned by law from choosing to have a relationship, but rather that such a union cannot be defined as marriage, because the nature of the union contradicts that of marriage.

College CampusAs the definition of marriage broadens to mean different things and accepts different kinds of relationships, it loses its distinct identity and meaning. In this case, there is no point in recognizing marriage at all.

I am not against homosexuals having rights, but granting same-sex couples the right to marry is erroneous. Redefining marriage will deconstruct its original value. Louisiana should continue to defend the institution of marriage as outlined in the state constitution. (Read More)

It’s great to hear young people, especially on the college campus, carrying the banner for true marriage.

National Organization for Marriage California Backs Effort to Repeal Co-ed Bathroom Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 20, 2013
Contact: Elizabeth Ray or Matille Thebolt (703-683-5004)


"AB1266, the co-ed bathroom law, is a horrible attempt by activists to strip society of all gender roles and uses children as a weapon in their culture war." — Brian Brown, NOM president —

National Organization for Marriage

Sacramento, CA — The National Organization for Marriage California (NOM) today announced that it has joined in the fight to repeal California's first-in-the-nation co-ed bathroom law, AB 1266. NOM is urging its members in California to assist in the effort to gather the nearly 505,000 required voter signatures to place the repeal on the November 2014 ballot, suspending the law until Californians can vote to reject it.

"AB1266, the co-ed bathroom law, is a horrible attempt by activists to strip society of all gender roles and uses children as a weapon in their culture war," said Brian Brown, NOM's president. "The National Organization for Marriage fully supports the efforts of the Privacy for All Students coalition to repeal this dangerous law. Opening our most vulnerable areas at school including showers, bathrooms and changing rooms to members of the opposite sex is politically-correct madness that risks the privacy and security of our children and grandchildren."

NOM has long warned that when marriage is redefined, other important social norms are soon destroyed. In June 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the backers of Proposition 8 preserving marriage did not have the legal standing to bring an appeal of a lower court ruling finding traditional marriage laws to be unconstitutional, which resulted in same-sex marriage being imposed on the state in violation of the direct decision of the people themselves.

"Not even two short months after the US Supreme Court refused to uphold the right of over 7 million Californians to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, the California Legislature passed AB 1266, the school co-ed bathroom law," said Brown. "They are forcing our school children to be exposed in showers and bathrooms to members of the opposite sex who claim a 'gender identity' with that sex. This new law doesn't prevent bullying - it is bullying. It is not about protecting kids; it damages kids."

The Privacy for All Students coalition is attempting to stop the law's implementation by gathering nearly 505,000 voter signatures by early November. The law will then be suspended until the people have the chance to reject it at the general election to be held in November 2014.

"We urge all our supporters to download a petition and to financially support the Privacy For All Students coalition effort," Brown said.

The National Organization for Marriage expects to play a significant role in getting the referendum on the ballot as it did in the Prop 8 campaign in 2008.

###

To schedule an interview with Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage, please contact Elizabeth Ray (x130), [email protected], or Matille Thebolt (x143), [email protected], at 703-683-5004.

Paid for by The National Organization for Marriage, Brian Brown, president. 2029 K Street NW, Suite 300 Washington, DC 20006, not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. New § 68A.405(1)(f) & (h).

ADF: Professor Ordered Students to Support SSM

FoxNews' Todd Starnes:

PinA Tennessee community college professor ordered her students to wear ribbons supporting gay rights and said those who believed in the traditional definition of marriage are just “uneducated bigots” who “attack homosexuals with hate,” according to a legal firm representing several of the students in the class.

Students in a general psychology class at Columbia State Community College were directed by their professor to wear “Rainbow Coalition” ribbons for an entire day and express their support for the homosexual community, said Travis Barham, an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Barham is calling for the college to punish Dr. Linda Brunton and order her to apologize to the students whose constitutional rights he believes were violated, according to a letter he sent to the community college president.

“Dr. Brunton essentially turned her General Psychology class into a semester-long clinic on the demands of the homosexual movement,” Barham said.

... According to her faculty page, Brunton is a member of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Educators Network and lists diversity issues among her professional interests.

Anti-Bullying Presentation Forces Middle School Girls to Ask for Same-Sex Kiss

BEFORE marriage is redefined, we're always told these things will never happen. Yet this seems to be what always happens.

A recent anti-bullying presentation at a middle school in New York that focused on homosexuality and gender identity has angered parents after their daughters have come home to tell them they were forced to ask another girl for a kiss.

During the workshop for girls, the 13 and 14-year-olds were told to ask one another for a kiss. They were also taught words such as “pansexual” and “genderqueer.”

Parent Mandy Coon told reporters that her daughter was very uncomfortable with the exercise. “She told me, ‘Mom, we all get teased and picked on enough; now I’m going to be called a lesbian because I had to ask another girl if I could kiss her,’” she lamented. “They also picked two girls to stand in front of the class and pretend they were lesbians on a date.”

Coon stated that she was especially irate over the matter because parents were given no warning about the presentations, nor an opportunity to opt out. She is also dismayed that college students were granted the right to come into the classroom and encourage her daughter to be sexually active.  -Christian News Network

Two UK Teachers Punished for Not Teaching About Gay Marriage

The UK Christian Institute:

A primary school teacher faced disciplinary action because she didn’t want to read to her class from a storybook about gay penguins.

The teacher, who has not been named, works in a school in a London Borough and her case has been told to a committee of MPs looking at the gay marriage Bill.

Another teacher, from Scotland, says he was pressurised to promote gay marriage against his will and it contributed to a breakdown.

The two teachers have remained anonymous because they fear for their careers, but have permitted a lawyer to outline their cases to Parliament.

LifeSiteNews Chief Promotes NOM's Latest MarriageADA Video

Patrick Craine, Canadian Bureau Chief of LifeSiteNews, promotes our latest MarriageADA video on the threat of same-sex marriage infringing on the rights of parents:

Just as Ontario’s new Premier Kathleen Wynne has announced plans to reintroduce an explicit sex-ed program, the Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance, and our friend Damian Goddard have released a great video about a striking case where exactly this type of program has been used as a battering ram against parental rights.

... It’s bad enough that this stuff would be taught in the classroom at all – why not let parents judge for themselves when their kids are ready to discuss sex? – but now there’s an increasingly entrenched opposition to even informing parents when it comes up.

The video is an interview with Dr. Steve Tourloukis. Tourloukis asked the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board to be told when his kids would be discussing same-sex “marriage” and other controversial issues in the classroom, but they said to do so would be a violation of “human rights.” So he’s taking them to court to get a declaration that the parent has primary authority over his children’s education.

The school board, amazingly, has the gall to oppose him in court on even such a basic proposition.

This type of abuse by schools is coming to cities across North America and the West, so parents need to be ready. Our children’s hearts and souls depend on it.

You can watch the video right here.

UK Government Source: Teachers May Face Firing for Refusing to Teach Gay Marriage

The Christian Post:

As Great Britain's government prepares to vote on a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, an official from the Secretary of State for Education's office reportedly has expressed trepidation toward the bill, arguing that primary school teachers in the country could possibly lose their jobs if they do not teach about gay marriage in the classroom.

One unnamed senior source from the office of Michael Gove, who serves as the country's current Secretary of State for Education, has recently said that ultimately the U.K. government is not in control, should a teacher lose their job for refusing to teach same-sex marriage, and the case would ultimately go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, where the European Parliament is located.

... Additionally, those critical of the upcoming same-sex marriage bill argue that hospital chaplains and other people in authority may be faced with difficult decisions when their conscience conflicts with their work protocol.