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Anti-Christian Harvard

Harvard is bigoted, but that’s okay, because it’s bigoted for the Left: [1]

The Office of Student Life has placed religious group Harvard College Faith and Action on “administrative probation” for a year after the organization pressured a female member of its student leadership to resign in September following her decision to date a woman.

College spokesperson Aaron M. Goldman announced the move to put HCFA on probation in an emailed statement sent to The Crimson Wednesday afternoon.

“After a thorough review and finding that HCFA had conducted itself in a manner grossly inconsistent with the expectations clearly outlined in [the Office of Student Life’s] Student Organization Resource and Policy Guide, OSL has placed HCFA on a one year administrative probation,” Goldman wrote in the statement.

Goldman did not specify how HCFA, the largest Christian fellowship on campus, had violated Office of Student Life “expectations.” In an emailed statement Wednesday, HCFA co-presidents Scott Ely ’18 and Molly L. Richmond ’18 were slightly more specific.

“Earlier today, we met with an administrator who informed us that the College would place HCFA on probation, citing our relationship with Christian Union as well as our standards for leaders,” Richmond and Ely wrote Wednesday. Christian Union—a national umbrella group with outposts at all eight Ivy League schools and Stanford—helps fund and support HCFA.

The decision to suspend HCFA, though, is almost certainly tied to the Sept. 2017 resignation of a female bisexual former assistant Bible course leader. HCFA leadership asked the woman to step down from her position after they learned she was dating another female student—violating guidelines laid out in the Harvard College Student Handbook, which stipulates recognized campus student groups cannot discriminate on the basis of “sexual orientation.”

What does this mean for the group?

Goldman, the University spokesperson who announced HCFA’s probation, did not immediately respond to a question asking whether probation means the group will be stripped of all rights and privileges granted to recognized student organizations.

Recognized student groups enjoy several benefits courtesy of the Office of Student Life, including the ability to reserve Harvard rooms and venues as well as access to a bank account.

Traditionally, HCFA has often held its weekly Doxa events—gatherings during which members worship together—in Yenching Auditorium, a Harvard space.

Other privileges granted to recognized student organizations include the right to poster on campus and permission to participate in activity fairs, both key ways campus groups recruit undergraduates. HCFA, founded in 2008, currently boasts roughly 200 members.

Earlier this month, Jackie Hill-Perry, a Christian woman who repented from her lesbian sexual activity caused a big stir on campus when the Christian group brought her in to speak [2]. Hill-Perry rejected “conversion therapy,” but called on same-sex attracted students to live chastely — a position that is entirely Biblical, entirely orthodox:

Some professors who joined in the protest Friday night said they disagreed with Hill-Perry’s ideas about sexuality.

“The history of this speaker and the things that she keeps promoting are things that basically alienate and threaten the existence of queer students on campus,” said Ahmed Ragab, a professor at the Divinity School. “I think it is a problem to have a speaker that promotes this kind of discourse.”

Threatens the existence? Jackie Hill-Perry will kill queer students? A Divinity School professor said this? Hysterical. What’s next? Does Jackie Hill-Perry kidnap queer babies and use their blood to make the saltines her church uses in celebrating the Lord’s Supper?

HCFA now has an opportunity to bear witness, through suffering, to the truth of the Christian faith, in the face of spite and rejection. Stay strong, y’all. You are on the front lines. All eyes will be on you, watching to see how you love even those who treat you cruelly. If Harvard will not let you meet in its rooms, then meet on the yard.

As for the rest of us, understand that this is how it’s going to go for all orthodox Christians. Pray for these Harvard believers … and prepare for how you will handle it when it happens to you. Because the LGBT movement and its supporters will tolerate nothing.

This is not just a one-off event. It’s part of a broad strategy. In an article in the present issue of Touchstone [3] magazine (no link to the article is yet available), the Eastern University Witherspoon Institute professor R.J. Snell describes what’s going on in incidents like this:

Antonio Gramsci (1897-1937), one of the intellectual fathers of anti-culture, rejected what he believed to be the naive economism of Soviet-style Communism, with its belief in the historical necessity of revolution and the advent of socialism. Instead, as explained by Roger Simon, hegemony must be developed and exercised by “persuading the subordinate classes to accept the values and ideas which the dominant class has itself adopted, and by building a network of alliances based on these values.” Overcoming the perceived hegemony of traditional culture was to be accomplished by a “counter-hegemony, requiring a prolonged process of moral and ideological reform.”

This was a “war of position,” as Gramsci termed it, in which coercion and persuasion would be combined, such that the subordinate classes would not be dominated by power alone but would somewhat freely consent to the new values. Their own values would be cajoled and pushed along-nudged-sometimes bullied, sometimes seduced or entertained, until the people desired anti-culture. Hegemony, thus, was “the organization of consent,” the structuring of institutions so that people would view the world through new lenses.

Of course, the mere presence of the older system is incongruous, a sign of contradiction; it shows the people’s consent to be arbitrary, provisional, and reversible. The existence of the Church, for instance, is a mark of difference that calls the new values into question, and so the Church must be eviscerated, or better, be so corrupted as to lose its moral distinctiveness and become part of the consenting anti-culture. (Why, after all, were the Little Sisters of the Poor forced to provide contraception when it would have been so easy for the Affordable Care Act to make accommodations for them?)

Attaining consent, and the legitimizing power that goes with it, is quite an accomplishment, but maintaining hegemony after power is attained is equally important. It is not enough to have dominance; that dominance must be continually re-entrenched and strengthened. This explains, in part, the relentlessness of the sexual revolution — it was not enough to have secured same-sex “marriage,” for example, and so the turn to “transgender rights” ensued with remarkable speed and ferocity.

This is why you should not believe the power-holders when they talk about “tolerance” and “dialogue” on these matters. They will satisfy themselves with nothing short of the obliteration of dissent. It’s not a bug; it’s a feature. Simply to continue to exist — to pray, to worship, to refuse to capitulate — is an act of courageous resistance. At this point in the long war, refusing to surrender is a victory.

The Harvard debacle is an illustration the necessity of the Benedict Option [4]. I hope and expect that Harvard College Faith and Action will use all means open to it to fight for its right to be on campus, and to govern itself in accordance with its religious convictions. It is unlikely to win, it would appear — but that doesn’t mean that the organization should either surrender and accept the imposition of anti-Christian values upon it, or disband. Its members need the deep practices prescribed by the Benedict Option to build within themselves the spiritual and moral resilience necessary to withstand whatever Harvard throws at them, without compromising their testimony. They will need to strengthen the bonds of fellowship, and to root themselves profoundly within the Bible, and the history of the Church.

And they will need help from the orthodox Christian community from outside.  The Benedict Option is meant precisely for moments like this. This is a comparatively little thing, but it is a preview of much bigger things to come. Much bigger things. Let this be a sign to you all to prepare.

UPDATE: A reader from Harvard writes:

Speaking from inside the Crimson bubble – I have had the privilege of having some of the student leaders of HCFA in my classes the past few years. They are just about the most faithful and also the nicest kids you could imagine. I cannot say that I am surprised at this point by Harvard’s censure at this point, but I am disturbed by it.

It certainly demonstrates that limits of “winsomeness” as a Christian tactic – you could not imagine more pleasant and friendly folks, and yet the hammer is coming down on them.

One note though Rod – the kerfuffle over Jackie Hill-Perry wasn’t just “earlier this month” – it was less than a week ago, and various LGBT groups across the university have been holding protests and “concerned conversations” in its wake. I find it very hard not to imagine this administrative action was triggered by that event.

UPDATE.2: A reader comments:

Harvard undergraduate and current HCFA member here.

There’s seems to be three distinct things which have happened over this past year that led to HCFA being put on probation.

1) The leadership requirements were actually enforced on a queer student in a relationship. HCFA has had queer students in leadership before, but none were in homosexual relationships. The requirements have always been there.

2) Certain members of HCFA this fall semester started openly complaining about HCFA’s policy on these things on the group email list and some dorm-wide lists. These people likely also alerted the various deans of diversity. I would contrast this with a few years back, when HCFA during a week of programming on Christian sexual ethics, hosted a very respectful debate between a pro-gay marriage member and a pro traditional marriage ministry fellow. There was disagreement but it didn’t seem to boil over into open complaint and criticism, but perhaps I just wasn’t aware of it at the time.

3) HCFA brought in a speaker who was publicly and clearly against the LGBTQ agenda, and caused a ruckus with protesters, police presence, media coverage, and all that jazz. That was Friday night, a little too close for mere coincidence as Ahenobarbus pointed out.

Most Christian fellowships have leadership requirements like HCFA, it takes more than that to get kicked out, but really it was just a matter of time. The Dartmouth equivalent of HCFA (funded by the same parent organization, Christian Union) is already not recognized, but still going strong.

Now I’m not one of the leaders of HCFA or a dean of diversity or student life, so I can’t be certain, but that’s how things look from the ground. Pray for the leadership of HCFA, they’ve had to work really hard on all this on top of their classes.

Reader Isaac Inkeles e-mails to say (I quote him with his permission):

I’m writing to thank you for publicizing the HCFA probation at Harvard. As a recent alumnus of the college (’16), the events have been particularly troubling.

While at Harvard, I spent a year as editor of The Salient–the conservative undergraduate publication–and wrote a right-of-center column for The Crimson. I also wrote my senior thesis (and subsequent MPhil dissertation) on pluralism. The issue of political/ideological/religious tolerance at Harvard is therefore one that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. (Here’s a column I wrote about anti-religious bias [5].)

Anyway, I just want to make one quick point: this incident reveals how many on the left critically misunderstand religion. Religion isn’t just an internal experience; it’s about having beliefs and living them out. This is implied in HCFA’s name: faith in action. If you are not allowed to put your beliefs into practice–even in groups explicitly for that purpose–then you’re not free. As a Jew,this point is of the utmost salience, not just because of our history of persecution, but because mine is a religion that emphasize performance of commandments.

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90 Comments To "Anti-Christian Harvard"

#1 Comment By David J. White On February 23, 2018 @ 10:33 pm

Pseudo-Christian it is; I cannot imagine Jesus of Nazareth condoning such behavior.

“I have come to bring not peace but a sword.”

“I have come not to destroy the law, but to fulfill.”

I suppose you’re free to imagine Jesus any way you want, but please don’t mistake the Jesus of your imagination for the Jesus of the Gospels.

#2 Comment By Devinicus On February 23, 2018 @ 10:54 pm

Moosebreath, your advice (“perhaps they ought to consider …”) is relevant only if there is *not* a zero-sum game being played today between Christians and LGBTs in the United States. Yet I see little evidence of that. The tolerance train left the station with Obergefell.

#3 Comment By benjaminl On February 23, 2018 @ 11:00 pm

Plus ça change…

[6]

[7]

[8]

#4 Comment By James Kabala On February 24, 2018 @ 12:10 am

Hold on – Is Matt in Va actually gay, or am I misinterpreting him?

#5 Comment By Jack B. Nimble On February 24, 2018 @ 8:40 am

“The history of this speaker and the things that she keeps promoting are things that basically alienate and threaten the existence of queer students on campus,” said Ahmed Ragab….

Mr. Dreher does some quote-clipping here, when he extracts the bolded text from the surrounding context. The full quote makes clear that Mr. Ragab was talking about queer students feeling alienated and unwelcome on campus. Here, ‘existence’ is being used in the sense of ‘continued presence.’

#6 Comment By Stephanie On February 24, 2018 @ 9:19 am

‘Maybe “winning converts” isn’t the main goal; maybe “living the faith” is.’

See, I always thought that for Christians, executing the Great Commission WAS living the faith.

#7 Comment By MichaelGC On February 24, 2018 @ 12:11 pm

Moosebreath says February 23, 2018 at 7:43 pm:

And yet, within the memory of most of the people here, gays were faced with the possibility of prison for being gay. It is still legal in about half the states for an employer to fire someone for being gay, and the primary group preventing the repeal of such laws is conservative Christians.

In other words, if there are no explicit protections in place protecting the employment of gays, then gays are being actively persecuted. This is in spite of the fact that gay is not a race, a historically disadvantaged group easily identified by the skin of its members, systematically kept out of polling booths,
excluded from jobs, memberships, even prevented from sitting down to have a cup of coffee or a burger. Because of the aforementioned, comprehensive and vigorous programs needed to be put into place to undo the radical injustice that was widely woven into codes, practices, and attitudes.

So if conservative Christians expect others to be concerned about potential persecution of them, perhaps they ought to consider how they have, and are, persecuting others.

You ought to consider that who you have sex with is not the same as heritage and skin color. Along with adultery, fornication, etc., scripture roundly condemns homosexual acts. We all need to repent, and repentance is evidenced by turning from the actions that God abhors. Yet it seems Gaydom is fundamentally opposed to orthodox Christianity and seeks to either make it drop its basic teachings or drive it to the margins — in the words of Tim Gill “Punish the wicked.”

You want the state religion to be the unrestrained paganism as promoted in the pride parades, and churches to become shadows of their former selves, rainbow churches that offer their congregants nothing but weak and watered-down bromides of placation and affirmation. So spare me your complaints because conservative Christians are not compliantly rolling over for you.

#8 Comment By l’autre J On February 24, 2018 @ 1:04 pm

What it looks like, at the moment, is that the Muslims groups are simply falling in line, avoiding direct engagement and parroting orthodoxy on LGBT issues.

In my experience non-Christian religious groups generally form off campus. They don’t make the effort to be an official campus organization, often simply because they don’t want to bother with fulfilling the minimal administrative requirements (e.g. deciding on a President and a Treasurer), never mind anything else. They meet in members’ apartments and sometimes in rooms on campus a member can access as part of a research group or the like.

Christian groups make much more of an effort to plant a flag and get official recognition. In part because off-campus Christian groups that come on campus are often problematic and suspect, e.g. cults, and tend to get banned. In part because some are quite large and meeting in private spaces is too expensive or difficult to arrange. But it’s also that, well, theirs is the dominant established religion in society at large.

I think the game of standing on privilege and seeking privilege as groups, or resorting to subversion strategies to retain privilege, is finally unwise. But somehow Western Christians, especially conservative Christians, seem to have remarkable difficulty with real modesty and viewing themselves as simply one group among others in the present. Somehow the history and their presumption of being right in and about the future means they shouldn’t be less than primus inter pares in the present.

#9 Comment By Hound of Ulster On February 24, 2018 @ 1:28 pm

As Harvard is a private institution, the plaintiffs have a higher bar to clear wrt the laws on this matter.

As others have pointed out, many is this commbox would be cheering if Oral Roberts University did something like this to a pro-gay rights group. The hypocrisy goes both ways.

Either everyone gets kicked off of campus, or no one does. No playing favorites.

#10 Comment By Moosebreath On February 24, 2018 @ 3:50 pm

Siarlys,

“Its not that there are laws to repeal, specifying “employers may fire employees for being gay.” Rather, most states have some vestige of “employment at will.” That means an employer may fire an employee for any reason or no reason.”

But an employer cannot fire someone for a discriminatory reason if the class is protected, as sex and religion are. In about half the states, sexual preference is a protected, and the mere fact that an employee is gay is not permissible grounds to fire him or her. In the other half of the states, that is not true, and people can be fired simply for being gay.

Michael GC,

“In other words, if there are no explicit protections in place protecting the employment of gays, then gays are being actively persecuted. This is in spite of the fact that gay is not a race, a historically disadvantaged group easily identified by the skin of its members, systematically kept out of polling booths,
excluded from jobs, memberships, even prevented from sitting down to have a cup of coffee or a burger.”

On the other hand, religion is a protected class, even though none of those things apply to its adherents. A person cannot be fired because of what church he or she belongs to. Which makes the regular whining about how conservative Christians will lost their jobs in the future due to their religious beliefs a bit strange to me, as they are complaining now about the possibility of the future reversal of what is currently legal and what is not.

“So spare me your complaints because conservative Christians are not compliantly rolling over for you.”

When you spare the rest of us the complaints about how persecuted conservative Christians are because of the unlikely future where their beliefs causes their firing.

#11 Comment By CMPT On February 24, 2018 @ 4:37 pm

MichaelGC: “In other words, if there are no explicit protections in place protecting the employment of gays, then gays are being actively persecuted.”

This is a stupid comment.

Half the states permit any employer to fire a gay person because of his/her sexual orientation and for no other reason. Either you agree that is okay or you don’t. Almost all conservative Christians either think this is okay or they vote for politicians who think it is okay. It is absolutely reasonable to believe that these conservative Christians won’t change their view about that until they suffer similar discrimination. Ideally, they would learn the lesson here without having to personally experience the negative consequences of not extending protections to minority groups. Alas, that seems not to be the case.

Fyi, anytime you have to resort to the phrase “in other words” you’ve lost the argument and should just stop. The only reason you’re re-interpreting the original commenters words is so that you can argue against a straw man. People can discern for themselves the meaning of the comment. The original commenter’s words are easy to understand and don’t require interpretation.

#12 Comment By John On February 24, 2018 @ 4:41 pm

Hound of Ulster pretty much has it right. The hypocrisy goes both ways.

I don’t have to get into the legal ramifications to raise one point that I think so-called places of higher educational learning of oft and right wing persuasions keep missing:

They were set up to be institutions for learning, and no learning occurs unless students are challenged by getting introduced to or exposed to different points of view. Colleges and universities deserving of the name have no sacred cows. They don’t try to suppress alternative points of view in the name of truth, god, diversity, or tolerance. They allow their students to get offended and reflect. They don’t cower when a mob tries to get a speaker disinvited nor do they silence protestors holding a respectfully peaceful protest outside when the speaker gives his or her lecture.

They may have their own beliefs and standards for good behavior but they acknowledge that others disagree.

Some students feel they don’t have to have their viewpoints challenged because they are into the natural sciences and math. They are in the school for an engineering degree. They would be wron. Being challenged to think through their beliefs and thought processes benefits everybody. Even scientists have different opinions.

These so-called colleges and universities would of course establish guidelines creating zones where speech can properly be conducted and “safe” zones where likeminded people could find respite. (Naturally the various student groups – LGBT or Christian Orthodox just to name two – are natural “safe zones”) where likeminded students choose their members.

By these standards, I believe Harvard is failing its students. I don’t have to believe Harvard has affirm this Christian group’s beliefs and nor would I, as an ex-Catholic gay agnostic affirm its members’ beliefs. In fact I emphatically reject them.

I don’t have to wade into the argument surrounding any college or university’s rights to make this argument for diversity exposure. Sure, religious schools must be allowed, for constitutional reasons, to do what they want while public colleges and universities must explicitly refrain from penalizing students on ideological grounds. The First Amendment, after all, tolerates no state-imposed Orthodoxy, whether it be one of its own or another’s making.

But regardless, that doesn’t address the question of whether private and parochial colleges and universities should silence dissenting opinions.

To be quite frank I don’t think any college or university should be in the business of imposing one orthodoxy or another on its students and still keep the title of a school of higher learning. You silence the critics and you should lose the name.

#13 Comment By J. Roberts On February 24, 2018 @ 8:45 pm

Speaking as a Harvard alum, isn’t Rod being pretty hypocritical on this matter? If Catholic universities get to define their notion of what is a moral and just community by kicking out gay and lesbian teachers and staff, then why can’t Harvard get to define its own notion of what is a moral community?

What Rod is essentially saying is that he wants to define what Harvard’s mission is, rather than having Harvard’s community decide for itself what it wants. What a hypocrite! To Rod, only Christians have conscience rights, and only Christian institutions have conscientious rights.

This, in a nutshell, is why religious liberty claims will never win the fight in the public sphere.

#14 Comment By MichaelGC On February 24, 2018 @ 9:05 pm

CMPT says on February 24, 2018 at 4:37 pm:

Half the states permit any employer to fire a gay person because of his/her sexual orientation and for no other reason.

Excuse me for not being all shaken up about it. In all 50 states an employer can also fire a person because of his/her BMI (body mass index) and for no other reason. How do I know that? Because there are no state laws explicitly protecting the employment of people of a certain girth.

Either you agree that is okay or you don’t.

I agree that is OK, because the issue is a big nothing burger. What does it do except generate litigation? Like Siarlys said, employment at will; anyone can quit at any time for any reason or no reason; anyone can be fired at any time for any reason or no reason. That doesn’t mean that it would be smart to up and quit your job, or that it would be wise for an employer to suddenly fire some random employees on a lark, hurting his business. The law lets you do that, even though most people will act ethically and with rational self-interest — workers not quitting unless moving to a better job and giving sufficient notice, employers not terminating anyone unless it has something to do with an employee’s performance or a need to cut payroll.

Almost all conservative Christians either think this is okay or they vote for politicians who think it is okay.

Oh, good grief. Come election time, why would you expect red state conservative Christians to go to the polls having a state ENDA as their top priority?

It is absolutely reasonable to believe that these conservative Christians won’t change their view about that until they suffer similar discrimination. Ideally, they would learn the lesson here without having to personally experience the negative consequences of not extending protections to minority groups. Alas, that seems not to be the case.

To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t lose sleep over the self-created, self-identified, always squalling minority, the LGBTs. It is a civil rights movement for the wealthy and well-connected. I know that the holy grail being sought here is passage of the federal ENDA. Like SSM, passage of federal ENDA is one of those things the LGBT machine says you have to enthusiastically favor or you are an altogether horrible person who hates gays and wants all of them to lose their jobs.

At any rate, like Devinicus said, it’s a zero-sum game being played. They don’t call this a culture war for nothing. Let the battle be joined.

#15 Comment By MichaelGC On February 24, 2018 @ 9:28 pm

Let me amend that last paragraph. No, it’s not a zero-sum game. This is more like a city under siege. If the defenders hold out, the surrounding army leaves in search of other prey and life goes on. If the defenders lose, the city is sacked, its women ravished, the survivors sold into slavery. We should expect no quarter from the aggressors.

#16 Comment By Adam Loumeau On February 24, 2018 @ 10:41 pm

I couldn’t disagree more with the actions of the HCFA. That being said, we have to allow people to live their convictions, particularly convictions that for better or worse are rooted in history. The moral arrogance of the left is astounding.

#17 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 24, 2018 @ 10:41 pm

Some students feel they don’t have to have their viewpoints challenged because they are into the natural sciences and math. They are in the school for an engineering degree. They would be wrong.

Expanding on what John said here, it would be useful to refer to the 19th century debates about the age of the earth, which had Lord Kelvin at the center of dispute, with an estimate we now know to be clearly erroneous, for reasons he could not foresee, but anticipated might turn up in the future. Likewise discussions of whether airborne travel would be feasible, whether bacteria were actually a cause of disease, whether it did any good for a woman delivering a baby if the obstetrician washed his hands…

#18 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 24, 2018 @ 10:56 pm

The only reason you’re re-interpreting the original commenters words is so that you can argue against a straw man.

That sounds like a classic example of re-interpreting the original commenter’s words so you can argue against a straw man. The use of the word “only” is highly suspect.

Half the states permit any employer to fire a gay person because of his/her sexual orientation and for no other reason.

You REALLY haven’t been paying attention, have you? Most states permit any employer to fire any person for any reason or no reason. Either you think thats OK, or you think its OK unless the employer’s reason is that the employee is gay?

But an employer cannot fire someone for a discriminatory reason if the class is protected…

Well, at least you have debunked CMPT’s argument ad hominem. But frankly I think the entire framework of “protected classes” is a problem. Its not a statutory term originally. It is a term used by judges as they sought evidentiary standards and standards for judicial reasoning when applying rather broadly worded civil rights laws.

Once we start making a list of “protected classes” there will be a never-ending line of definable subgroups within the population crying “Boo hoo, we want to be a protected class too.” Some of these claims will have some modicum of merit, and others will not, but will claim merit by analogy.

The entire human race should be a protected class. Employees of employers should be a protected class. The valid principle is that employers may not fire employees except for reasons bearing directly on competence and performance.

Would this protect gay employees? Most certainly, at least in most instances. Although frankly, I might look with a more jaundiced eye on a gay man fondling male students than I would on a heterosexual woman hugging the students in her kindergarten class, generally. There are REAL differences, and REAL sub-classes within the category “gay” that bear a bit of watching.

On the other hand, religion is a protected class, even though none of those things apply to its adherents.

Religion was singled out for extensive protection at the outset of our current constitutional framework. Its in the DNA of what the American republic is. If you don’t like that, there are remedies available. All you have to do is persuade two thirds of both houses of congress and three-fourths of the state legislatures.

#19 Comment By Tim On February 24, 2018 @ 11:08 pm

“This is why you should not believe the power-holders when they talk about ‘tolerance’ and ‘dialogue’ on these matters. They will satisfy themselves with nothing short of the obliteration of dissent. It’s not a bug; it’s a feature. Simply to continue to exist — to pray, to worship, to refuse to capitulate — is an act of courageous resistance. At this point in the long war, refusing to surrender is a victory.”

The current approach by many (not all) on the left – along with the tired charge that “conservatives are the aggressors in the culture war” – reminds me of that guy who seems to show up from time to time in a pickup basketball game. He charges you on his way to the basket, knocking you over, and calling “foul” every time you have the audacity to fail to move out of his way. A negative action – not moving in the face of his charge – is treated as a form of positive aggression against him. That’s increasingly the playbook against those who maintain their traditional convictions on matters of gender and sexuality.

#20 Comment By Roberts On February 25, 2018 @ 10:48 am

So this is basically a replacing of one form of hegemony with another, no?

We used to have Christian hegemony to a greater or lesser extent in issues pertaining to morality, and now we have a decidedly secular, anti-Christian hegemony in these issues. Why would the secular leftist hegemony of 2018 be any better at creating space for Christians when Christian hegemonists weren’t particularly good at creating space for dissenting moral minorities?

Yes, I get it. It sucks that your viewpoints aren’t in the majority any more. It’s all about cultural power. If you want to retreat into Benedict option communities, all the better for the brand of hegemony I prefer. If you don’t want to retreat, I think you should quit whining and fight to persuade people of why your cultural ideals matter.

#21 Comment By Moosebreath On February 25, 2018 @ 11:06 am

Michael GC and Tim,

The culture war has been going on for centuries. It is a sad commentary that you are just noticing it now because your side has lost a few battles.

#22 Comment By CMPT On February 25, 2018 @ 12:53 pm

Siarlys Jenkins:

The use of the word “only” is highly suspect.

Fair point. I should have said it appears that his use of the phrase “in other words” is for the purpose of arguing against a straw man. I don’t see how this change illuminates the fundamental critique of his use of the phrase “in other words,” but, okay.

You REALLY haven’t been paying attention, have you? Most states permit any employer to fire any person for any reason or no reason.

Actually, it appears you haven’t kept up with this conversation or many of the others that have discussed whether sexual orientation should be a protected class. The issue was not whether we should or shouldn’t have at-will employment; it’s whether sexual orientation should be a protected class. I think it was fairly obvious that the original commenter was criticizing the refusal of many to grant protected-class status to sexual orientation while granting it to religion and several other categories. I did not think it necessary, and I presume the original commenter did not think it necessary, to give a rundown on the merits, or lack thereof, with at-will employment when we’re discussing the much more narrow topic of exceptions to at-will employment.

“Well, at least you have debunked CMPT’s argument ad hominem.”

You may want to revisit my comment, or revisit the definition of ad hominem. I attacked MichaelGC’s comment – not MichaelGC.

MichaelGC: I agree that is OK, because the issue is a big nothing burger. What does it do except generate litigation? Like Siarlys said, employment at will; anyone can quit at any time for any reason or no reason; anyone can be fired at any time for any reason or no reason. That doesn’t mean that it would be smart to up and quit your job, or that it would be wise for an employer to suddenly fire some random employees on a lark, hurting his business.

Based on comments you’ve made on this thread and others, you seem to believe traditionalist Christians are at risk of losing status in the workplace because of their traditionalist beliefs. I don’t know why you think employers will fire Christians and hurt their business on a lark, but won’t do the same to gays. It’s especially unclear why you would think this when the number of workplace complaints by LGBTs is much greater than the number of workplace complaints by Christians.

#23 Comment By CMPT On February 25, 2018 @ 12:55 pm

his use of the phrase “in other words” is for the OSTENSIBLE purpose of arguing against a straw man.

#24 Comment By Eric Todd On February 25, 2018 @ 5:28 pm

As a Harvard alum, I find the implications of this decision rather shocking. Harvard is essentially proscribing Christian groups from being Christian. Christianity (like Judaism and Islam) has always believed that homosexuality is wrong and has always prohibited its leaders from being sexually active in anything other than heterosexual marriage. It is thus a significant violation of the freedom of religion to suggest that Christian groups must have policies and sexual ethics that have no basis in traditional Christianity. The founders of Harvard would today be forbidden from practicing their faith.

Of course, as a private university, Harvard has considerable latitude in deciding what it will and will not allow. But if this probation stands, it basically sends a message to students that Harvard does not respect freedom of religion, except on its terms. That may or may not be legal, but it certainly will not be popular amongst traditional Christian, Jewish and Muslim students and their parents.

It may be that Christianity is incompatible with Harvard, in which case we will send our kids elsewhere. Hillsdale will benefit, but Harvard will be sadly a much less diverse place.

#25 Comment By The Scientist 880 On February 25, 2018 @ 8:59 pm

“It may be that Christianity is incompatible with Harvard, in which case we will send our kids elsewhere. Hillsdale will benefit, but Harvard will be sadly a much less diverse place.”

You think Harvard cares if you decide to send your kids there instead of hillsdale? Harvard is arguably the most prestigious school in the entire world. They can fill their class with valedictorians many times over and any number of world leaders have come from the school. Why do they care about a handful of religious conservatives? Most of the kids of religious conservatives couldn’t get in anyway. They can fill any seat your kids would give up with 100 equally qualified students at minimum. They have an endowment bigger than many countries.

[NFR: You have said in the past that you are a black man. Imagine how it would sound if someone wrote, “Most of the kids of black parents couldn’t get in anyway.” Would you call that assumption bigoted? I would, even though it’s actually true that most kids, period, couldn’t get into Harvard. I invite you to think hard about the bigotry you have towards religious conservatives. It’s ugly. And by the way, “religious conservatives” includes pious Muslims and Orthodox Jews. Do you scorn them too? — RD]

#26 Comment By David J. White On February 25, 2018 @ 9:53 pm

‘Maybe “winning converts” isn’t the main goal; maybe “living the faith” is.’

See, I always thought that for Christians, executing the Great Commission WAS living the faith.

As Rod points out over and over again in The Benedict Option, we can’t give others what we don’t have ourselves. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.

#27 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 25, 2018 @ 9:56 pm

Actually, it appears you haven’t kept up with this conversation or many of the others that have discussed whether sexual orientation should be a protected class….

He says as he conspicuously overlooks my direct response to Moosebreath belatedly raising the concept of “protected class.”

Originally I was responding to an argument that DID NOT mention “protected class” but sloppily claimed the law “allows” employers to fire gays, as if employers needed state permission.

This is a bit like Clarence Thomas’s convoluted assertion that “a state may permit abortion” but, in Thomas’s dissenting view, is not REQUIRED to do so. He has it all backwards. State action is not required to “permit” abortion at all. State action is required to forbid it. And that positive state action to impose criminal penalties is what the federal constitution restrains.

What several of you apparently meant to say was, X number of states have no law which forbids employees being fired, or applicants being passed over for hiring, on the grounds that the employer doesn’t want to employ gays. I don’t much care about protecting gays, per se. I want to get to the heart of employment as a social necessity, and make employees of employers the “protected class.”

#28 Comment By Eric Todd On February 26, 2018 @ 4:00 am

“You think Harvard cares if you decide to send your kids there instead of hillsdale? Harvard is arguably the most prestigious school in the entire world. They can fill their class with valedictorians many times over and any number of world leaders have come from the school. Why do they care about a handful of religious conservatives?”

I don’t think many of the secular Harvard faculty care if traditional religious students are denied access to the academic tables of Harvard. But a significant number of parents of prospective students would care, as would many traditional religious alumni like myself who pad the coffers of the Harvard endowment. So ultimately members of the Harvard Corporation would care and they would care a lot.

About 25% of the US population attends religious services frequently and most of these are traditional religious believers (mostly Christians, but also Jews). Another say 10% of the population attends less frequently, but would be loath to send their kids to an institution that openly discriminates against their religious beliefs. So would the Harvard Corporation like to discourage over 100 million of Americans a priori from considering Harvard?

Then of course there are the foreign students. Roughly half of students active in Christian groups on Harvard’s campus are Asians (my own estimate based on observation), many of them foreign from South Korea, but also Taiwan and increasingly China. A disproportionate number of Asian applicants are religious, because some of the best schools in South Korea and elsewhere are religious (particularly Presbyterian). Discriminating against traditional religious students would cause a significant dent in Asian applicants, some of the strongest students in science and maths at Harvard.

And of course, Harvard is keen to attract Muslim students, who will not apply if Harvard is considered hostile to traditional religion.

So would the Harvard Corporation care if hundreds of millions of students boycotted Harvard because of its religious bigotry? Absolutely.

Would Harvard still be able to “fill their class with valedictorians”? Of course, but if a quarter of applicants disappeared over night, entrance scores of applicants would decline for the first time in years. That would hurt the reputation of Harvard as the premier academic institution in the world. Harvard is already challenged academically by schools like Hillsdale that actually teach from the Great Books, rather than needing to offer “ethnic studies” courses. On-line education threatens to change radically the academic paradigm. Would Harvard want to shoot itself in the foot within this context by discriminating against religious students? I would hope not.

#29 Comment By Rob G On February 26, 2018 @ 6:50 am

“What Rod is essentially saying is that he wants to define what Harvard’s mission is, rather than having Harvard’s community decide for itself what it wants. What a hypocrite! To Rod, only Christians have conscience rights, and only Christian institutions have conscientious rights.”

Harvard can do whatever it damn well pleases. But perhaps it should stop pontificating about “tolerance” and “diversity” while its actions reflect the opposite. That’s where the hypocrisy lies. Yet the Progs will never, ever see this.

1) Intolerance will not be tolerated.
2) We liberals get to define intolerance.

#30 Comment By Cynthia McLean On February 26, 2018 @ 1:58 pm

I am an Orthodox Christian and simply do not understand the obsession Mr. Dreher etal have with LGBTQ folks, many of whom are deeply faithful Christians. Sex is NOT the centre of the Gospels, Justice and care for the poor and outcast are. And if Catholic schools and hospitals can defend their “moral universes” by refusing space for LGBTQ folks, I believe Harvard can defend its moral universe too.

[NFR: I am an Orthodox Christian, and simply do not understand the obsession you have with denying core teachings of the faith you profess. Repent! — RD]

#31 Comment By GregR On February 26, 2018 @ 4:47 pm

Rob,

Do you have any evidence that Christian groups are being persecuted or are they just being forced to abide by the same rules as every other group on campus? It very well may be that Harvard is incompatible with being Christian but that is not discrimination. So far as I understand the story Harvard has a rule that in order to be a certified campus group you must abide by certain standards of conduct, one of those standards requires non-discrimination as to sexual orientation.

That seems like a pretty clear standard that HCFA violated. The results from there were pretty predictable. HCFA violated the school’s standards and were suspended. But that is not discrimination. To show discrimination you now need to show that Harvard did not enforce this rule as to other similarly situated groups.

I guess it should also be pointed out that the group in question has specifically denied that they discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and have repeatedly said that being gay is absolutely permissible with membership and leadership in the group. But that the asked this woman to resign because she chose to engage in pre-marital sex. A claim that Harvard rejected as being selectively enforced in this instance.

#32 Comment By Cavin On February 26, 2018 @ 7:41 pm

I agree that there’s a zero-sum game at play, but it’s not a game between Christians and LGBTQ people. Instead, the zero-sum game is betweeen social traditionalists and pragmatic materialism, as Del Noce recognized. Like it or not, we are a low-context culture that demands pragmatic justifications for restricting individual liberty. And private institutions are not out of bounds for refusing to extend their imprimatur to organizations that discriminate against LGBTQ people.

And please stop making this a Christian issue. When I last checked, Christians in the US were fairly evenly split on the propriety of same-sex relationships.

I grew up in Japan, which operates under a kind of industrial feudalism. Traditionalism generally. Required a high-context culture, and a high-context culture typically requires exclusion of certain groups. To date, social traditionalism has never taken root in a culture whose ruling class wasn’t racially and socially homogeneous. I know Japanese culture fairly well, and I speak Japanese with near-native fluency. But I will always be an outsider. I could live thee for decades, and I would remain a second-class citizen with limited rights. Such exclusivity is necessary for the working of any traditionalist culture.

That’s why I distrust social conservatives in the US. They never explicitly identify who they plan on excluding from power if they ever get control of the reins? Non-white people? Non-Christians? Who? Calls for traditionalism are, by their very nature, calls for social power to reside with a racially and socially homogeneous elite. Traditionalists owe us pragmatic materialists an explanation of who that elite would be.

#33 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 26, 2018 @ 10:24 pm

Do you have any evidence that Christian groups are being persecuted or are they just being forced to abide by the same rules as every other group on campus? It very well may be that Harvard is incompatible with being Christian but that is not discrimination.

It is a violation of the United States Constitution to require a religious organization to subscribe, in faith and doctrine, to “the same rules” as anyone or anything else. (Harvard, as a private institution, may not be bound in this respect by the First Amendment, but you argued something much broader than ‘Harvard has a right to be arbitrary and capricious in its own way,’ which to an extent, it does.)

The religion clauses of the First Amendment sets the practice of religion, per se, outside the jurisdiction of government, and forbids government to conform to any given religious doctrine as secular law. That’s why religious schools don’t have to give teachers due process, the LDS church was free to exclude people with high epidermal melanin concentrations from the priesthood, etc. Anti-discrimination laws don’t apply.

A religious organization could adhere to a doctrine that anyone with more than three moles above the navel is a spawn of Satan and ineligible for membership. Its none of the law’s business. No civil rights law can require the Roman Catholic Church to ordain women as priests. There is no jurisdiction. If a religious tradition teaches that sex is to be practiced only within marriage, and marriage is the union of a man and a woman, then ipso facto someone in an active homosexual union will be in violation. They suffer no civil disability, they just can’t be in good standing with that religious tradition. So what?

LGBTQ folks, many of whom are deeply faithful Christians.

That all depends on which of many variants of Christian faith and doctrine you adhere to. There are Pentecostal churches filled with sexually active gay couples, altar calls and all. They are protected by the First Amendment too. Whether they will all burn in hell is unknown and conjectural. Sex being not the center of Christian faith, why should someone who’s urges do not conform to a church’s doctrine make their sexual desires the center of debate over church teaching?

#34 Comment By GregR On February 27, 2018 @ 12:27 am

Siarlys,

And if this was a public school or a state funded school then the argument would be different because there the constitution demands that public entities get special treatment that is not available to secular groups. They are called reasonable accommodations.

But it is definitionally NOT discrimination for a private entity to treat all groups the same. At worst the Christian group can make a claim that they have lost a special privilege they previously enjoyed. To show discrimination they would have to show that they are being treated differently, and worse, than all other similarly situated student organizations.

#35 Comment By Rob G On February 27, 2018 @ 7:28 am

“That’s why I distrust social conservatives in the US. They never explicitly identify who they plan on excluding from power if they ever get control of the reins? Non-white people? Non-Christians? Who? Calls for traditionalism are, by their very nature, calls for social power to reside with a racially and socially homogeneous elite. Traditionalists owe us pragmatic materialists an explanation of who that elite would be.”

There is a difference between a traditionalism that is actively seeking to gain (or regain) some sort of hegemony, and one that is working a rear-guard action to “strengthen the things that remain.” Many liberals/progressives make the mistake of confusing the standard-issue mainstream conservatives with the many Burke/Kirk types that post here. They are not the same.

#36 Comment By The Scientist 880 On February 27, 2018 @ 12:14 pm

Rob G,

“There is a difference between a traditionalism that is actively seeking to gain (or regain) some sort of hegemony, and one that is working a rear-guard action to “strengthen the things that remain.” Many liberals/progressives make the mistake of confusing the standard-issue mainstream conservatives with the many Burke/Kirk types that post here. They are not the same.”

The reason why white conservatism is not trusted is because not all white conservatives are racist. I will even grant that most are not. Please remember that I have stated that. Most white conservatives are not racist. The reason to distrust them is that white conservatives aren’t anti-racist or anti-homophobic or anti-sexist. You say there is a difference between the mainstream conservatives and the Burke/Kirk types but for those groups on the receiving end of the Burke/Kirk types, there is no difference because those mainstream conservatives won’t stand up and defend your rights. As long as the tax cuts are coming and deregulation is happening, they couldn’t care less about police brutality or inner city neighborhoods or gay rights of any kind.

If I am walking down the street and am being mugged, the guy who sees me being mugged but doesn’t call the cops or attempt to help me isn’t my ally. They aren’t much better than the mugger from my perspective. Political interests of a minority perspective such as racism or tax loopholes can and do win when they do not experience countervailing force from the majority. There is no countervailing for within the Republican Party against bigotry against unfavored groups. Look how Michael Steele was treated at CPAC having his contribution over 40 years to the Republican Party completely denigrated and then having Matt Schlapp tell him that it is his fault he is receiving this racism because he dared to question Trump. It has been crickets around here on that count. There has been CPAC coverage but no one sees it as important enough to speak out against that kind of racism.

#37 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 27, 2018 @ 1:34 pm

GregR, you are making a good faith effort, but you are getting your terms all wrong.

“Reasonable accommodation” is not what “public entities” get that “secular groups” are denied. Not even close. “Reasonable accommodation” is most commonly used in the Americans with Disabilities Act, for the degree to which individuals and businesses are required to go out of their way to “accommodate” a disability.

Not to refrain from discrimination against a disability, but to affirmatively discriminate to alleviate the impact of a very real and objective disability. E.g., nobody built a staircase for the purpose of putting obstacles in the way of wheelchairs, but the law, rightly in my view, requires going to extra trouble and expense to accommodate access by someone who needs a wheelchair. An apartment building that, for the safety and comfort of all residents, has a no-pet rule, is not discriminating against people with disabilities, but, if someone with a service animal wants to rent there, the management has to “accommodate” that specific service animal, and no, it doesn’t have to let everyone else bring in a pet because “equality.”

I also note that “public entities” and “secular groups” are not in the least opposites or mutually exclusive. You probably meant to say something different, but its not clear what.

But it is definitionally NOT discrimination for a private entity to treat all groups the same. At worst the Christian group can make a claim that they have lost a special privilege they previously enjoyed.

Again, you are contradicting yourself by sloppy use of language. Words have meaning. They do not mean whatever you choose them to mean if you wish to communicate effectively with your fellow citizens.

Of course it is not discrimination to treat all groups the same — whether a public or private entity doesn’t matter. Just, as an objective fact, it is not discrimination when there is no discrimination.

The Christian group has not lost a “privilege” that distinguished them from anyone else. They have lost recognition that they previously shared in common with all other groups, because the private institution disapproves of something about the Christian group. This is in fact discrimination, objectively, empirically. And there is nothing wrong, per se, with discrimination. You have to attach a modifier to make discrimination wrong. Invidious discrimination, discrimination with no rational basis, these are wrong. Discrimination between five year olds and twenty five year olds in voting rights, ownership of property, etc. is quite rational. Its still discrimination.

A more rational statement would be, Harvard as a private institution is free to discriminate within the boundaries of its private existence as a private institution, which a publicly-funded, governmentally affiliated institution would not be free to do. Others may of course criticize it for using its discretion badly, but its not appealable to the courts.

You might want to look at the Supreme Court ruling in Church of Lukumi Babalu Ay v. City of Hialeah. In a nutshell, Hialeah, which had a Cuban immigrant majority, passed an ordinance to suppress Santeria worship. Since Santeria practice animal sacrifice to orishas, who are a syncretization of Yoruba dieties and Catholic saints, the ordinance forbade killing animals in city limits, then made a series of exceptions a mile long.

The Supreme Court ruled that this was an infringement on the free exercise of religion of individuals of the Santeria faith. (It was unanimous, by the way). There were all kinds of amicus briefs, many utterly irrelevant. For instance. PETA filed in support of the city, because PETA is opposed to killing animals. The court noted that IF Hialeah had forbidden ALL killing of animals for ANY reason, then the sincere religious belief of the Santeria would not have merited an exemption from a neutral law of general application. But, since killing for food consumption, pest control, and a variety of other purposes was allowed, clearly, the ordinance was targeting religious exercise, not taking a general stand against killing animals.

Harvard can do what it wants, and being a high profile institution, it will receive kudos and criticisms from outside its ivied walls by people who admire or disapprove of its actions. Harvard might well be vulnerable to legal action if it retaliated against students or faculty who happened to belong to a church, off campus, which had doctrines that Harvard disapproved of.

To the extent that First Amendment principals apply, no law which prescribed “You may not say X, you may not think X, you may not proselytize X, could withstand judicial scrutiny, because government has no jurisdiction to proscribe speech, thought, or teaching. Its still perfectly feasible to enforce a law that a grocery store must serve all who come to shop for food, meaning “we don’t serve _____” is unlawful, no matter what you fill the blank with.

#38 Comment By Rob G On February 27, 2018 @ 1:54 pm

“You say there is a difference between the mainstream conservatives and the Burke/Kirk types but for those groups on the receiving end of the Burke/Kirk types, there is no difference because those mainstream conservatives won’t stand up and defend your rights. As long as the tax cuts are coming and deregulation is happening, they couldn’t care less about police brutality or inner city neighborhoods or gay rights of any kind.”

But what does that have to do with the conservatives who post HERE? Do you hear anyone on here screaming for tax cuts and deregulation? Which among us regular posters here comes across as holding any sort of brief for the GOP?

I think you’re confused about American conservatism, and are making assumptions rooted in that confusion.

#39 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 28, 2018 @ 8:07 pm

Rob G is right on the money. If he and Rod and Viking and a lot of others here formed a political party, I would seldom vote for their candidates, but it would be one I could happily debate with, do honest horse trading with, and run against in reasonably clean elections, rather than stonewalling each other as the Dems and the GOP do to each other now.

#40 Comment By buddyglass On February 28, 2018 @ 10:37 pm

The greatest opportunity for the winsome approach is when you’re mistreated; this arguably qualifies. It also gives HFCA to publicly delineate the difference between sexual orientation and sexual behavior. Harvard’s student manual prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, whereas HFCA asked that the student leader step down because of sexual behavior, as distinct from her orientation.