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Quiet Christian Academic Resisters

A reader writes:

I am writing primarily today as a family member (wife and daughter) of two men who work as professors in higher education (my husband and my father), both in the humanities, because I have noted a number of times your frustration (especially recently) with American academics with tenure who will not “stand up” against the SJWs. I think that there may be a lot more resistance from these Christian academics, particularly those who are working in the humanities, than you may be giving credit for.

Contrary to popular belief, it is just as easy to fire (or otherwise get rid of) a tenured professor as it is to fire a contract professor in most American colleges and universities, and it can actually be easier, legally speaking, to fire a professor with tenure than to fire one on contract when there is any issue of “misconduct” (and now administrations can define that how they will, to include making students or other faculty feel “unsafe/afraid” when exposed to certain ideas, when co-workers’ lifestyle choices aren’t enthusiastically congratulated by their peers, or to include nonconformity to the new linguistic orthodoxy, etc… ). I wanted to assure you that there are many professors (tenured and not) in this country who are steadily taking positions informed by their Christian beliefs week in and week out. They know that in doing so they are gradually giving their administrations and coworkers a treasure-trove list that is updated, recorded, and hidden away in the faculty file record compiled about them, so that if there is ever the political will to fire them (or otherwise eliminate their position), it will not be hard for the administration to do so. Christian academics do this knowingly, and they try to do it deftly and with wisdom about which hill is the right one to die on. Many academic spouses (like me) keep our careers in the private sector at least in part because we know that eventually our spouses may have to lose their careers in order to keep their integrity as Christians (with or without tenure).

I think you are right in understanding that many of these social battles are fought first in academia, and then work their way down into the general culture, and I think you are right in thinking that American academics could be doing more (as we all could) to speak up against the errant ideologies held by the SJWs. I also think that many of them are already taking stands, a lot, and just haven’t been sacked for it (yet).

For what it’s worth, we (as parents) are not actively trying to encourage any of our three children (about the same ages as yours) to pursue academia as a way to support themselves or their families in adulthood (though our oldest seems bent on this idea, in the humanities – God help him). I feel that at the very least, especially if they go into the humanities, they need to have some kind of vocational training (electrician, plumber, etc…???) to fall back on when their Christian principles get them into “trouble.”

Thank you for the important, enlightening, and often so encouraging work you are doing. I look forward to reading your next book. We’ll look forward to seeing you if/when you are next in our neck of the woods.

Sincerely,

academic wife & daughter in Virginia

I appreciate this e-mail. What do you academic readers think? Is she onto something?

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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