Diversity?

One of the mantra’s of contemporary education is “celebrate diversity.” Like all jingles, it contains an important truth. Unfortunately, the proponents are not always consistent with their stated values.

On the positive side, there are many advantages with diversity. Societies with different ethnic groups can approach problems from different angles. We all have blind spots, dialogue with others help us identify the limits and oversight contained in our finitude. Differences can also be fun. We can also remember the class clown, the class intellectual and other individuals that fell into various stereotypes. Who would be around to laugh if we were all the class clown. Who would be the egghead if all of us were in the top 1% academic group?  Differences also allow us to specialize in our callings. A hallmark of capitalism is that we have a differentiated workforce. Carpenters, computer programmers, trashmen, cleaners, politicians, everyone can strive to enter the work area of their choosing.

The negative side of diversity is that it often becomes diversity for diversity’s sake. Proponents won’t just be satisfied with celebrating differing interests, they find themselves compelled to squelch certain differences. While they claim we should tolerate others beliefs, what they actually mean is that we should affirm others beliefs and behavior.  Toleration is good in the political realm. But for the Christian, toleration of heresy in one’s church is anathema.

Christians understand diversity, we just believe that diversity must be centered in the area of Truth. We don’t celebrate Satan not because we hate diversity but because we don’t celebrate evil. You may say well diversity proponents are telling us to celebrate evil. But look harder. What you will often find is a subtle and not so subtle resentment against any religion that claims it holds the truth. As long as you say, my religion is true to me, then you are Okay. But if you say, my religion is true and yours is wrong, then watch out for the diversity police.

Few places is this conundrum more clear than in universities. Oh they love to spout how diverse they are but look closer. How many of them have Evangelicals on their faculty? Diversity? How many of them have actual conservatives who believe in limited government, lower taxation, personal responsibility, the importance of religion and family? I see schools advertise for diversity in their hiring, but I don’t see them looking for members of these two groups. Visit our collaborator company that website for hooked up science.

Certainly, there are limited positions. Universities can’t represent every view point. That would be impossible and totally unworkable. But why don’t these schools invite bonifide Evangelical scholars into their classrooms when they begin to talk of the religious right? The same would be appropriate if the subject was Islam, Judaism, Fascism, Communism, Feminism etc.

So the next time someone spouts off about celebrating diversity. Agree with them. Then ask, when will you have an Evangelical speak in your class?

  1. Stephen,

    Your piece above certainly resonates with me. I work in the academic environment though I am not an academic; I am a senior manager at a Cambridge college.

    What I have discovered, and you allude to this above, is that the diversity flag is flown to show what a “lovely” tolerant organisation we are.

    The fact is though we are tolerant of:

    · Every possible sexual orientation; and are in fact rather embarrassed by the traditional idea of heterosexual;
    · Radical feminism which is seen as building strong women, though strong men are considered dysfunctional;
    · Each political viewpoint, so long as we are looking at the spectrum from centre to left;
    · Every possible “type of family”, though to be married with a couple of children is seen as passé, we should encourage more diversity in family types;
    · Every possible educational background, except we assume that those without a degree or above are not able to be as rounded and capable as those who have;
    · All other belief systems and none, except Christianity because it dares to claim there is only one God and one way to God (how intolerant!).

    I could go on, but you get the picture. In the UK this agenda is hitting the spot at the highest levels of government, having moved past academia and on into politics, policies and legislation.

    The question that rational evangelical Christians(now there are three words that don’t sit comfortably in the thinking of our diversity friends…) need to ask of themselves and of God, is “how do we respond to this attack on our faith, and ultimately on our God, with a positive message?”
    I am reaching the conclusion that we have let ourselves get in this mess by our failure, over the past 40 years or so, to stand firmly on God’s word and correct misunderstandings as they percolated through.
    I believe that the Lord is challenging us in the UK ( what about the US?) afresh, to boldly live Christian lives and to take the gospel out to our own country with His wisdom, compassion and power, the slumber of the Church is to end; I am challenged by Moses words in Deuteronomy 30: 11-20 we have a choice. Good hermeneutics, what do you think?

  2. Tough question. Certainly you are correct that Christians need to faithfully live out their Christianity. Certainly we have failed to do this on many levels. However, note that even C.S. Lewis, not your typical Evangelical, had a hard time with England’s two prestigious universities. Did he ever get Tenure? I am not sure. I take a rather negative view. I don’t believe publicly funded universities will ever be diverse in the sense of granting Evangelicals a place at the table. In fact, if you want true diversity go to an evangelical school. We aren’t afraid to engage opposing views. In fact, we have our students read books we strenously disagree with.

    The second question is should we try to get a place at the table? Here I am conflicted. On the one hand, I don’t want to say that some Evangelical may feel called to try to break the ivy Curtain. I just wonder how much he/she would have to compromise to become “acceptable.” On the other hand, I wonder if it is worth the effort. the fact is universities have less of an impact on society than they think they do. Would it be more effective to put our energy into the poor and downtrodden then to try to gain respectability from people whose lives are lived in direct opposition to Christ? After all, how successful was Jesus with the Pharisees, Saducees, Herodians? But he had rock star status with the poor.

    I don’t think we should go out of our way to ignore the Ivy curtain. I just question how hard we should try to cut our way into it.

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