My good friend Eric Chabot did an episode of the The Table podcast, which is the culture podcast of Dallas Theological Seminary. Eric does campus ministry at Ohio State University, one of the largest universities in the United States. He has a frontline view of the challenges that Christians face on campus, which is a battle I am so passionate about.
00:15 What does a typical RC meeting look like at Ohio State?
02:44 Key social issues facing Ohio students
05:30 How do you engage with the same-sex issue on campus?
11:01 How do you engage with political issues on campus?
13:08 How do you engage with social justice issues on campus?
16:19 How would you describe the Christian environment on campus?
18:33 Advice for parents considering Ohio State for their child
I give this podcast and the discussion my highest recommendation. It’s so practical, and so different from what you hear in church from pastors who seem to be totally unaware of how worldviews conflict on the university campus. This podcast is practical and hands-on.
I just want to excerpt a few questions to get you interested enough to listen:
Dr. Darrell Bock:
Ok. Well, that’s the intellectual background. Let’s move on to the other questions I told you we were going to discuss. The social pressures of campus? This, and I’ve done a handful of these interviews, in fact I think you’re the 5th or 6th campus that we’ve done.
We’ve done UCLA, UC Irvine, California, San Diego, A&M and Princeton, and the interesting thing is that as we move from campus to campus and I go to social issues, that – those kind of are more varied than the intellectual stuff. The intellectual stuff seems to be pretty consistent from campus to campus.
But the social challenges really are a reflection of the environment of the campus itself and certain emphasis are tied to certain campuses. So, what are the social challenges that students face in terms of their walk at Ohio State?
Dr. Darrell Bock:
Ok. Well, let’s turn our attention to the final two questions that I want to be sure and get through, and that is you’re giving advice – let’s start with parents – you’re giving advice to parents. They’re thinking about, you know, sending their kid to Ohio State.
What do you regard as the, as keys for the preparation of that student that a parent should be thinking about? Perhaps in particular, thinking about their junior and senior years, they’re getting ready to think about college and the way you prepare a student for college and the choices and the freedom that they’re gonna fall into. How do you, what advice would you give to parents?
Dr. Darrell Bock:
Ok. This may seem like a related question, but I do think the demands are slightly different and that is what advice do you give to youth leaders and to pastors as they are preparing kids who are going through their church programs for university?
And here, I sorta have in mind what kinds of things would you hope a youth leader who’s dealing with high school students, what kinds of issues do you hope that they’re dealing with and treating so that the student is prepared for the campus experience?
That’s why I focus so much on same-sex marriage and politics on this blog. We really have to explain to young people why natural marriage is best, and why the free enterprise system is best. We are seeing now the challenge that the combination of same-sex marriage and big secular government (socialism) poses for religious liberty.
Here’s a great story from The Weekly Standard. It’s hard for me to slice it up so I can make the point of the article, but I’ll try, and if you like it, you go read the whole thing.
The author Devorah Goldman says this:
“I can’t have you participate in class anymore.”
I was on my way out of class when my social welfare and policy professor casually called me over to tell me this. The friendliness of her tone did not match her words, and I attempted a shocked, confused apology. It was my first semester at the Hunter College School of Social Work, and I was as yet unfamiliar with the consistent, underlying threat that characterized much of the school’s policy and atmosphere. This professor was simply more open and direct than most.
I asked if I had said or done anything inappropriate or disrespectful, and she was quick to assure me that it was not my behavior that was the problem. No: It was my opinions. Or, as she put it, “I have to give over this information as is.”
I spent the rest of that semester mostly quiet, frustrated, and missing my undergraduate days, when my professors encouraged intellectual diversity and give-and-take. I attempted to take my case to a higher-up at school, an extremely nice, fair professor who insisted that it was in my own best interest not to rock the boat. I was doing well in his class, and I believed him when he told me he wanted me to continue doing well. He explained to me that people who were viewed as too conservative had had problems graduating in the past, and he didn’t want that to happen to me. I thought he was joking . . . until I realized he wasn’t.
[…]Two hundred thirty-five master’s programs in the United States are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), which requires schools to “advocate for human rights and social and economic justice” and to “engage in practices that advance social and economic justice” as part of their curricula. As Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), points out, the CSWE standards act as “an invitation for schools to discriminate against students with dissenting views.”
Lukianoff discovered the abusive culture fostered by CSWE after several students complained about their treatment in social work programs. Emily Brooker, a Christian student at Missouri State University’s School of Social Work in 2006, was asked by her professor to sign a letter to the Missouri legislature in favor of homosexual adoption. When she explained that doing so would violate her religious beliefs and requested a different assignment, she was subjected to a two-and-a-half-hour interrogation by an ethics committee and charged with a “Level Three Grievance” (the most severe kind). Brooker was not permitted to have an advocate or a tape recorder with her at the ethics meeting, during which she was told to sign a contract promising that she would “close the gap” between her religious beliefs and the values of the social work profession. At the risk of having her degree withheld, Brooker acquiesced.
Bill Felkner, a student at Rhode Island College’s School of Social Work, was instructed to lobby the Rhode Island legislature for several policies he did not support. In addition, RIC’s policy internship requirements for graduate students included forcing students to advance policies that would further “progressive social change.” When Felkner accepted an internship in the policy department of Republican Rhode Island governor Don Carcieri’s office, he received a letter from Lenore Olsen, chair of the Social Work Department, informing him that he had violated their requirements and could no longer pursue a master’s degree in social work policy.
[…]And so I sat, zombie-like, through the strange and sad reality that is groupthink for two long years. In a publicly funded school in America’s greatest city, I was censored, threatened, and despised by my teachers. I left school after graduation feeling that something had been stolen from me. I wanted to go back and argue with my teachers some more, ask them, for example, whether a description of Reagan’s economic policies as “nightmarish” in a textbook could be considered unbiased in any context. I wished I had stood up more often for my white male friends in class, asked people if they really believed that Band-Aids that were not exactly fair and not exactly dark in color were racist. Realizing that I had been awarded a diploma in part because I kept my opinions to myself was deeply unsatisfying.
Conservative students need to be aware that they are likely to face discrimination in social work programs on campus, and probably in many other programs as well. They will either have to silence themselves or change their views to be in compliance with secular leftist ideology. What’s even scarier, though, is when students who are raised in traditional evangelical homes go off to college and swallow secular leftist values uncritically. It always shocks me a little when I meet students who were raised in a married home with two evangelical parents and they tell me that they vote for Democrats. I just had a conversation this week with a young woman who claimed to be pro-life and pro-marriage who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012. She is studying journalism, and I would bet that there are no conservative professors in her program. She told me that she voted for Obama because of environmentalism and Obamacare. She also expressed preference for big government over small government.
It’s definitely something to be aware of – the lack of critical thinking and respectful dialog in some of these programs. I’m going to be giving her a list of conservative news sites to read, like The Stream, The Weekly Standard, The Daily Signal, and so on. I wonder if she has ever read a conservative economist or journalist before… I’ll find out.
If you insist on going to programs that are more ideology than marketable skills, then expect to have to keep your mouth shut all the way through in order to graduate. And then after you graduate, whenever you get the chance, vote for smaller government, lower taxes, and more academic freedom laws that protect a diversity of views in the classroom. I also recommend donating to legal groups who defend basic liberties, such as Alliance Defending Freedom.
[…]When the the negative 9.1 percent in federal income taxes paid by those in the bottom 40 percent is subtracted from the 109.1 percent paid by those in the top 60 percent, federal tax revenues net out to an even 100 percent.
[…]The households in the bottom 40 percent of income—which on average paid negative federal income taxes—were on average receiving many thousands of dollars in what the report calls “government transfers.” These transfers included, among other things, benefits from unemployment insurance, Medicare and Social Security, as well as from means-tested programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), and Medicaid.
“Government transfers increase income in all groups, but those increases, both in dollars and as a percentage of market income, are larger for groups with lower market income,” says the report.
According to the CBO, households in the bottom quintile received an average of $22,700 in government transfers in 2010 (including $14,300 in payments from Medicare and Social Security and $8,500 in payments from other government programs); and households in the second quintile received an average of $15,200 in government transfers (including $10,300 in payments from Medicare and Social Security and $4,900 from other government programs).
Now I have been reading articles like this one in National Review by James Pethokoukis, which talk about Obama’s rhetoric about “income inequality”. And I think that when the President goes on a rant about how much he wants to fix “income inequality”, you have to keep in mind what he is actually fixing. He thinks the people who earn the most need to be taxed more and he thinks that the people who earn the least need to be given more benefits. That’s what he is trying to fix.
Jay Richards, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute where he directs the Center on Wealth, Poverty and Morality, and is a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics. Most recently he is the co-author with James Robison of the best-selling Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, and Freedom Before It’s Too Late”.
In addition to writing many academic articles, books, and popular essays on a wide variety of subjects, he recently edited the new award winning anthology, God & Evolution: Protestants, Catholics and Jews Explore Darwin’s Challenge to Faith . His previous book was Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem (HarperOne, May 2009), for which he received a Templeton Enterprise Award in 2010.
[…]In recent years, he has been a Contributing Editor of The American at the American Enterprise Institute, a Visiting Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and a Research Fellow and Director of Acton Media at the Acton Institute. Richards has a B.A. with majors in Political Science and Religion, an M.Div. (Master of Divinity) and a Th.M. (Master of Theology), and a Ph.D. (with honors) in philosophy and theology from Princeton Theological Seminary.
Jim Wallis (born June 4, 1948) is a Christian writer and political activist. He is best known as the founder and editor of Sojourners magazine and as the founder of the Washington, D.C.-based Christian community of the same name. Wallis is well known for his advocacy on issues of peace and social justice. Although Wallis actively eschews political labels, he describes himself as an evangelical and is often associated with the evangelical left and the wider Christian left. He works as a spiritual advisor to President Barack Obama. He is married to the Rev. Joy Carroll, who was one of the first female priests in the Church of England. He is also a leader in the Red-Letter Christian movement.
[…]In 2010, Wallis admitted to accepting money for Sojourners from philanthropist George Soros after initially denying having done so. When conservative writer Marvin Olasky pointed this out, and that Soros also financed groups supporting abortion, atheism, and same-sex marriage, in a WORLD magazine column, Wallis said Olasky “lies for a living”; he subsequently apologized to Olasky for the comments. In 2011, Wallis acknowledged that Sojourners had received another $150,000.00 from Soros’ Open Society Foundation.
[…]In regard to the 2011 United States budget proposal, Wallis described Congressman Paul Ryan and his congressional allies as “bullies” and “hypocrites.”
Wallis just came out this month in favor of gay marriage. He is also a strong supporter of Barack Obama, who is radically pro-abortion. Some pro-lifers have argued that Barack Obama has the same views on abortion as Kermit Gosnell.
The format of the debate
20 minute opening speeches
10 minute rebuttals
10 minutes of discussion
Q&A for the remainder
I use italics below to denote my own observations.
Jim Wallis’ opening speech:
My goal is to spark a national conversation on the “common good”.
A story about my son who plays baseball.
The central goal of Christianity is to promote the “common good”.
Quotes “Catholic social teaching” which values “human flourishing”.
The “common good” is “human flourishing”.
Is the purpose of Christianity is to make sure that everyone has enough material stuff or to preach the gospel?
When Christians go on mission trips, it’s good that they focus on things like human trafficking.
Democrat John Lewis is the “conscience of the U.S. Congress”.
John Lewis gets a 0% rating from the American Conservative Union in 2012.
John Lewis gets a 8% rating from the American Conservative Union in 2011.
John Lewis gets a 2.29% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union.
Nothing is going well in Washington right now except comprehensive immigration reform.
Does he think that Christianity means giving 12-20 million illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, while skilled engineers cannot even get green cards, even though there is a shortage of them? Does he think that the other people in society who earn more than they receive from the government ought to be taxed more in order to provide more services and benefits to those who earn less than they take from the government?
Jay Richards’ opening speech:
Two topics: 1) what is the common good? 2) what should Christians do to promote the common good?
Catholicism defines the “common good” as “Indeed, the common good embraces the sum of those conditions of the social life whereby men, families and associations more adequately and readily may attain their own perfection.”
We have natural ends that we are supposed to be achieving and some places, like South Korea, are better for allowing that to happen.
The common good is broader and prior to any sort of political specification.
It’s not the political good or what the state is supposed to do.
It’s not about the communal good, as in Soviet Russia, where the communal good was above individual and familial good.
The common good is the social conditions that promote the things that we humans have in common as individuals and members of family.
The common good takes account of who we are as individuals and in associations with other individuals, e.g. – families.
Christians don’t have to be doing the same things to promote the common good, e.g. – pastors, entrepreneurs, etc.
The church, as the church, has as its primary goal making disciples of all nations.
But even in that capacity, the church should be interested in more than just conversions and saving souls.
We also have to care about God’s created reality including things like physics, education, etc.
How should Christians promote the common good in politics?
Question: when is coercion warranted?
In Romans 13, Paul says that the state does have power to coerce to achieve certain ends, like justice.
Most Christians think that there are some things where the state can use coercion, for example, to prevent/punish murder.
It is OK for the police to use coercive force to maintain public order and the rule of law.
But we need to ask whether other things are legitimate areas for the state to use coercive force.
We should only give the state power to coerce when there is no other way to achieve a goal.
We need to leverage the science of economics in order to know how to achieve the common good.
Henry Hazlitt: “The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.”
For example, what happens if we raise the federal minimum wage to $50. What happens next for all groups? That’s what we need to ask in order to know which policies achieve the common good.
When it comes to economics a lot of things have been tried in other places and times.
We can know what works and doesn’t work by studying what was tried before and in other places.
Many things are counter-intuitive – things that sound good don’t work, things that sound bad do work.
Principle: “We are our brother’s keeper”. Christians have an obligation to care for their neighbors.
We all agree on the goal. But how do we do things that will achieve that goal?
We have to distinguish aspirations from principles and prudential judgment.
Principle: We should provide for the material needs of the poor.
Prudence: Seeing the world as it is, and acting accordingly.
Example policies: which minimum wage is best? None? $10? $20?
We decide based on seeing how different economic policies achieve the goal of helping the poor.
Jim Wallis’ first rebuttal:
Jesus commanded us to “care for the poor and help to end poverty”.
Actually, Jesus thought that acknowledging him and giving him sacrificial worship was more important than giving money to the poor, see Matthew 26:6-13:
6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper,
7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked.
9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.
11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.
12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.
13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
It’s not clear to me whether Jim Wallis thinks that preaching is more important than redistributing wealth to address material inequality.
I like what Jesus said in a TV series, even though it’s not in the Bible when an actor playing Jesus said to “change the world”.
Jesus never said to “change the world” in the Bible. Should we be concerned that he is quoting a TV actor playing Jesus instead of Jesus.
Here is a terrific story about Bill Bright.
I love Catholic social teaching.
Quote: “All are responsible for all”.
I go to the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland every year. I spoke once at 7 AM on the 4th floor.
It’s a funny place for a Christian to be if they care about the poor – rubbing shoulders with leftist elites. He must have named a dozen high-profile people that he spoke with during the debate, as if he could win the debate by some sort of argument from name-dropping. He mentioned the Davos thing several times!
The greatest beneficiary of government actions to deal with the economic crisis was Wall Street banks.
I’m going to tell you a story about what a Washington lawyer says to Jesus.
I’ve had conversations with business leaders where I tell them to integrate moral truths.
I talk about the Good Samaritan parable.
Quote: “Do you love your undocumented neighbor?”
Quote: “Do you love your Muslim neighbor?”
Jay Richards’ first rebuttal:
Who is responsible for your own children? Who knows the most about them?
Parents should have more discretion over their children because they have more knowledge about their child and what’s best for them.
The Good Samaritan doesn’t show that government should confiscate wealth through taxation and redistribute it.
The Good Samaritan emphasizes voluntarily charity to help people who are not necessarily your immediate neighbor.
Some of the things we do should be for the good of other people in other countries.
But then we are back to leveraging economics to know what policies are good for those other people in other countries.
The principle of subsidiarity: if a problem can be addressed by a lower level of society (family) then we shouldn’t make higher levels (government) address it.
The best place to take care of children is within the family.
Only if the family fails should wider and wider spheres get involved.
Although we want to think of the common good in a global sense, we don’t want to lose sight of the fact
The financial crisis: we need to integrate moral truths, but also economic truths.
We don’t want to assume policies based on intuitions, we want to check our intuitions using economic principles.
Why did we have a financial crisis in mortgages, but not in commodities futures or technology, etc.?
Greed is a contributing factor in all areas of business.
Something more was going on in the mortgage markets than just greed.
There were specific policies that caused the mortgage lending crisis.
The root cause of the problem were “affordable housing policies” that lowered lending restrictions on low income people.
The policy ended up degrading the underwriting standards on loans.
Government intruded into the market and undermined the normal ways of
People were getting massive loans with no income, no jobs, no assets and no down payment.
The federal government created a market for risk loans by guaranteeing
There was a government imposed quota on mortgage lenders such that 50% of their loans had to be given to high-risk borrowers.
That is what led to the financial crisis. Not the free market, but intrusions into the free market.
These policies were well-meaning and implemented by people from both parties. But they had bad effects.
Armed police in Germany launched a terrifying raid on a family’s home to seize their four children after they defied the country’s ban on home schooling.
A team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed the home of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich because they refused to send their children to state schools.
The youngsters were taken to unknown locations after officials allegedly ominously promised the parents that they would not be seeing them again ‘any time soon’.
The only legal grounds for the removal of the children, aged from seven to 14, were the family’s insistence on home schooling their children, with no other allegations of abuse or neglect.
According to court documents obtained and translated by the Home Schooling Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), officials did not even allege that the parents had failed to provide an adequate education.
The raid took place on Thursday morning at 8am at the Wunderlichs’ home near Darmstadt, 25 miles south of Frankfurt, in south-west Germany.
Citing the parents’ failure to cooperate ‘with the authorities to send the children to school’, the judge even authorised the use of force ‘against the children’ if necessary, according to court documents cited by the HSLDA.
[…]Mr Wunderlich said that he and his wife had been left devastated by the authorities’ decision to take their children. He said that his 14-year-old daughter Machsejah had to be forcibly taken out of the home.
‘When I went outside, our neighbour was crying as she watched. I turned around to see my daughter being escorted as if she were a criminal by two big policemen,’ he said.
‘They weren’t being nice at all. When my wife tried to give my daughter a kiss and a hug goodbye, one of the special agents roughly elbowed her out of the way and said — “It’s too late for that”.
‘What kind of government acts like this?’
Funny that you would ask that, Mr. Wunderlich, because here’s a story about a German homeschooling family that is being ejected from the United States.
The White House has posted a response to the petition to stop the deportation of the Romeikes, a homeschooling family from Germany. The White House does not respond to issues before the courts, the response said, but they understand why parents would value the freedom to homeschool.
[…]Though the White House says it understands why parents would value the freedom to homeschool, the administration, through the Justice Department, has been trying to deport the Romeikes back to Germany, where they could lose custody of their children if they were to continue to homeschool. In the various court cases, the Justice Department has argued that the right of parents to decide their children’s education is not a fundamental right, and it agreed with a German court’s opinion that banning homeschooling teaches tolerance of diverse views.
The Romeikes lost their last appeal in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Home School Legal Defense Association, which represents the Romeikes, has now appealed the case to the Supreme Court.
In a blog post on the HSLDA website, HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris criticized the administration for taking so long say that it could not respond, and for allowing certain current unauthorized immigrants, the so-called “dreamers,” to stay in the country while going out of its way to try to deport one family.
“No one can understand why the White House is showing so much leniency to millions of immigrants who have come here illegally in hopes of securing better jobs, but is so determined to deport this one family who has come to America in search of freedom for themselves and their children,” Farris declared. “This petition was the perfect opportunity for the White House to explain why this administration appealed the original grant of asylum. This was a perfect opportunity for the White House to explain the blatantly unequal treatment being received by the Romeike family. But the White House stalled for four months and said absolutely nothing.”
Isn’t that interesting? The same administration that is pushing for amnesty for 20 million illegal immigrants wants to deport one family for homeschooling their children. What is it that causes people on the left to want to drive a wedge between parents and their own children? Why are they so anxious to raise taxes so that both parents are forced to work, and the children will be raised in government-run public schools? What is their goal in doing that? What pleasure do they get out of separating mothers from their 1-year olds? What pleasure do they get in taking a man’s child away and teaching the child things that are opposed to the father’s values – while taking his salary to pay for it?
I know that there are a lot of people who are very passionate about public education, and making everyone equal, and pushing left-wing ideologies onto children against the will of their parents. Every Democrat votes for it when they vote to tax families more to pay for higher pay and benefits for public school teachers. Still, you would think that a story like this might cause them to think twice about what their support for state-run education really means. Make no mistake, Democrats are opposed to homeschooling, and even private schooling. They don’t want parents to have a say – they just want them to pay for whatever the government decides to do with their children.