In 2011, a story came out about New Jersey nurses being forced to perform abortions (or be fired). I blogged about it, but we didn’t really know the details. Well, now the details have emerged and the case has finally been decided. Here’s a press release from the heroic Alliance Defending Freedom, which protected the nurses involved from violating their consciences.
Promoted from that team to a supervisory position over all the nurses, the new assistant manager announced that – since she and others had to help with abortions – she saw no reason why every nurse shouldn’t help. Hospital officials agreed, and passed a new, mandatory policy to make it so. The assistant manager quickly set up a training program that would give each nurse on the unit hands-on experience in how to assist with and clean up after abortions.
“As long as you work here,” she told the 12 nurses who openly protested, “you’re going to have to do it. If you don’t, you’re going to be fired or transferred out.”
“We were all shocked,” Fe says. “All these years I’ve been a nurse, I was never told to help kill children.”
But the managers remained adamant. Hospital administrators supported them.
[…]”Our jobs were hanging by a string,” Beryl says. “We were like, ‘All right. If they’re going to fire all 12 of us, fine. But this is against what we believe God wants us to do.’ We didn’t come into this profession to do [abortions]. We told them we weren’t comfortable with it and didn’t feel they should force us. And if that meant our jobs, well… God was going to provide.”
When even their own union declined to help them, Fe wrote a letter to hospital officials saying that she and her coworkers would not participate in abortions. She passed it around for the other nurses; 15 signed it. She gave the letter to her manager, who took it to the director of nursing.. Response was swift. A meeting was called for the next day, with each of the signing nurses, the labor board, a union official, the managers, and “an expert on ethics” scheduled to be on hand.
I think so often in this world today, Christians are on the defensive when it comes to acting on their convictions. My expectation is that we will never win when we do the right thing. The other side is so strong, and we have so few conservative Christians who are intentional about studying well, earning well, and reaching positions of influence. But sometimes we do win, because there are still some Christians left who have paid the price to get the education and training that allows them to do something when the freedoms of Christians are threatened.
This time, it was the Alliance Defending Freedom lawyers who saved the day:
The day of that announcement, Pastor Terry Smith, of Life Christian Church in West Orange, New Jersey, returned from a trip. A staff member told him that one of his parishioners – Fe – had called, shared what was happening at the hospital, and asked for advice. The pastor immediately phoned Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council.
“I’ll be all over this,” said Deo, who hung up and called Alliance Defending Freedom. Shortly afterward, staff attorney Matt Bowman was on the phone with a local allied attorney, Demetrios Stratis, enlisting him to help defend the nurses. The two immediately called Fe.
[…]Amid all the tension, threats, and growing media coverage, the judge in the case stunned everyone by suddenly announcing, in a preliminary hearing, that a settlement had been reached.
“We had gotten everything [the 12 nurses] requested,” Stratis says. “We’d gotten the hospital to agree not to force them to perform these abortions. There would be no retaliatory measures against them, and they could feel free and sleep at night, knowing that the next day they would not have to be trained on the abortion process or help a woman kill an innocent child.”
“I was crying – really crying,” says Lorna, who heard the news from one of the other nurses. “And very thankful. The next day, I went to work, and all of us were hugging and very happy.”
“Before, I used to think that some prayers won’t be answered,” Fe says. “Sometimes, I’d feel very hopeless. But with this case, I saw how the Lord moves… providing the resources, the people who would help us out. It just strengthened my faith. I really thank God for Alliance Defending Freedom.”
Where does this desire to force people to commit murder come from? Well, it comes from the political left. In fact, the Obama administration actively opposes conscience protections for medical workers, and actively opposes conscience protections for military chaplains. This is to say nothing about the HHS mandate, which forces entire organizations and businesses to subsidize abortion-causing drugs.
I think that Christians need to be thoughtful, calculating and realistic about how we are going to deal with threats like this. Although some of us may prefer to study things that are easier, and do jobs that are comfortable, there is a real need for more of us to study hard things and do hard jobs. We need people with the right degrees in the right fields, and we need people who are good at earning and saving money. The truth is that this is the way the world works, and wisdom requires that we do what we have to do (not what we like to do) in order to be ready for the the challenges we are likely to face. The other side is certainly doing their job of getting the degrees and the money that they will use against us.
Eastern Michigan University has agreed to settle an Alliance Defending Freedom lawsuit filed on behalf of Julea Ward, a graduate student whom the university expelled from a counseling program for abiding by her religious beliefs. As a result, a federal district court issued an agreed-uponorder of dismissal Monday.
Even though counseling referrals are a common and accepted professional practice, the university expelled Ward when she sought to avoid violating her religious beliefs by referring a potential client to another counselor. In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled in her favor.
“Public universities shouldn’t force students to violate their religious beliefs to get a degree. The 6th Circuit rightly understood this and ruled appropriately, so the university has done the right thing in settling this case,” said Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco, who argued before the court in October of last year. “When Julea sought to refer a potential client to another qualified counselor–a common, professional practice that is endorsed by her profession’s code of ethics–EMU denied the referral. Then it attacked and questioned her religious beliefs, ultimately expelling her from the program. We are pleased that Julea and her constitutionally protected rights have been vindicated.”
EMU initiated its disciplinary process against Ward shortly after she enrolled in a counseling practicum course in January 2009, when she was assigned a potential client seeking assistance regarding a sexual relationship that was contrary to Ward’s religious convictions. Ward recognized the potential conscience issue with the client and asked a supervisor how to handle the matter. The supervisor advised Ward to reassign the potential client to a different counselor. EMU then informed Ward that she could only stay in the counseling program if she agreed to undergo a “remediation” program. Its purpose was to help her “see the error of her ways” and change her “belief system” as it relates to counseling about homosexual relationships.
In a strongly worded opinion in Ward v. Wilbanks, the 6th Circuit reversed the district court decision in favor of the university and sent the case back for trial, saying, “a reasonable jury could conclude that Ward’s professors ejected her from the counseling program because of hostility toward her speech and faith….” Moreover, the decision notes, “A university cannot compel a student to alter or violate her belief systems based on a phantom policy as the price for obtaining a degree.”
When I read this story, it made me think of all the other students who went along quietly with whatever left-wing political correctness the university wanted to indoctrinate them with, just so they could pass and get their degrees. I don’t think it’s an accident that this happened in a non-STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field, either. That’s where the left is the strongest – in the areas of study that are the least rooted in reality.
Here’s an interview with the founder of Ratio Christi, Rick Schenker.
Rick Schenker is president of Ratio Christi, a campus-based, Christian apologetics organization, which he joined in February, 2011. Rick has a visionary leadership style, and has experience in business, government, public and media relations, fundraising, and non-profit management. He has a bachelor’s degree in Bible from Central Bible College, and has done graduate work in public policy at Regent University, along with additional postgraduate work in leadership and public administration. Rick has extensive experience in grass-roots political organization and campaigns in the state of Pennsylvania. As the chief elected official of the County government in Erie, Pennsylvania, he oversaw 1,100 employees and a $300 million budget.
TBS: Thank you for allowing us to interview you for TheBestSchools.org. Please give our readers an overview of Ratio Christi? What is it? How did it get started? What are its goals?
RS: Ratio Christi is a global movement that equips university students and faculty to give historical, philosophical, and scientific reasons for following Jesus Christ. Ratio Christi (Latin for “The Reason of Christ”) is placing Christian apologetics clubs at universities both nationally and internationally. Bringing together faith and reason in order to establish the intellectual voice of Christ in the University, Ratio Christi is engaging in the battle for the mind of Christians and skeptics alike. We unashamedly defend the veracity of God, the Bible, and Christ’s resurrection. Ratio Christ started three and a half years ago as a ministry of Southern Evangelical Seminary and became an independent non-profit organization in early 2011. Since that time, Ratio Christi has developed strong partnerships with many other seminaries and organizations, focusing on Christian apologetics and worldview issues. By working together, we now have approximately 60 clubs in various stages of development in universities across the country and around the world.
TBS: Please give us a bit of background about yourself. What were some of the things you were doing before assuming the helm of Ratio Christi? How did the opportunity to head up Ratio Christi present itself?
RS: I am a grass-roots political organizer. I was an elected official, and decided to leave politics to pursue work within Christian ministry. Unfortunately, even though I had run a few nonprofits, and a government with a $300 million budget, I couldn’t find a job. Sometime in 2010, I was considering getting a master’s degree in apologetics, and ran into the Ratio Christi web site. It was a student-run ministry at Southern Evangelical Seminary. In politics, I had become used to spotting trends that could turn into mass movements. As soon as I saw Ratio Christi, I knew it was a mass movement waiting to happen. I called them up and asked them to let me run it. Based on our 500% growth in the last six months, it is apparent that this is something that was not only needed, but ready and waiting to happen in God’s timing.
TBS: One of the striking claims you make on your web site is that “you are not building an organization, you are building a movement”? Could you please expand on what you see as the difference between the two? What would a Ratio Christi movement look like?
RS: First, Ratio Christi is not the movement. We are simply a grass-roots organization for a greater movement. A movement is usually something that grows beyond the efforts or abilities of the leaders involved in starting it. Ratio Christi is involved in a movement in which apologetics is sweeping through the culture. Because of the rapid growth of neo-atheism in the university, Christian students are under attack. When confronted with intellectual challenges to Christianity, many Christian college students will abandon their faith. You can’t blame them. If the faith of their parents is irrational, then it should be abandoned. In many cases, Christian students are ridiculed and openly humiliated by fellow students and sometimes faculty, for believing in God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ. Then along comes some good apologetics training, and suddenly the students realize that their faith can stand up to intellectual scrutiny. They see that the scientific, historical, and philosophical evidence is on the side of Christianity. They get pumped up about that. The same is true for adults and high school students. Most people didn’t know there was so much evidence that supports the Christian worldview. Ratio Christi wants to help propogate the message that Christianity is not only good, it is true. We want to get the word out, organize cooperation with like-minded ministries, put people and resources in universities and communities, and generally help facilitate what we see as a broader work of God.
TBS: You also say on your web site that you are not in competition with other “full-service” campus ministries, because Ratio Christi is more narrowly focused on “the battle of ideas that permeates the university.” That seems like an admirable goal. But by placing so much emphasis on reasoned discourse, are you concerned at all that Ratio Christi may be raising the bar too high for a truly broad-based campus ministry? After all, you wouldn’t want it seem like undergraduates needed to be philosophy majors in order to participate effectively in their local Ratio Christi chapter, would you?
RS: We do exactly what we say. We go onto a campus to support other Christian ministries. A highly trained apologist is placed on a campus to meet weekly with a small group of students that want to go deeper into the study of the intellectual framework of the Christian faith. RC offers to do training for other student ministries and extends the offer to Christian faculty members. The bar is not too high; this is stuff high school students could and should be learning. Yes, it takes hard work, but loving God with all our mind is part of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. There is a full range of students involved, from those who have already studied these things deeply to those with no previous exposure. Atheists, agnostics, and those of other belief systems are encouraged to attend. This is a safe place where you can bring your questions. And we do encourage all students to get involved with other campus ministries that do more Bible studies, have worship services, and other fellowship opportunities. RC is simply there to help them deal with the tough questions. Does God exist? Doesn’t science disprove God? Did Jesus really rise from the dead? If God is good and all powerful, why is there evil and suffering? These are the hard questions, and that is what an apologist is trained to handle. Students love it. They love learning the critical-thinking skills necessary to analyze competing worldviews through logical discourse.
TBS: What has been your experience, so far, with the reception of your local Ratio Christi chapters on mainstream secular campuses? Has it been hard to get them recognized? Have there been any noteworthy cases of backlash against students on secular campuses for getting involved with their local Ratio Christi chapter?
RS: Actually it has been surprisingly easy. Since most universities are theoretically all about academic freedom, we approach it from this angle. They should welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues as long as it is done in a civil format. It helps that current case law supports the right of free association on campus. We have been blessed to have the expertise of the Alliance Defense Fund helping guide us in understanding the legal obligations that the universities are under. Since secular thought dominates most educational institutions, the backlash against Christianity is already there. We just try to even the playing field by giving a sound intellectual defense of the faith. Our arguments are appealing to those that are intellectually honest, so there is no need to back down in the face of opposition.
TBS: One of the most striking things you say on your web site is that you want to make your local Ratio Christi campus chapters welcoming to agnostics and atheists. We certainly see the point of trying to provide a structure for believers and nonbelievers to meet with each other and get to know each other as people, in a nonthreatening environment. But we wonder, given the tensions that exist on college campuses and in American culture generally today, how much success you’ve had so far in this endeavor. Have the chapters had much luck in really engaging with agnostic and atheist students in a constructive way? If not, do you have any thoughts about how you might achieve a better result with this distinctive and important dimension of your work?
RS: Actually, it is fairly normal for our chapters to engage with agnostic and atheist individuals, both in the meetings and around the campus. There has also been a lot of interaction with skeptic/atheist groups, such as co-sponsoring events or setting up discussion forums. Clubs representing other world religions have also been interested in engaging in discussion with our clubs. These interactions are very civil discussions, and our apologists teach Christian students to follow the advice of I Peter 3:15–16, to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” It is easier to do this with gentleness and respect when you are confident in your answers. We have found the reception to a reasoned approach to faith to be quite positive. On the other hand, there are many students among the neo-atheists that have picked up on the tactics of Dawkins and others by practicing a lot of ad hominem arguments against Christians. This is usually some kind of generalized attack like “All Christians are stupid because of X,” but the majority of the discourse on campus is usually quite civil.
Reading this interview was a real encouragement to me. I was very excited by what they are doing on these campuses.
I was in IVCF as an undergraduate and Campus Crusade as a graduate student, and we never did anything with apologetics. Not one thing in six years! They actually blocked every suggestion that the other students and I had to bring in speakers, show debate and lecture DVDs, and organize debates. I didn’t learn one useful thing in 6 years. Everything was always about people sharing their feelings, prayer walks and testimonies. And lots of singing. I know that other IVCF and Crusade groups are different, because I know that some of them do support apologetics, but the ones I attended were really dead set against apologetics.
If any of you are thinking about getting me a Christmas gift because you like the blog, just make a donation to Ratio Christi. Any amount would be great. They take PayPal! (At least – they took my donation through PayPal)
In case you are wondering what they do, here is a sample debate, featuring William Lane Craig and Michael Tooley:
That debate took place at the University of North Carolina.
You can watch another full debate they did (William Lane Craig vs Lawrence Krauss) with this Youtube playlist. That one occurred at North Carolina State University.
Here’s my snarky summary of that debate, in case you don’t want to watch it. The audio is not the best.