Interview: Let’s Save the University from Secular Privilege

The academy has lost its pluralism. Here’s how the church can help find it.

This last school year saw a number of incendiary cases related to freedom of speech and freedom of association in the American university. Faculty have experienced what George Yancey calls Christianophobia and student groups, too, have had their fair share of fights on both private and public campuses. At Colorado State University, for example, a Christian organization called Students for Life (SFL) applied for a school grant to bring a pro-life speaker to campus and after their application was denied, filed a federal lawsuit (which they recently settled). SFL joins the growing numbers of Catholic and Protestant student groups struggling to maintain or regain a voice on campuses around the country.

Mary Poplin, who teaches at the Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California, has spent most of her professional career studying education, worldviews, and most recently, the subject of “secular exclusivity,” which in her opinion has played a significant part in the SFL case and others like it. The author of Is Reality Secular?: Testing the Assumptions of Four Global Worldviews, Poplin, along with Barry Kanpol, recently edited a collection of essays titled Christianity and the Secular Border Patrol: The Loss of Judeo-Christian Knowledge.

She sat down with CT in Austin, Texas, to talk about the rising secularity in higher education—and what the church can do about it.

How would you define “secular privilege,” a term introduced by David Hodge in one of the essays in your book?

Here’s a great example. When [US Senator] Dianne Feinstein interviews a candidate, Amy Barrett, for a judgeship, she presumes that she herself is neutral and that this candidate is not neutral just because she’s …

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