In a letter written to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, two Democratic congressmen, Andy Levin and Jamie Raskin, are outraged that Liberty University, a Christian university, would set Christian standards for its student body. Oh, the thought of it!
As summarized in an article on the Stream, "The lawmakers accused her of turning a blind eye to university campuses that violate Executive Order 13864, a directive that threatens to withhold federal funding on college and university campuses that censor free speech."
And what, pray tell, are some of Liberty's violations?
Levin and Raskin write, "Liberty reportedly bans LGBTQ relationships and places content restrictions on media students can view."
More specifically, quoting Liberty policy directly, "Sexual relations outside of a biblically ordained marriage between a natural-born man and a natural-born woman are not permissible at Liberty University."
Oh, the horror! Oh, the shame! Oh, the outrage!
A Christian university requires its students to uphold Christian morality. A private university that looks to the Bible for moral and spiritual guidance requires its students to live by biblical standards.
They probably forbid drunkenness and illicit drug use as well.
How unthinkable! How monstrous! How restrictive!
That would be like Yeshiva University forbidding its students from eating shrimp and lobster on campus.
Or like the Islamic American University requiring its students to abstain from ham sandwiches and bacon. (And probably to abstain from "LGBTQ relationships" as well.)
They even have the gall to say, "Our vision is of a Muslim community imbued with the spirit of our Righteous Predecessors in knowledge and practice, with both the character and the strength to lead in a world that is crying for guidance."
How could they!
That would be like Brigham Young University requiring its students to live by an Honor Code, with standards like: "Use clean language. Respect others. Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee and substance abuse. Participate regularly in church services."
How dare they!
In all seriousness, one would expect an Orthodox Jewish university to hold to Orthodox Jewish standards, just as one would expect a Muslim university to hold to Islamic standards and a Mormon university to hold to Mormon standards.
That's why students go there, and that's why the parents of younger students send them there.
Our oldest granddaughter is a freshman at Liberty, and she is loving every minute of her time there—and I mean loving it. The atmosphere is wonderful. The professionalism and excellence are everywhere to be seen. The young people she is meeting are terrific. And the environment is quite wholesome and Christian.
That's why she's there, and that's why Christian universities exist. It's to provide a holistic Christian environment for higher education.
Not a place for drug-fueled partying and one-night stands.
Not a place for disseminating porn.
Not a place for celebrating LGBTQ activism.
There are hundreds of other schools to choose from that will provide all those ingredients (and more).
And, in reality, many of those schools (speaking of typically far-left, university campuses) have made Christians feel quite unwelcome. Even Christian professors are afraid to speak up about their beliefs for fear of reprisal. (See CampusReform.org for ongoing documentation.)
Yet Liberty has welcomed liberals like Bernie Sanders to its campus for an open exchange of ideas.
Perhaps the lack of freedom is not on the side of Liberty, which is simply living by its clearly stated standards and goals, but on the side of the allegedly open and free campuses? Perhaps the issue is not with Liberty, which says, "We are a Christian university," but with other schools, which falsely claim to be a school for all students from all backgrounds?
Interestingly, Levin and Raskin note that, "problems of free speech on college campuses are complex and require creative solutions, and bigoted, far-right speakers have repeatedly tested the free speech policies of Berkeley and other universities."
In other words, "bigoted" and "far-right speakers" like Ben Shapiro? (As for Levin and Raskin's view of the conservative gay activist Milo Yiannapoulos, who was banned from Berkeley, he is a "multi-bigoted speaker" with "deplorable ideas.")
Is it any wonder that last December, Berkeley "settled a free speech lawsuit accusing the school of discriminating against speakers with conservative views"? Its anti-conservative discrimination could not be ignored.
It appears, then, that the real bigotry is on the side of Levin and Raskin, not Liberty University, which is simply practicing what it preaches and upholding its Christian standards and goals.
As Jerry Falwell, Jr., said in a written response, "as a private university, Liberty University simply cannot violate the First Amendment of its students because the First Amendment is a limitation on the government's power to regulate private speech and association."
He added, "So the behavioral limitations Liberty University places on students through its conduct code, such as prohibiting viewing pornography and sex outside of biblical marriage, are fully consistent with the proper role of a Christian institution of higher education in the U.S. and are what both its students and their parents expect."
As a grandparent, and speaking for a student and her parents, I'm so glad that Liberty, and other schools of its kind, exist.
What an awful shame that, for men like Levin and Raskin, Liberty is a threat rather than an asset. Their worldview is completely twisted and upside down.
The truth be told, if America is to right her very wrong course, we need more schools like Liberty, not fewer.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Evangelicals at the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test? Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter, or YouTube.
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