Warning: Political/ social issue post about the “This is not a daycare. It’s a university!” gentleman. (President of the Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Dr. Everett Piper.) If you don’t like reading political or social commentary, skip now. (Or, if you dislike reading my particular viewpoint, definitely skip now.)
My take isn’t what you expect it to be. I did a lot of reading and followed the trail. Skip to the last line of this post if you want a concise message.
Mr. Piper makes a lot of money as president of a private, tax-exempt religious university. And that’s okay. But it does matter that he is an employee of a religious university and that he himself is rich enough to travel around and complain. He spends a lot of time on the air, both TV and radio, mainly espousing some very strident “political correctness” mantras.
Everett’s latest quip is going around social media because of a blog post he wrote, stating, “This is not a daycare. It’s a university.” (Here’s the link to his original blog post, which takes a different tenor when you read it after reading my commentary: http://goo.gl/CjSt1s.) For my commentary, I am ignoring the content of his blog post, as my thesis is one of bias.
As a populist bumper sticker, his quip and blog post is going to be a resounding success. People love the “anti-coddling” message from pundits. It has always played well. It plays exceedingly well to those who divide the world into the two camps of “us” vs. “them,” with the other camp being those who want a secular society or the freedom to be something other than Christian. (Or don’t define their Christianity in the same specific way that Mr. Piper might.) If you are the one being silenced or ridiculed, of course, you have an entirely different viewpoint. Christians hold the current majority here in the United States, although the range of beliefs and versions of it in all honesty seem to have splintered it into 2 main groups: exclusion or inclusion.
Ignoring the message of his blog post, the key point to note is that he is the president of a university – a position which gives him access to public and private forums anywhere conservative views are welcome. He doesn’t appear in non-partisan or secular panels or shows willingly. In other words, he himself isn’t keen on open discussion or free thinking.
Interestingly, he often complains about the “war on Christians,” as well as the intolerance of those who find fault with religious intolerance itself. (If that sounds complicated, it simply means that he should be able to discriminate against those who don’t follow his specific version of religion and that those who disagree shouldn’t be able to question him about doing so.) He makes insinuating references to the White House and other religions. He often attends and participates in anti-gay conferences.
I get it. I really do. But…
Everyone sharing his latest quip should do so knowing that he is not revealing his bias openly to those who aren’t familiar with his message.
There is a reason he was so angry with the allegorical student in his blog post.The reason he used the “victimized” student as an example is that he sees himself as a victim. He feels victimized that he must deal with non-Christians on an even field and that society pushes him to be inclusive. He wants a society and school where he can tell the gays, non-Christians, anyone looked down upon by his version of religion, that they must be silent and accommodate his religion. Or else. He could let his life teach by example but he prefers to ensure that others don’t have the opportunity to live differently.
Many people are going to see his bumper sticker version of “no coddling.” They will share the quote without reading or investigating to see his bias.And while Christians who agree with Mr. Piper on all the issues will still enthusiastically agree, there is a real danger in such thinking. When you are the majority, it is easy to silence opposing views. If the tables turn, however, you will want a society which ensures that religion remains the domain of personal choice.
He’s right: it isn’t a daycare. But if he isn’t espousing truth and learning without bias, it isn’t a university either. Universities don’t demand unified thinking, even if they are built in the spirit of Jesus, who himself was as rebellious as any thinker could possibly be.