In a May 7 New York Times Op-Ed column titled “A Confession of Liberal Intolerance,” Nicholas Kristof wrote,

We progressives believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims at the table — er, so long as they aren’t conservatives.

Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.

O.K., that’s a little harsh. But consider George Yancey, a sociologist who is black and evangelical.

“Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he told me. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.”

I’ve been thinking about this because on Facebook recently I wondered aloud whether universities stigmatize conservatives and undermine intellectual diversity. The scornful reaction from my fellow liberals proved the point.

“Much of the ‘conservative’ worldview consists of ideas that are known empirically to be false,” said Carmi.

“The truth has a liberal slant,” wrote Michelle.

[And here is the best one:]

“Why stop there?” asked Steven. “How about we make faculties more diverse by hiring idiots?”

Of course, none of these reactions are news to those who, whether teachers or students, are on the receiving end of the academy’s ever more doctrinaire liberalism. Christians, however, may do well to recognize a validity hidden in Michelle’s assertion that truth has a liberal slant, for their Lord had a deserved reputation for offending a conserving establishment that he accused of misrepresenting the original intention of the divine Law. His disruptiveness in a conservative context was in service of superior principles from which an inferior conservatism was in fact a rebellion. Here is the connection between Christianity and the liberal idea to which Michelle alludes but understands very imperfectly: the follower of Christ is likely to be at war with all kinds of conservatisms, including that of liberals whose progressivist dogmas are held as inflexibly as those of any fundamentalist. She does not understand that truth sublates the subjunctive concepts of liberal and conservative. One cannot be liberal or conservative relative to the truth. Socrates would understand.

Christians interested in higher learning tend to accept ignorance of their faith and bigotry against it in the universities as part of the lay of the land, and have found ways of dealing with it. They will choose, for example, fields and departments where their religious opinions are generally regarded by those working in the field as irrelevant, or reasonably irrelevant, and where there is little or no ideological component to evaluation of their academic work.  They will find advisors whose attitudes are like those of Mr. Kristof, who, though liberals themselves, have a reputation for treating Christians fairly and protecting them from prejudices like Steven’s—and have the will and power to do it.  There are still liberals who make genuine efforts to live up to that name (as most of my own college professors did forty years ago), and who have a studied live-and-let-live attitude toward those with whom they tend to disagree. With these the competent Christian generally has no difficulties.

While academic Christians will typically avoid schools and fields with a reputation for hostility against Christianity, many abandon Christianity as too difficult or risky to maintain in a university environment–taking the doctorate is paramount–so learn to think, act, and work like the people they are trying to please—what one might call the “Esau Method,” calculated at first to be revocable, but then found too profitable and comfortable to abandon. Many former Evangelicals have grown fond of lentils during graduate school.

One of the most significant bars to Christian participation in university life will be the test, even if informally administered, of acceptance of homosexuality. Because of the confusion of many religious conservatives on egalitarianism, in Evangelicalism in particular, capitulation to feminist demands on writing and speech never became the bar to religious conservatives’ participation in university life that it might have been if there were more acute awareness of its meaning.

The sexual confusion ante, however, is upping. Where there are demands that homosexuality be accepted as morally benign, if not a positive virtue, where it becomes “part of a conservative worldview that consists of ideas that are known empirically to be false,” not to mention immoral, and aggressive homosexualists are successful in pressing their case at all possible levels, it will become an absolute impediment to Christian involvement in the university, for there can be no reasonable doubt that Christianity has clearly, consistently, and from its beginnings, regarded homosexuality as sin.