An 8 part special report exclusive to BarbWire.com
Part 2 of 8
Liberal Christians are Attracted to Political Liberalism
But theological liberalism can be a tricky thing. Theological liberals often migrate toward embracing both cultural and political liberalism primarily because they all share the same view regarding the nature of man. Conservatives believe that mankind is easily corrupted due to the presence of evil in the world and therefore needs checks on his power. This is why conservatives have always been associated with constitutional concepts such as limited government and separation of powers and are vigorous supporters of law enforcement.
But both liberal Christians and political liberals believe that mankind can be perfected and, by extension, society can be perfected, even if that means jettisoning organically grown traditions and mores en route to a supposed utopian society. This is why the left is always on a crusade.
Whether it’s demanding corporations pay higher taxes, advocating bigger government, undermining the traditional family unit, promoting gay rights, co-sharing female bathrooms, advancing global warming, attacking the concept of merit, dividing society into racial and gender “victim” groups, or assaulting anything remotely having to do with alleged “white privilege,” there’s no end to the left’s rampages though traditional institutions because with each victory they believe they are one step closer to perfecting heaven on earth.
This is also why when one digs deep into the history of socialist and communist dictators, they are always, at least early on, surrounded by naive liberal Christians who were attracted to them due to their promises of “transforming” society by remaking man. It is also why many in the hard left leadership in America today profess to be Christians, albeit a variety, I would argue, that’s alien to traditional biblical Christianity. We must remember that for liberals, government is God and supplants the God of Abraham as the ultimate authority for how we conduct our country and ourselves.
The irony is that while American values are often attacked politically by the liberal Christian community, it happens to be the most civil, prosperous, freeist and charitable country in the world, while the regimes typically favored by the theologically left, such as Cuba and Venezuela, are among the biggest violators of human rights, the rule of law and the freedoms we take for granted. But let’s not let facts get in the way. As one Pep professor confided to me, “the school is full of faculty members who claim to be Christians but they have no problem promoting leftist ‘social justice’ causes that ultimately work against our Christian-inspired constitution and our Christian-based culture.”
By the 1980’s, Conservative Theological and Political Views became Scarce at Pepperdine
The evolvement of liberal Christians into political liberalism within the Pepperdine world led to very subtle but potent changes that are evident today. The seeds were sown. Indeed, by the late 1980’s, Pepperdine was dominated by liberal professors even though its own Board of Regents and big donors never got the memo about this take-over by political and theological liberals. Even today, it is common to meet board members who think Pepperdine is one of the most conservative colleges in America.
Pepperdine though, continued to dilute down its Christian atmosphere in the 1980’s with the hiring of professors who weren’t even Christians or Christians so liberal they had little in common with traditional Christians. It should be pointed out that there are also theologically liberal Christians who hold conservative viewpoints politically and culturally, but Pepperdine has few of those. But there is little doubt that by the early 1990’s, there was a clique of liberal professors hired who had little in common with Pepperdine’s original vision, either theologically or politically. One example of this mission drift was a 1993 legal document sent to all Religion Department professors that prohibited them from “attempting to convert students to, or maintain their adherence to, the tenets of beliefs of the Churches of Christ or ANY other recognized or identified religious group…”
So if a student doubted his faith and asked his religion professor some questions, the professor was prohibited from interacting with that student. What’s the use of having a Christian university if the faculty is not allowed to help a student discover or rediscover his or her faith? Indeed, even professors at state colleges have more freedom to share their faith than do Pepperdine’s religion professors. Perhaps this directive is ignored by some professors, as I have been told, but the fact the school even issued such a directive is troubling.
However, it should be pointed out there was a revival of sorts in the 1990’s under the Presidency of David Davenport. He did make an effort to reverse the liberal trend and made great strides to return Pepperdine back to its roots by hiring more professors of a conservative persuasion, both theologically and politically. Efforts were also made to bring nationally renown conservative speakers to campus. Moreover, Davenport took steps to emphasized Pepperdine’s Christian mission, both in terms of faculty hired and the campus culture in general. But after Davenport’s presidency ended in 2000, the mission drift returned and today’s Seaver College’s academic atmosphere is more liberal than at any other time in its history.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.