Over the years, as Ben Shapiro has become more prominent, his campus lectures have brought about protests, cancellations, and even lawsuits— all making one point very clear: Free Speech is overwhelmingly losing support among college administrations.
Schools like UC Berkeley, the Ohio State University, and the University of Utah are state funded schools where leftist bias has come to be expected. However, in recent days, harsh pushback against his upcoming lecture at the Loyola-Marymount University and cancellation of his lecture at Grand Canyon University bring an even bigger issue in higher education: the issue of Christian schools banning speakers for fear of negative press.
Now, were Shapiro a speaker whose claims are based on conspiracy theories or facts skewed for dramatic effect to prove his points, a Christian university should absolutely stay away. However, in an era where truth has become subjective to an extreme degree, Christians should be the ones fighting to promote truth at any opportunity possible.
GCU stated that Shapiro is too divisive in presence to speak, but wasn’t Jesus a pretty divisive figure as well? I would argue that a man who had people chanting for his crucifixion was not exactly the person you would go to for a life void of conflict.
Grace Beecroft from Westmont College, a Christian school in California, firmly supports having speakers like Shapiro on campuses like hers. Beecroft argues, “Christianity should welcome Shapiro with open arms, open ears, and challenging questions as he is an ally in the mission of turning society back toward Judeo-Christian values.”
Are these schools really so afraid of what Shapiro is saying or are they afraid that students will realize the values their schools claim to stand for are not being taught in classes?
GCU’s mission statement is to “prepare learners to become global citizens, critical thinkers, effective communicators and responsible leaders by providing an academically challenging, values-based curriculum from the context of [their] Christian heritage.” How can they possibly claim this mission when they censor a speaker like Shapiro?
Dallas Baptist University student Taylor Vandersmitte states, “The less you are exposed to different opinions, the more likely you are to form beliefs and opinions that drive you and others from the actual truth.” Vandersmitte also argues that Christians can subconsciously become elitist in their attitude when their ideas are not challenged and she professes a belief that college is supposed to be the place where students learn how to be challenged and strengthen their opinions.
Christian universities, and Christians in general have begun to paint a picture of Jesus as someone who was a pacifist rather than a man who came to serve others, which sometimes required speaking uncomfortable truths. Lynn Sementilli, a graduate student at the University of Buffalo says, “As soon as a Christian university caves to the masses because they are afraid of being seen as ‘offensive,’ they lose their ability to declare to the world that they are unafraid and unashamed of their mission.”
College students around the country have discussed the necessity for Christians to engage in diversity of opinion on campus. Christians face the battle almost every day of fighting, with truth, the lies prevalent in society. Hannah Creech from the University of Alabama— Birmingham argues, “As Christians living to glorify God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we shouldn’t run from different ideas. To shelter ourselves from diversity of thought robs us of the pursuit of truth and the opportunity to see how the philosophies of the world pale in comparison to the Creator.”
If Christian universities fail to support the furthering of truth in society, they fail to share in the open dialogue Jesus engaged in during His time on Earth. Despite telling the truth, Jesus was never undeservingly rude or petty toward people with whom he disagreed.
In response, University of Florida student Taylor Roth said, “We are all created by God, and it is important to show respect toward those we may not see eye to eye with.” Sementilli also poses the question, “How will the next generation of American Christians know how to defend truth if they are not provided with opportunities to hear the Judeo-Christian stance on hot-button issues of the world around us?”
These two ladies are absolutely correct; we need to hear statements from all viewpoints in order to have our views heard by others but also to strengthen our views.
University of Wisconsin— Madison student Abby Streu said, “I wholly believe in the power of Christ’s church and the power it has to bridge divides and foster a place where all people of all backgrounds can come together.” Streu also discusses that the cancellation of Shapiro’s lecture at GCU, by rejecting their conservative students, does more to divide people than unify them. Jacob Chludzinski from the University of Michigan similarly pointed out, “Those who have been the most successful at spreading the Gospel and leading people to Christ have done by understanding the differences we have in society.”
A university cannot teach its students to impact their communities if it fails to educate them about how to engage rather than ignore with whom they have differing opinions.
Paul writes in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, perfect will of God” (HSCB). Christian schools have gone so far to ensure students are not “of the world,” they have failed to give them a chance to experience life “in the world.”
Ian Mac Taggart from the University of Buffalo said, “College is the time to emerge into the world and it doesn’t serve anyone to confine and shield students from that world.”
A fair argument by Charles Dorfeuille of George Mason University is that, “Christianity requires us to just have faith to a certain extent, so diversity of opinion in faith is where I draw the line.” However, Chludzinski points out that “allowing for diversity of opinion on college campuses can help more students understand and accept the spiritual and moral truths within Christianity.”
In essence, for a Christian school to ban Shapiro disregards the very things Jesus promoted on Earth: acceptance of people He disagreed with, engaging with their disagreements in conversation, and telling the truth despite its unpopularity.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.