As a university president, one of my obligations is to speak at various different church events. For 16 years, I have traveled the nation delivering talks on everything from religious liberty and academic freedom to the “snowflake rebellion” and the importance of the historical liberal arts model of higher education.
I occasionally am asked to even give a state-of-the-university address concerning my own school, Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OKWU). This past week, I was doing the latter at a conference for evangelical pastors and lay leaders.
Included in my update was the fact that over the past decade and a half this university has waved the banner of Truth — of natural law and common sense — and we have done so without apology. We have fought valiantly against the arrogance of power and the pretentions of men.
I reminded my listeners that this school actually stands for something in a world that is open to everything. We have the audacity to think some ideas are good and some ideas are bad and we teach our students to tell the difference.
Moreover, we hold that there must be a measuring rod outside of those things being measured or we can do no measuring. It is our goal that our graduates leave here understanding that the “yardstick” is actually bigger than their feelings or mine.
We think our Founding Fathers were onto something when they said there are self-evident truths and we think such objective facts are a lot better than the newest social construct. We believe that what is endowed to us by our Creator is superior to what is made up by today’s cultural elites.
We don’t give degrees in opinions at OKWU. We actually expect our students to learn something. We recognize that the lessons of history prove over and over again that opinions always lead to bondage, slavery and oppression. After all, Pol Pot, Mao, Mussolini and Hitler all had opinions and it didn’t end well.
In the face of the daily news, we paddle upstream. We fight against the flow of what is popular, trendy and politically correct. We stand against socialism’s destructive track record and we extol the merits of capitalism in spite of its imperfections. We champion free enterprise because we think it is better than the opposite and we think constitutional liberty is actually a good thing.
OKWU is among the handful of colleges and universities left that champions a good debate within the market square of ideas. We have said that the snowflake rebellion is ridiculous and that the call for “safe spaces” is nonsense. We have said that today’s campus protests are the antithesis of the tradition of the liberal arts and that they represent ideological fascism rather than intellectual freedom; thought police rather than thoughtful dialogue.
We have defended the rights of women. We hold that a female is an objective fact and not a dysphoric fabrication or a fantasy. At OKWU, our co-eds will not be denied their identity, their dignity, their sports, their bathrooms or their showers. We refuse all misogynistic arguments to the contrary.
We believe God defines life and you and I don’t. Our school of nursing’s pro-life mobile ultrasound clinic has saved 156 human lives over the past 24 months.
We believe that girls should be respected and not used and, therefore, we have rescued 32 young women from sex trafficking and currently house them in a dorm we helped build in Thailand. We think it’s absurd for anyone to suggest that nuns such as The Little Sisters of the Poor, should be forced to buy abortifacient contraception and we have stood with these courageous ladies on the steps of the Supreme Court to say so.
This academic community does its best to practice what we preach. We have not backed down. We continue to wave the banner and we refuse to be silent. We try to model what it means to lead and not follow. We take seriously the words of Bonhoeffer: “Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act. Silence in the face of evil is evil itself. God will not hold us guiltless.”
Now here’s the thing: After I gave this report, a pastor who was in the audience tweeted these words before I even left the room: “Political posturing does not change culture.”
Defending human freedom is political posturing? Fighting for the rights of women and the lives of babies is political posturing? Defending truth and refuting lies is political posturing?
Perhaps this pastor and all others parroting his pabulum would do well to remember the likes of William Wilberforce or even a man named Orange Scott, whose “political posturing” (otherwise known as the fight for abolition) did not only change culture, but also changed the church, so much so, that black men and women could sit freely in the same pews with whites who had previously tried to stop this change by calling it “political posturing.”
• Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, is the author of “Not A Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery 2017).