BotNets on Twitter, Trolling campaigns on YouTube, Fake News and bullying on FaceBook, Instant Messaging for organizing flash-mobs and protests…; has intimidating others ever been easier or more popular? Liberal Catholic college students employ similar tactics against any of their orthodox and outspoken professors who dare challenge their pop group-think heresies or perversions. No wonder college administrators capitulate to liberal activist students, canceling invitations sent to moderate or conservative campus speakers, dismissing chancellors, coddling students with SafeSpaces, writing P.C. language policies inspired by Cultural Marxism, and requiring Trigger Warnings for anything offending liberal ideology. Holding the line for classic liberal education, Western Civilization, freedom of speech, and for public religious expression, is only tougher, perhaps, than it was the last time administration folded in the 1960s before the Yippies and the S.D.S. In either era, though, professors know not to offend the sensibilities and ideologies of their intolerant students, lest, at the least, student organizers incite their peers to leave scathing class evaluations on offending traditionalist professors to get them fired.
It seems that almost no professors at Catholic colleges begin class with the briefest prayer or Scripture reading, and in no way connect their course content with our Church’s official teachings; this, even where the college’s mission statement prominently promotes developing their students’ faith. Should one try beginning class with a prayer from the Breviary and a reading from the Missal, and periodically relating class content to Church teaching, I suppose that professor will run across what I sometimes do: Protestant students objecting to relating any topic to an authoritative Catholic statement (be it from the Catechism, an Encyclical, or a Church Doctor’s writing), non-religious students objecting to public prayer, and Catholic students objecting to Scripture reading in any class other than Theology. Such objections reveal not merely a non-Catholic attitude, but a decidedly anti-Catholic one. Mitigating my apparently offensive practices, I tell my class I understand that not all students are believing, practicing Catholics, so they should feel free respectfully to remain silent during prayer, even mentally reciting their own prayers or poetry while I pray, and, in assignments and during class discussion, openly to argue against any Church teaching. I even invite them to use their electronic devises during class to fact-check me and to raise alternative viewpoints during lectures or discussions. While I am exposing them, then, to Catholic spirituality and thought, one hardly could plausibly accuse me of narrowly indoctrinating my students or of not welcoming open and diverse dialogue.
The illiberal attacks by some activist students are leveled against student academic freedom, as well as that of the professor; even in a Catholic college, one student approached me after class with great concern over writing a paper with a pro-life thesis, saying she feels greatly intimidated by her classmates on our class discussion board and elsewhere. Why was I shocked at hearing her complaint, having watched college protests over our nation for the last few years on television news? Our failure to curb incivility invites more of it.
I refuse to teach my classes at a Catholic College as I do in a State College. Rather, I’ll take part in the revolution of re-establishing a true Catholic identity in Catholic education–or get nixed trying.