A black scholar from the University of North Texas wrote a hard-hitting op-ed in which he blows the whistle on anti-Christian bigotry in academia and claims he is more likely to be discriminated against because of his faith than his color.
Writing for The Stream, George Yancey, author and professor of sociology at the University of North Texas says he’s experienced racism aplenty in the course of his academic life, but it’s been nothing like the discrimination he regularly experiences because of his Christian faith.
“I do suspect that some students have questioned my competency due to some racial stereotypes of blacks, but they are few and far between,” Yancey writes. “ . . . [A]cademia has afforded me the opportunity to often read literature sympathetic to the plight of African-Americans, and it’s been valuable in helping me to advocate for people of color. . . . . To find that kind of sympathetic literature, or experience the same kind of support regarding my faith, on the other hand, has been a struggle to say the least.”
In fact, his personal experience confirms the stigma attached to being a Christian in academia.
“When I was an adjunct professor, I had a semester when I taught sociology of religion and sociology of race/ethnicity. Some of the professors questioned my competency for the course, since my Christianity might ‘bias’ me. Nothing like that would ever have happened when I was teaching race/ethnicity classes; I was never questioned for bias due to my race. In my race class I had complete freedom to do whatever I wanted; in my religion class I had the impression I had better be careful.”
“Often when you are with other academics, they’ll make ugly anti-Christian comments, never considering the possibility they might be insulting people in the group,” Yancey writes. “They just assume there are no Christians there, and that everyone present will appreciate their anti-Christian remarks just as much as they do.”
While he never experienced any employment discrimination due to his race, his research found that roughly half of all academics would be less willing to hire a conservative Christian.
This bias applies to research as well.
“In the first half of my career I concentrated on writing about racial issues. Sometimes my research was accepted in journals, sometimes it was rejected. . . . But the past few years my work has concentrated on anti-Christian attitudes and bigotry. I have a harder time getting that work accepted. What’s really disturbing about that is the reasons reviewers give. I have had some reviewers question my integrity and motives in ways they would never dream of doing when I was publishing articles dealing with race and ethnicity. I’ve had to toughen my skin to take the additional abuse I receive for daring to write about anti-Christian bias.”
As an academic, he tries to write without a prior agenda so that he can follow wherever the evidence takes him.
“I am certain that there are some race scholars — though by no means all — who have an agenda beyond gaining scientific knowledge. Such individuals are free of the recriminations I’ve experienced for writing about anti-Christian bias. Work supporting my position as a black man would never be challenged the way work supporting my position as a Christian has been.”
He’s not looking to generate any special sympathy for his Christian life because he’s proud and happy to be a follower of Christ.
“But if we want a nation where people in all groups are treated with respect, then this is a critical blind spot within academia,” he writes. “Academics need to see that merely being racially tolerant does not mean they are free of other forms of bigotry.”
He adds: “I have often thought that real diversity training should focus on helping individuals treat any out-group member fairly, rather than protecting only certain groups — and it’s undeniable that in academia, Christians are an out-group.”
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