‘Inclusive sensitivity’ does not apply to Christianity and Judaism

The firing of a Hamline University professor for showing a depiction of Muhammad has sparked significant debate on inclusivity versus academic freedom.

'Diversity, Equity and Inclusion' are contradictory to the numerous instances of anti-Christian and anti-Jewish bias in academia.

The recent firing of Professor Erika López Prater from Hamline University for showing a depiction of Muhammad reveals a troublesome contradiction of the inclusivity agenda in today’s academia: it does not apply to Christianity or Judaism.

Hamline is in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

During her course on global art history in October 2022, López Prater briefly showed a medieval rendition of Muhammad during a virtual lecture, according to Inside Higher Ed. Several students complained to the administration, arguing that the artwork was disrespectful to Muslim students.

After firing López Prater, Hamline administrator’s issued an announcement to students, faculty, and staff addressing the university’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), Reason reports. 

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“We believe in academic freedom, but it should not and cannot be used to excuse away behavior that harms others,” Hamline’s administration asserted as reported by Reason. The original announcement has since been removed from the university’s website.  

Hamline determined that “respect for the observant Muslim students in that classroom should have superseded academic freedom.” 

But subordinating academic freedom to respect for religious views is not the protocol when Christianity and Judaism are the religions in question.

Ranging from mockery to violence, there are numerous examples of anti-Christian and anti-Jewish activities occurring across American college and university campuses. 

In September 2022, for example, students at Tennessee Tech University put on an “All Ages” drag show mocking Catholics and monasticism. Videos of the event posted on Twitter show one performer dressed as a Franciscan monk, making the sign of the cross before stripping to reveal a black and white corset. 

Only after significant pressure from the religious rights organization Catholic League did Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham publicly denounce the event and start an internal investigation of the student group hosts.

Additionally, during a December 2022 football game against Brigham Young University (BYU), which is affiliated with the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS), the Stanford University marching band put on a skit depicting a wedding between two women, mocking the LDS’s position on marriage. 

There is no evidence on the Stanford Band website that Director of Bands Russel Gavin–at Stanford since 2017–or Associate Director of Bands Rachel Vega–at Stanford since 2021–have been investigated for this offensive incident.

Anti-Semitism is also rampant on college campuses. 

Take for example the Jewish student center at the University of Southern California (USC), which had its windows smashed at the beginning of the Fall 2022 semester. There have been no updates into the investigation posted by USC’s Media Relations Department following the event.

In April last year, Campus Reform also interviewed Jewish students who lamented feeling unsafe celebrating Jewish holidays publicly on their campuses, including Harvard and the University of Chicago. 

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The Brandeis Center and the Cohen Research Group published a survey of students in the leading Jewish fraternity and sorority in spring 2021. Campus Reform summarized  that 65% of Jewish students surveyed “felt unsafe” on campus. Of those surveyed, 55% of Jewish students, “personally experienced an anti-Semitic verbal attack in the past 120 days.”.

Compare the Hamline case with the stories exposing anti-Jewish and anti-Christian activities on campuses.

While López Prater showed the deception of Muhammad for intellectual importance, many instances of anti-Christian and anti-Jewish bias and intimidation have nothing to do with academic pursuits, but are instead deliberate attacks against Christians and Jews. 

And, anti-Judeo-Christian bias continues to be accepted as the status quo on campuses and classrooms.

Campus Reform Higher Education Fellow Timothy Furnish notes that many “faculty members distrust, if not actively dislike, Christianity more than any other religion” and cites several prominent textbooks that “treat Islam with outright favoritism compared to Christianity.

Also, nearly 40% of Jewish senior students respondents to the 2021 survey reported being “marginalized or penalized by [a] professor” for their faith during their education. 

López Prater’s case aptly illustrates the inconsistency of academia’s push for inclusivity.

Showing an artistic rendition of Muhammad can get a professor fired within a semester’s time, but the evidence is lacking for definitive disciplinary action in cases of anti-Christian or anti-Jewish bias.

To use the words of the Hamline administration letter, “Ideally, each one of us should respect the lived experiences of others, and take appropriate responsibility, as leaders do, when those experiences fall short of expectations.”

One thing is clear: The feelings—and in some cases the physical safety—of Jewish and Christian students do not count in the eyes of the liberal academy.