New York University professor Jonathan Haidt told an audience this week there's a new religion exploding on campuses of America's colleges and universities.
And if it isn't stopped, it might be better to shut down the institutions over the next 20 - 30 years.
The new religion, Dr. Haidt says, is creating an existential crises in education while punishing heretics with public shame. And the religion is both intense and destructive.
Heads up parents, grandparents and concerned citizens who are funding public education.
Professor Jonathan Haidt wrote a New York Times best selling book titled, "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion," in 2013.
Much of what he is saying today is in the book, however, his lectures speak to this school year, 2016.
A reader of this column recently made me aware of his book. I had not read it at that time. Thank you.
Speaking at an event organized by the Manhattan Institute this week in New York City, Haidt delivered a warning to Christians and conservatives regarding the true condition of America's education system.
And the culture.
Haidt, a social psychologist whose research examines the intuitive foundations of morality, gave examples of how variations in moral intuitions can help explain the American culture war between the Right and the Left.
And how the intuitions of the Left Progressives are being expressed in an alarming way on American campuses.
He says it's a religion. And the religion of fundamental social justice that is sweeping across campuses is alarming, intense and dripping with extreme liberal fundamentalism.
He told his audience, "There's an extremely intense, fundamental social justice religion that's taking over, not all students, but a very strong space of it, at all our colleges and universities."
Haidt explains how fundamental social justice is rapidly limiting free speech by cultivating "sacred spaces" for issues "supported by increasingly fragile students attending colleges and universities."
"We make something sacred, we worship it, circle around it, often literally circling..." he says, "When you bind yourself together, you trust each other, you have a shared object and you go forth into battle."
Once you begin to worship "it" what ever "it" may be---a rock, a tree, the climate, fighting racism, fighting sexism even the people who advocate certain behaviors--- you have created a god of sorts.
To be sure, I do not agree with all Haidt writes and says---he is a libertarian, I am a Christian conservative.
However, he makes the case with strong evidence, that both our culture and public education hangs in the balance. While the culture and public education "hangs," we are losing our Christian based freedoms and a generation of our kids.
In his book, he gives 3 principles of moral psychology.
The 3rd is "Morality Binds and Blinds."
What is true in the Christian faith in regard to 'binding," is also true in the far Left secular progressive "faith."
Morality is an inherent human need. Most everyone believes their "morality" is the right morality.
So if you organize around fighting racism, fighting homophobia, fighting sexism, they become sacred, an object of worship, a religion.
When someone comes to class and holds another view than the deeply held "religious" secularist view, there is not mere disagreement---they are declared to be blasphemers, and action must be taken against them.
As Christian commitment is, in too many cases, retreating due to churches that choose silence over risk of dissent regarding preaching the whole gospel to not only the church members, but the culture, our kids head out to college with little to no firm foundation of what they believe.
As they enter the new religious "safe places," it can make some sense. After all, doesn't the Bible teach against racism, sexism, intolerance and for love?
In our current political and social climate, if you say something that doesn't fit the accepted narrative, you will be attacked---not merely disagreed with---shunned, marginalized, and now perhaps fined or imprisoned.
The secular progressive Left worship their causes, even using Scripture to affirm them when needed.
While Haidt does not make this point, I will.
Conservative Christians who are active in speaking to the culture---as God intends--- must be very careful our "causes" do not become our gods.
This has already happened to the secular Left, with the religious Left affirming these strange gods from the pulpits of churches built to glorify the one true God. Seeking cultural acceptance and new members, many mainline Christian churches are walking down a dark path because they are blinded by their new and relative gods.
Haidt says, speaking of the academic community, "The great majority of people are really alarmed by what's happening," saying even, "The liberal left is uncomfortable, but has been silent so far."
He doubts that this will continue as the norm, but "If it keeps going the way it's going, we might as well just shut them [colleges and universities] in 10 or 20 years because they will be worthless."
In one place in his book Haidt says, "Human beings are incredibly irrational, biased, imperfect creatures. We are really, really bad at following the truth wherever it leads."
True. And prophetic.
This scenario described by Haidt brings clarity to our current crisis in education, and some clarity to the moral fog in which America finds itself.
Scripture teaches that as a "person thinks in his heart, so is he"---we become what we believe.
Scrpiture also teaches that there are ways that seem right to people, but the end of those ways is death and destruction.
With an emphasis on a perverted kind of tolerance, fairness and equality being used by the secular progressive Left to, in Obama's words, "remake America" (and destroy our country, our institutions and a generation of our kids) there is anger on the part of both conservatives and Christians.
For Christians, it's "righteous indignation." Jesus experienced the same emotion when he saw the money changers in the temple. And the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of His time.
While defining the rise of the new secularist religion on our campuses, and standing against their actions and causes, biblical Christians must be very careful not to allow our opposition to become our god. A god around which we coalesce, and to which we bind ourselves together.
I am a strong advocate that Christians must stand firm in our confused, conflicted culture---and be active, but I pray that the act of living out our faith in the culture will never become the central object of our faith.
The secular progressives have done so and are blinded, we must not become like them in that way.
The most effective way to impact our culture is to "bind" ourselves to Almighty God and His Truth, through our relationship with His Son Jesus Christ. In doing so, we then bind ourselves to one another, not with the social glue of shared social concerns, but by the shared personal relationship we have with Jesus Christ.
We don't sing it much any more, but we should.
"Blest Be The Tie That Binds" is one of many hymns written by John Fawcett. The story behind the hymn is as meaningful as the lyrics themselves. Here are the lyrics. I'll share the story on our live radio program today. Here's how to join me.
Be Bound, but not Blind. Be Blessed.
"Blest Be the Tie that Binds"
by John Fawcett, 1740-1817
1. Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
2. Before our Father's throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our alms, are one,
Our comforts and our cares.
3. We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear,
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.
4. When here our pathways part,
We suffer bitter pain;
Yet, one in Christ and one in heart,
We hope to meet again.
5. This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way,
While each in expectation lives
And longs to see the day.
6. From sorrow, toil, and pain,
And sin we shall be free
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity.