From the print edition of The New American
Not a Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth, by Dr. Everett Piper, Washington, D.C.: Regnery Faith, 2017, 199 pages, hardcover.
During Thanksgiving week of 2015, Dr. Everett Piper (shown), president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, received a call from one of his vice presidents.
“Dr. Piper, I wanted to give you a heads up,” the vice president began. “One of our students confronted me after I spoke in chapel service this morning. He told me I should have had a trigger warning prior to my sermon because it offended him and made him feel uncomfortable.”
After reviewing the text of the vice president’s message, Dr. Piper discovered that the sermon was based on First Corinthians chapter 13, in which the Apostle Paul extols the value of love. The sermon included no sarcasm, and had no political content. “It was a clear call to Christian charity, nothing more and nothing less,” Piper noted.
The problem was that the student felt uncomfortable for being unloving, after hearing a sermon on love.
Piper decided to use his university website to address the issue. “This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt ‘victimized’ by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love.”
Piper added, “That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience. An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad. It is supposed to make you feel guilty.”
After a few more similar remarks, Piper concluded by asserting that college was not a “safe place,” but rather, “a place to learn.… This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up. This is not a day care. This is a university.”
The post went “viral,” and within a week it had been shared by millions of people around the world, making Piper an overnight sensation. His “phone rang off the hook as emails and letters poured in from parents,” thanking him for saying something that needed to be said.
In Not a Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth, Piper expands on the sentiments expressed in his original post, discussing the state of American education and culture and the connections between the two. “Today’s law students are tomorrow’s lawyers and judges — and if you wonder why so many judges legislate from the bench, take a look at what they teach in law school. Today’s business students are tomorrow’s business leaders — and if you wonder why so many corporations are so politically correct, take a look at what they teach in business school.”
Universities were Christian-created institutions of the Middle Ages, Piper explains, to represent “a united body of students and teachers pursuing truth.” Unfortunately, most American universities today reject truth. This is in stark contrast with their founding mission. As Piper correctly notes, Harvard was founded and funded by a Christian minister, John Harvard, with the express mission to “let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.” The other Ivy League schools, such as Yale, were founded on similar statements.
This began to change, Piper writes, with the founding of Johns Hopkins in 1876 on the “German model”: “American education as a whole, through the course of the latter part of the nineteenth century and the entire twentieth century, became much more utilitarian than religious, much more focused on economic and social needs than on philosophy and the study of ethics.” Other colleges followed suit, including the older ones.
Today, American universities cannot even call evil by its name. Piper offers the example of an attack upon Ohio State students in November 2016 by Abdul Artan, who drove a vehicle into a crowd. He followed up by slashing and stabbing victims with a butcher knife before he was killed by police officers. “A Muslim student from Somalia,” Piper writes, “Artan posted Facebook rants prior to the attack that revealed it to be an act of jihad.”
Afterward, Piper found Ohio State’s reaction to Artan’s attack shocking. The university invited Nathan Lean, author of The Islamophobia Industry, to campus to help students overcome their “prejudice” and value “pluralism and diversity.” Amazingly, protesters then gathered on campus to read the names of “people of color” who had been killed by police officers, including Artan, listing him as yet another victim!
This article appears in the November 20, 2017, issue of The New American. To download the issue and continue reading this story, or to subscribe, click here.
This failure to discern right from wrong is not new to the college campus, Piper notes, recalling his own experience as dean of a liberal arts college in Michigan. As dean, he taught the freshman orientation course. He required these students to watch Schindler’s List, and react to it with a short paper. “My intent was to force the students to think about the ‘Christian culture’ of World War II Germany and ask themselves these questions: Why would any group of people ever succumb to the atrocities of the Holocaust? Why did the German culture — the culture out of which the Protestant Reformation came — lose sight of the truth to the extent that it could no longer recognize something like genocide and mass murder as being so clearly evil and wrong?”
To Piper’s surprise, one student responded with a well-written paper that concluded with, “Who am I to judge the Germans?”
Piper’s book is full of examples of the effects of moral relativism upon college students at public universities, but he also has a warning for those who believe this has not infected a large number of schools that call themselves “Christian.” At Texas Christian University, students enrolled in a world religions course were required to attend a Muslim mosque on Good Friday.
Some Christian schools teach their students apologetics (how to defend one’s Christian faith), Piper said, while other Christian schools teach their students how to apologize for social injustices. “At the University of San Diego, a Catholic school, black and LGBTQ students demanded that administrators denounce a Catholic saint and remove his name from a campus building because of his ‘colonialist legacy.’ Not surprisingly, other demands included adding ‘gender-neutral’ bathrooms.”
Based on his experience of interacting with other Christian university leaders, Piper has concluded there are three types of Christian schools, (1) Christian in name or heritage only; (2) Christian in appearance but not substance; and (3) Christian in word or deed.
The first group includes schools that “might retain references to the faith in their name,” but “in practice they have openly left orthodox Christianity behind.” The second group Piper finds the “most pernicious.” While advertising themselves to parents and students as being faithful to Scripture and historic Christian belief, they “routinely hire faculty to teach unbiblical and anti-Christian doctrines to students.” In these schools, the Bible classes may appear orthodox, but “the sociology or Western literature classes” have an “anti-Christian bias.”
“Let me be clear on this,” Piper writes. “I want my faculty to teach the inerrancy of Scripture and the historical veracity of the biblical worldview while presenting opposing points of view. Just as I want my students to understand the LGBQT argument better than anyone else, and to understand the biblical response to it.”
This type of teaching used to be standard in a university. In fact, it was considered part of a “liberal education.” While today “liberal” often means statist and secular, that was not the meaning in the past. “Today’s constitutional conservative is in fact yesterday’s classical liberal,” Piper rightly states. “The word liberal implies liberty and liberty demands justice and freedom — in that context I am a liberal! The current cultural definition of liberal has been stolen, co-opted and, frankly, perverted into something it was never intended to be.”
“I am a liberal,” Piper explains, “because I believe in conservation. There are ideas tested by time, defended by reason, validated by experience, and confirmed by revelation; and these ideas should be conserved. I believe in common sense and natural law. We do know rape is wrong, the Holocaust was bad, and hatred and racism are to be reviled.”
Because Piper believes in a liberal education, as he has defined it in the context of classical liberalism, he has a particular animus toward the push for Common Core. “Elites dictate what the teacher will teach,” with Common Core, Piper contends. “The goal of the educator should be the pursuit of truth, not the embrace of the common.”
Unfortunately, in America today, university presidents like Piper are not very common.
Not a Day Care is a worthwhile quick read, entertaining and informative at the same time. Dr. Piper’s book is a needed antidote to the moral relativism and anti-liberty mind-set promoted on most campuses today. Far too few university administrators share his dedication to the founding principles of the concept of the university.