The University of Northwest (UNW) in St. Paul claims to offer “the finest Christian education in Minnesota.” In keeping with their deep humility, the school can also boast that it offers the most blatant hypocrisy to be found among Christian universities in Minnesota. In fact, there are now good reasons to question whether UNW can be properly characterized as a university — much less a Christian university.
That indictment of UNW seems harsh. But it is well deserved considering their recent mistreatment of prominent pro-life speaker Star Parker. Star, who truly is a star in the pro-life movement, was asked to come to UNW to give a speech defending the unborn. The group that invited them was Young Americans for Freedom (UNW YAF). The YAF kids worked for months to organize the event — only to receive a mendacious rebuke of their efforts on February 20th. There were several disturbing elements of that rebuke. I’ve highlighted several below:
1. Open event. UNW administration claimed to object to the fact that Star Parker’s speech was going to be free and open to the general public. This is the least disturbing of all of the administration’s objections. But it is problematic nonetheless. Star Parker might have simply given a speech that defended innocent unborn human life. She might also have talked about the disturbing racist past of the pro-choice movement given that Planned Parenthood’s founder was an unapologetic eugenicist. But the YAF hosts did not even get far enough to select a specific topic because UNW objected to having the pro-life message broadcast to the broader community through the mechanism of an open event. This insistence on closing off the public from UNW events is antithetical to the notion that Christianity should shape the culture rather than being shaped by it. In fact, reaching the broader culture would seem to be the whole point behind the Great Commission.
2. “Radical” Views. UNW administrators objected to Star Parker by claiming that she is a speaker that “radically hold(s) views that UNW as a whole would not agree with.” Obviously, it is impossible to have any speaker who holds views that the entire UNW community agrees with for the simple reason that there is no comprehensive set of views held by the entire community. In fact, it is impossible to find just two people anywhere who agree on everything. Furthermore, such complete uniformity of thought is not only impossible but also undesirable. Of course, none of this is actually relevant because what UNW administrators really meant is that they disagree with at least some of Parker’s conservative views and therefore would like to prevent her from speaking.
3. Diversity of Viewpoint Requirement. Perhaps the worst justification for banning Parker came in the form of a possible condition for bringing her to campus under a different set of circumstances. With straight faces, UNW administrators actually said it would be different if they “were able to bring in a panel and provide a variety of thought.” Let that sink in for just a moment. If Parker wished to argue that it is wrong to intentionally kill innocent human beings (as abortion does), would this “Christian” university demand that someone come in to argue that it is okay to intentionally kill innocent human beings? And does this demand for viewpoint diversity extend to other topics as well? What if YAF wished to bring in a speaker intending to condemn human trafficking? Would this “Christian” university demand that they establish a panel that included a pro-human trafficking Christian?
UNW administrators topped off their rationalization for banning Star Parker with an ad hominem attack, which called her “sensational” and not a “good fit” with the school. This kind of vicious mendacity used to be confined to secular schools. And Christians used to attend Christian schools in order to get away from it. Now, there is no place to hide from assaults on pro-life speech — not even at the “finest” of Christian universities. This is no overstatement given that UNW President Alan Cureton has now weighed in on the controversy by taking the side of the censors. He actually told YAF leaders that he did not want to be “divisive” by allowing Parker to speak.
Imagine if Jesus would have been divisive. They might have crucified Him.
In the final analysis, the message to Christian parents is very simple: If you are considering sending your child to University of Northwestern at St. Paul, think again. Unless they are unprincipled leftists who knowingly lie about their motives in order to suppress free speech, your children are probably not a “good fit.”