Dr. Richard Land: What the President’s Free Speech Executive Order Will Mean for Colleges
Southern Evangelical Seminary Leader Says Universities Are Citadels of Speech Suppression and Censorship, Instead of Centers for Free Inquiry They Once Were and Must Be Again
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—As a college president, Dr. Richard Land is concerned by the threats against free speech on America’s university campuses.
But now, President Donald Trump has made a decisive move to defend free speech in higher education.
Land serves as president of Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES, www.ses.edu) in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is also a member of President Trump’s advisory board for faith issues. Land explored this topic in two recent installments of his daily radio feature, “Bringing Every Thought Captive.”
“President Trump struck a significant blow for freedom of speech on America’s college campuses,” Land said, “when he signed an executive order requiring higher education institutions to certify they’re enforcing free speech standards in order to receive federal grants through the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Defense and others. Why would the president do this? As he explained the day he signed his executive order, ‘Under the guise of speech codes, safe spaces and trigger warnings, these universities have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity and shut down the voices of great young Americans.’”
Land pointed to a provocative new study that does much to confirm the oppressive intolerance on the nation’s college campuses—especially the elite ones. University of Pennsylvania professor Diana Mutz delved into this topic in her research, and Real Clear Politics reported that “white, highly educated people are relatively isolated from political diversity. They don’t routinely talk with people who disagree with them; this isolation makes it easier for them to caricature their ideological opponents.”
“When you look which metropolitan areas have the most ‘partisan prejudice,’ you find a startling correlation with America’s most elite schools,” Land said. “According to The Atlantic, the county with the most partisan prejudice in the U.S. is Harvard’s home county. UCAL Berkeley’s home base is 10th. The home county of my alma mater Princeton is 14th. Yale’s home county is 15th, and Stanford’s is 18th. In other words, the nation’s elite schools have become intolerant bubbles of toxic intolerance that seek to stifle dissenting views. The president has struck a blow for freedom of thought, belief and speech—and all Americans should be grateful.”
To illustrate this point, Land highlighted the story of Aaron Haviland, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and the University of Cambridge, a Marine veteran, a conservative Christian and a constitutionalist. In his article in The Federalist titled, “I Thought I Could Be a Christian and a Constitutionalist at Yale Law School. I Was Wrong,” Haviland recounts how he was harassed, cyber-bullied and excoriated for his beliefs at Yale Law School.
“Mr. Haviland goes on to explain that he and several of his Federalist Society friends invited an Alliance Defending Freedom lawyer to speak on campus,” Land said. “Yale’s LGBTQ group immediately called for a boycott, soon joined by numerous other campus groups. Some argued that those who favored ADF’s protection for religion and free speech and the defense of Christianity should be denied admission to the law school.
“Sadly,” Land continued, “Haviland’s story is far from unique. It is the rule rather than the exception on modern college campuses, which have become far too often citadels of speech suppression and censorship, not the centers for free inquiry they once were and must be again if we are to protect our freedoms that are laid down for us in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, but are, in fact, our God-given right.”
At SES, students delve into classroom discussions about topics like these through the recent addition of the “Philosophy, Politics and Economics” program. Offered primarily at just a few top-tier universities around the world, the PPE program introduces students to the Christian worldview of how philosophy, politics and economics intersect, focusing on the works of Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Henry Hazlitt, Karl Marx, Thomas Aquinas, Robert Sirico, Jay Richards and others.
For 27 years, SES has existed to equip students and ministry leaders to share the Gospel from an intelligent, informed and rational biblical worldview. Courses, conferences, seminars, guest speakers and more seek to accomplish this longstanding mission. Central to this purpose is the provision of a biblical basis and an academic understanding of believers’ commitment to Christ. Therefore, SES seeks to provide an educational opportunity where the Christian worldview is both a framework for thinking and a dynamic for living.
Read more about Southern Evangelical Seminary and SES President Dr. Richard Land and his radio feature here. For more information on SES, visit its website at www.ses.edu or its Facebook page, follow the SES Twitter feed, @sesapologetics, or call (800) 77-TRUTH.