In a fascinating and alarming essay in a national newspaper, Professor Frank Furedi, (author of Power of Reading: From Socrates to Twitter, published by Bloomsbury) sets out a rising threat to academic freedom in British and American universities—a threat which may have strong implications for the preaching of gospel.
Professor Furedi draws attention to two particular areas of academic life where freedom of expression is being seriously challenged. First, there is the banning of speakers whose views are considered controversial. These are not necessarily directly related to the speaker’s present subject, but can relate to something they said or wrote many years ago. For example, the well-known academic and feminist Germaine Greer withdrew from giving a lecture at Cardiff University before she could be banned. Her offence was that she once expressed the opinion that a man trying to act like a woman, even one who has become a woman by surgical means, would not act, sound or behave like a woman. For this and similar opinions the Cardiff students branded her ‘transphobic’, and lobbied for her to be excluded. On this specific point, we as Christians must be very sympathetic towards Professor Greer, who surely expresses the biological and psychological facts of the case. But in any case, surely a university is meant to be a place where a great variety of opinions can be vigorously debated, not a place where speakers who fail to endorse the liberal consensus are banned, and further discussion is suppressed. We live in a very strange world, where feminists campaign to ban Germaine Greer; and she is not the only one who has suffered from this kind of bullying from the ‘trans’ community.