Thursday, February 12, 2009

Crucifixes in the Classroom

Yesterday as I was surfing the website and saw this story on Boston College who is facing some serious discussions about their efforts to put up crucifixes in the classrooms across campus. Now I can see why an institution like BC has issues with this if not all the professors are Catholic or even some other denomination. I suppose even some Christians might take offense at the presence of the crucifix in an educational setting. The thing I find interesting is that while many want plurality and "objectivity" in the classroom are trying to do so within a Catholic/Jesuit college environment. Both students and faculty are well aware of their history and beliefs when they apply to work or study there.

This is not a lone incident. I've heard a number of students make similar sorts of comments about Augustana College's preferences given toward Christianity. Augustana is a Lutheran ELCA school which, for the most part, is a progressive and open environment to explore religious and philosophical questions, or avoid them altogether. But at its heart it is a Lutheran School, funded by Lutherans, where you are not asked to sign a lifestyle contract nor attend worship, write or sign a credo of belief.

I cannot help but to wonder what is the responsibility of a private religiously affiliated school to provide ample space for religious pluralism? Likewise, at what point do faculty and students simply have to adjust and/accept the historical religious traditions of their given university? What is at stake for the university? What is at stake for faculty and students?