Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Liberty University just gutted its entire Philosophy Dept., including all professors, according to one who says he was notified not by phone but by a letter in the mail. The school offers a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, no word on how that will affect current students or if they have even been notified.
“Liberty University has chosen to completely dissolve the philosophy department. As of June 30 I am unemployed,” Professor Mark Foreman writes on his Facebook page, noting there is no retirement program.
In a comment Professor Foreman says, “our entire department has been laid off,” and adds, “we had no notice that this was coming. We all got letters telling us we were nonrenewed the last couple of days. There is no retirement program,” he notes. “And I don’t know what my plans are yet. Still reeling from the news.”
Messiah College Professor John Fea, who first reported the news, writes, “This speaks volumes about Liberty University’s commitment to Christian thinking and the liberal arts. But it doesn’t surprise me.”
“Last year,” he adds, “Insider Higher Ed reported that Liberty has been losing students. It made multiple faculty cuts in June, including the termination of eleven divinity school faculty.”
On the school’s website Liberty University lauds it philosophy degree which it says “will prepare you to assess theories and worldviews by analyzing and evaluating claims and arguments from a biblical perspective.”
“Prepare for your career as you study multiple-perspective thinking led by professors who share your passion for philosophy and who are grounded in their Christian faith. Learn how to express your position and argue for the truth of Christian Theism.”
It’s not known how the school will now offer that critical piece of a Christian education.
“Honestly, what’s the point of a university where philosophy isn’t even on the menu?” Mehta asks. “I know it’s Liberty, but even Christian schools usually pride themselves on making sure students are well-versed in the humanities. Not here. Not anymore.”
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‘Don’t Go Condemning’: Pope Blasts US Bishops Over Attacks Against Biden
Pope Francis is offered up strong criticism against America’s conservative bishops for their attacks against President Joe Biden, a devout Catholic, over his stance on abortion. The Roman Catholic Church opposes abortion, among many other acts, but U.S. bishops have singled out Biden’s pro-choice policy and are moving to refuse him the holy sacraments, such as communion, as punishment for it.
“What must the pastor do?” Francis, The New York Times reports, said when a reporter asked him about President Biden and abortion. “Be a pastor, don’t go condemning. Be a pastor, because he is a pastor also for the excommunicated.”
While President Biden, only the nation’s second Catholic to be elected president, personally opposes abortion, he strongly supports a woman’s right to choose and does not believe it is the government’s right to interfere in that personal and constitutionally-protected decision.
“I have never refused the eucharist to anyone,” Pope Francis also told reporters.
The Times adds, “Bishops should be pastors, he said, not politicians.”
Back in June the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) overwhelmingly voted to move toward chastising President Biden for his abortion stance, despite the Vatican issuing a clear warning they were not to do so.
“Some leading bishops, whose priorities clearly aligned with former President Donald J. Trump, now want to reassert the centrality of opposition to abortion in the Catholic faith and lay down a hard line — especially with a liberal Catholic in the Oval Office,” The New York Times reported in mid-June.
“If we look at the history of the church, we will see that every time the bishops have not managed a problem as pastors, they have taken a political stance on a political problem,” the Pope told reporters on Wednesday while on a plane returning to Rome.
The Pope also told reporters, “communion is not a prize for the perfect,” and “the eucharist is not the reward of saints but the bread of sinners.”
Vatican: It’s ‘Morally Acceptable’ to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine Derived from Aborted Fetuses
The Vatican released a statement Monday that said it’s “morally acceptable” to receive a vaccination for COVID-19, even if the vaccine’s research or production involved using cell lines derived from aborted fetuses. They cited the “grave danger” of the pandemic as their reasoning behind the controversial move.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office charged with promoting and defending church morals and traditions, released a heavily cited document that stated, in part: “when ethically irreproachable COVID-19 vaccines are not available … it is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.”
Anyone objecting to the vaccine due to its nature and their religion may do so, but the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith noted these entities must “do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behavior, becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent.”
The Vatican News reported that Pope Francis approved the text on Thursday.
“In such a case, all vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive,” the report said.
“In view of the gravity of the current pandemic and the lack of availability of alternative vaccines, the reasons to accept the new COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are sufficiently serious to justify their use,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in their own statement last week.
The U.S. conference said that receiving one of the vaccines “ought to be understood as an act of charity toward the other members of our community” and “considered an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good.”
The Separation of Church and State Under Threat From Current Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that could allow local governments to display religious iconography on public property.
The case — a consolidation of American Legion v. American Humanist Association and Maryland-National Capital Park v. American Humanist Association — revolves around a memorial to World War I soldiers. The memorial features a 40-foot tall cross, and was erected on public property in Bladenberg, Maryland.
A federal appeals court showed that the “Peace Cross” memorial violates the Constitution’s ban regarding “respecting an establishment of religion” under the First Amendment, but it is likely that the new Supreme Court, with a five person conservative majority, will reverse the lower court’s ruling.
The issue of religious imagery on public lands had appeared settled in the 1980s, after County of Allegheny v. ACLU. In that ruling, Justice Harry Blackmun wrote that the United States Constitution, “prohibits government from appearing to take a position on questions of religious belief or from ‘making adherence to a religion relevant in any way to a person’s standing in the political community.’”
This ruling did allow some leeway, including images of Muhammad or Moses, due to their connections with the law, but did not allow for other religious symbols.
This test has also been at the heart of fights over displays of the Ten Commandments and if such a display is that of a legal document or a religious one.
A Supreme Court reversal could lead to additional religious imagery at city halls, courthouse, schools and other institutions, and open the door to future challenges over school prayer and other changes sought by American evangelicals.
It will also signal future challenges with a religious bent, including potential “religious freedom” cases that can limit LGBTQ and other civil rights.
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