A self-described “liberal feminist,” Anna Keating thought she would be a good fit for the role of Catholic chaplain in a small, progressive liberal-arts college. But she eventually discovered that the school’s adoption of what has come to be called “antiracism” created an environment inimical to any Catholic—or Jewish—student activities, and perhaps to religion altogether:
The drive to eliminate “whiteness,” masculinity, and “heteronormativity” on college campuses has made entire religious traditions suspect, particularly those that are absurdly lumped together as part of “Western spirituality”—despite the inconvenient fact that the majority of the world’s one billion Catholics are neither white nor Western, or that Judaism includes African and [Middle Eastern] and other non-European peoples.
Most people certainly don’t think that leveling group difference means tinkering with the religious demographics of an institution. But college administrators made it clear to me that members of certain religious groups were overrepresented on campus. This was why the college wanted to get rid of chaplaincy programs. . . . Inequity, [in the understanding embraced by campus administrators], means any difference among ethnic groups that isn’t reflected in the racial demographics of the United States.
How does this relate to religion? I didn’t think that it did. But [my supervisor] decided that because Jews—being a tiny percentage of the U.S. population—are overrepresented in higher education generally, and at the college where I worked in particular, antiracism in this instance required that the number of Jewish students be reduced. Moreover, because there were 60 students at Shabbat and only a handful of Muslim students on campus, the Jewish group should not exist.
In the hermetically sealed world of campus progressivism, the fact that all of this sounds more than a little anti-Semitic is mostly ignored. So is the idea that religion may have something to offer that wellness programs, for example, cannot. And that is precisely what the administration planned to replace the chaplaincy program with.
More about: Academia, American Religion, Anti-Semitism, Secularism