Thursday, December 18, 2008

Foundation For Individual Rights In Education (FIRE) Report Can Help LDS Students Choose A Secular University Offering Maximum Freedom Of Conscience

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints strongly encourages its young people seeking a college education to attend one of the Church-owned schools available. These include Brigham Young University (Utah), as well as BYU-Idaho and BYU-Hawaii. Church members in good standing pay lower tuition at these schools, and because they are Church-owned, LDS students will be able to fully abide the laws and ordinances of the Gospel without fear of being sanctioned out of political correctness.

Of course, there's a tradeoff for this guaranteed freedom of conscience. To remain students in good standing at these three schools, LDS students must remain Church members in good standing as well. This means remaining qualified to possess a temple recommend, and to receive an annual worthiness certification from an LDS bishop or branch president. To some LDS students, this might prove to be too stifling. So many LDS students will pick a different Christian school (like Liberty University) or even a secular school to obtain an academic degree.

But the downside of many secular universities is draconian speech and anti-hate codes which go beyond mere protection and actually oppress those who prefer to live by LDS or other Christian standards, according to the dictates of one's conscience. An LDS student may be required, for the sake of "diversity", to room with a drunken party animal who listens to black metal or some ghetto transplant who listens to loud, offensive, obscenity-laden rap. Or worse yet, an LDS student may be forced to room with a homosexual or transsexual. And an LDS student who resists the advances of a homosexual may even be formally accused of "hate" (although the latter extreme is still admittedly rare).

So what LDS students seeking a secular university should look for is a school that allows them the greatest freedom of conscience to avoid being forcibly exposed to culturally-antagonistic lifestyles. Fortunately, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) comes to our rescue. They've just issued a report in which they rate and categorize most of the secular universities in the United States for tolerance of free speech. Read their press release HERE. On pages 15 and 16 of their 16-page report, they group universities into three categories: Red Light, for universities openly antagonistic to free speech; Yellow Light, for universities with variable or selective oppression; and Green Light, for universities generally respectful of free speech with only a bare minimum of speech codes.

To find out about universities in your state, click HERE to select the state of interest. From there, you can select the campus of interest.

LDS students should first consider universities on the Green Light list. Unfortunately, this is too easy because there are only eight of them. They are listed below:

(1). Alabama A&M University: Individual FIRE report HERE.
(2). Carnegie Mellon University: Individual FIRE report HERE.
(3). Cleveland State University: Individual FIRE report HERE.
(4). Dartmouth College (NH): Individual FIRE report HERE.
(5). University of Nebraska–Lincoln: Individual FIRE report HERE.
(6). University of Pennsylvania: Individual FIRE report HERE.
(7). University of Tennessee–Knoxville: Individual FIRE report HERE.
(8). University of Utah: Individual FIRE report HERE.

Bear in mind that these eight universities merely meet FIRE's standards for supporting free speech; they still may provide a social environment inconsistent with LDS standards. The idea is that if you are LDS and are looking for a university where you have the best chance of practicing your religion unmolested, this is the list you should check first.

If none of the schools on the above list are suitable, then you can start checking the list of Yellow-Light universities on page 15 of the report. They may have only one or two objectionable policies which you can easily trend around.

However, Red-Light universities may have numerous objectionable anti-free speech policies, and you're better off avoiding any of them if possible.

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