Think piece: Some 'news' about a stunning lack of intellectual diversity in liberal arts, religion faculties

When you think of centers for right-wing thought, you usually don't think of Brooklyn, as in New York City.

However, a Brooklyn College (that's part of CUNY) faculty member -- Mitchell Langbert -- recently posted an academic paper at the National Association of Scholars website with this title: "Homogeneous: The Political Affiliations of Elite Liberal Arts College Faculty."

Now, the results of this study are stunning, but not all that surprising. By definition, the contents of this academic paper is "conservative news," even though it's from Brooklyn, which is about as hip-left as a zip code can get. You can tell this is conservative news simply by doing a logical search for this study in Google News. Click here to check that out.

Thus, this weekend's religion-news "think piece" is from a conservative source, as in Here's the overture:

There are more than ten Democrats for every one Republican among elite professors at America's top liberal arts colleges, a new study found.
Worse, Democrats outnumber Republicans by 70 to 1 in religion departments, and that wasn't the worst disparity.

Yes, we will return to that religion angle. Hold that thought, and read on:

Mitchell Langbert, an associate professor of business management at Brooklyn College, examined the party affiliations of 8,688 tenure-track, Ph.D.-holding professors at 51 of the top 60 liberal arts colleges in U.S. News and World Report's 2017 rankings, and found that there were 10.4 times as many Democrats as Republicans. This sample proved far from complete, since 37.8 percent of professors are either not registered to vote or not registered with a specific party, but the study did show a rough litmus test of political opinion at top colleges.
"The political registration of full-time, Ph.D.-holding professors in top-tier liberal arts colleges is overwhelmingly Democratic," Mitchell wrote in an article reporting his findings to the National Association of Scholars.
Worse, 39 percent of the colleges he surveyed had not one Republican on the faculty. The political registration in the remaining 61 percent proved slightly more than zero but nevertheless "absurdly skewed against Republican affiliation and in favor of Democratic affiliation." At Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. -- ranked number 1 by U.S. News and World Report -- Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 132 to one.

Now, obviously, all of these schools -- just like America's elite newsrooms -- would consider themselves institutions in which the leaders are committed to "diversity," when it comes to hiring practices affecting race, gender and almost certainly sexual orientation.

So how did they evolve into institutions defined by political parties and the issues attached to them?

Now, let me confess that I have spent my career in Christian liberal arts colleges and, well, nobody there dared talk much about their politics. I will say that I have never worked around as many pro-life Democrats, as when I taught or lectured in schools linked to the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

Also, I spent my journalism career in newsrooms outside the Acela zone from Washington, D.C., and Boston. In Charlotte and Denver, there were quite a few Republicans in the newsrooms -- but all of them (well, maybe there were one or two exceptions) were of the Libertarian stripe that leaned left on moral, cultural and religious issues. In the newsrooms in which I worked, I knew of only one other out-of-the-closet conservative Christian and, like me, this journalist was a pro-life Democrat (a Catholic, in that case).

I would assume that if Langbert had dug deeper than mere political-party labels, seeking information about hot-button social issues, he would have learned that his liberal arts schools were even LESS culturally diverse than his numbers suggest.

Oh, and check this out:

Langbert included two military colleges, West Point and the Naval Academy, which had relatively balanced Democrat-to-Republican ratios (1.3-to-1 and 2.3-to-1, respectively). If these two colleges were removed from the sample, the overall ratio jumped from 10.4-to-1 to 12.7 Democrats for every Republican.

Now, what about that religion-department statistic? This is rather amazing:

While the general leftward lurch in American colleges is distressing enough, the bias in religion departments proves particularly noxious, as America's elites seem less and less able to understand conservative religion in particular and evangelical Christianity in particular. In 2016, a New York Times editor actually acknowledged that New York and D.C. media "don't quite get religion." Perhaps some Republican religion professors at the nation's top liberal arts colleges would go a long way toward addressing this problem.

"Republican religion professors"?

Uh, that's not the point, is it? Obviously, Langbert assumes that political labels adequately describe the doctrinal viewpoints of people in academia. But what is going on with the religion-studies numbers?

Actually, for me, this 70-to-1 ratio between Democrats and Republicans doesn't surprise me at all. You see, these schools are not opposed to religion. The administrators are simply in favor of good religion, and they are opposed to bad religion.

The statistics in this study tell us what kind of religion is considered good, and smart, in these settings and what kind of bad, and, thus, dumb.

Anyone want to offer an alternative interpretation?

Read on.

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