Roman Catholic Professor Fired from Wheaton College

Joshua Hochschild was fired for converting to Roman Catholicism.

I often wonder how certain religious-based institutions search for the truth and yet apparently are more interested in doctrinal conformity in which the truth is a given and not an object of exploration and knowledge.

Firing a professor from a faith-based institution for converting to Roman Catholicism may be contractually legal but it is immoral. It may fall under the penumbra of the limitations clause of the A.A.U.P. 1940 Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure but that does not make it just. “Legality” is not always to be conflated with just. Professors should be assessed on performance and not on religious affiliation. Church-related institutions that persecute professors for lack of religious doctrinality particularly when a faculty member did not dissemble at the time of appointment but evolved intellectually or spiritually, should examine what kind of a church they belong to and whether that church benefits from autos da fé.

These evangelical institutions call themselves a voluntary community but they are not. They look and search and destroy any faculty member who deviates from the strict creedal requirements of a church. How can reason, skepticism and academic freedom flourish under circumstances such as these? Where is that sense of tolerance, of recognising that strict conformity to faith and belief is the anodyne of comfort but the enemy of knowledge, of exploration, of engaging in critical commentary of the current order?

For those who claim higher education is riddled with leftists, they should note that many institutions operate under rigid, hierarchical requirements that foist a conservative faith-based agenda on an entire university community and will terminate anyone who evolves intellectually or spiritually in a new direction. Some require allegiance to the Augsburg Confession, the Apostles’ Creed and other doctrinal items as not only a condition of employment but also maintaining continued employment.

How Christian is a university when it violates the academic freedom of academicians in such an egregious manner? Academic freedom should not be destroyed and cynically ignored in the name of God, or the literal interpretation of the Bible but nurtured and protected in a pluralistic, modern society.

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