Grand Canyon University stood up against a “racial reconciliation workshop” on campus that portrayed Christianity as a “platform for white supremacy.”
On January 4, the university released a statement declaring that “Christianity is absolutely NOT a platform for White supremacy or White privilege,” stating that “the teachings of Jesus Christ are clearly the exact opposite.”
The university placed two dance department instructors on a “corrective action plan” after their “lack of civil discourse and the use of profane and abusive language” during a November 12 racial reconciliation workshop.
The “rampant” use of profanities, which “is not an example of the civil discourse and respectful dialogue that faculty members are expected to uphold in classroom settings,” forms the basis of the instructors’ discipline. In accordance with the school’s expectations for instructors, faculty must “provide a positive example to students” even if they do not agree with every notion within the school’s doctrinal statement.
“The vast majority of families send their young adults to GCU with the expectation they will be taught from a Christian worldview perspective, and faculty are expected to uphold that expectation,” said the statement. “GCU recognizes that critical thought, open dialogue and a fair presentation of all major views are vital to higher education but are indispensable for genuinely Christian instruction.”
Additionally, the workshop “included many statements that portrayed Christianity as a platform for White privilege and White supremacy.” In response, the university outlined the New Testament’s teachings on race and ethnicity, proving that “Christ alone was capable of living a life of sinless perfection and He alone is able to guide individuals and communities toward renewal, reconciliation and restoration.”
“Jesus’ embrace and inclusion of non-Jewish men and women comported perfectly with the clear teaching of Genesis that all human beings have been created in the image and likeness of God and are therefore worthy of dignity, respect and value,” said the statement. “The resolve of Christ to include all races and ethnicities in God’s Kingdom enables His followers to grasp more clearly the breadth and depth and height of God’s love.”
The university likewise decried the “defamatory comments” published in a “one-sided” Arizona Republic article about a faculty member whose contract “was not renewed in the aftermath of that profanity-laced workshop.”
“We won’t address specific comments the Arizona Republic chose to publish that portray GCU as a ‘bigoted’ community ‘upholding White supremacy,’” said the statement. “Frankly, those are ridiculous and do not line up with the facts. The story also painted the picture that difficult conversations regarding racial inequality do not occur on campus, which could not be further from the truth.”
In a phone interview, Grand Canyon University President Brian Mueller told Campus Reform that professors who are not Christians — representing roughly ten percent of the faculty — must sign statements promising that “they will not speak against the Christian worldview.”
Mueller said that he met with the chairs of the fine arts department, who made clear that “this was an issue that evolved in the dance department” that was “not supported by the institution.”
Mueller explained that Jesus’ teachings “broke through all of the barriers that existed historically in the world,” making it “pretty obvious” that the workshop was promoting “completely the opposite of what the truth is.”
Grand Canyon University student Kenna Deters told Campus Reform that her campus “is a home to students of all races, backgrounds, and even religions.”
“As Christians, the vast majority of the student body and faculty see our fellow students not for what the world has painted them to be, but for how God created them, in His image,” she said. “This is evident in our campus culture. A workshop like this has no place on campus, where it does not represent the students. White supremacy is far from encouraged within Christianity; in fact, it is exactly what the Bible and the Christian faith seeks to root out of our society.”
“God is a god of real justice, not the shallow, self-righteous version that social justice emboldens,” added Deters. “As a Government major at GCU, I have had classmates and even professors of all races and ideologies. GCU is a place where real diversity, the diversity of opinion and experience, are able to thrive.”
Another Grand Canyon University student told Campus Reform that the school, “as a private institution that happens to be a Christian focused campus, has the right to shut down what they feel is standing against what their core beliefs are.”
“Saying Christianity creates a platform for racism goes against what GCU believes in,” he explained. “As a university with Christian beliefs, we believe that Jesus is who He says He is. Jesus’ core focus was loving people, whether they were like you or not, whether they were your enemies or your friends, whether they looked like you or whether they didn’t.”
“I think to say that Christianity is a platform for white supremacy is very outlandish and doesn’t show what GCU stands for,” he added.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft