Almost two weeks ago, Comment published my article Is That Disagreement Religious—or Political?, about the political differences between evangelical academics and their academic colleagues. Here’s my opening paragraph:
In the political conflicts between right and left, evangelical Christian faculty are often in danger of being squeezed in the middle. Not only are they frequently out of step with the academic political mainstream, but the strong connection between evangelicalism and conservative politics outside the academy can make them seem like a “fifth column” to their more liberal colleagues.
I hope you’ll read the whole thing and let me know what you think of my analysis.
Since I work for a parachurch organization, however, I’m not satisfied with stopping at analysis — I want to do something! I suggest some ideas at the end of my article, but they are just ideas. I’d much rather hear from you:
What’s your strategy for navigating political and religious differences in the academy?
There’s a strong case to be made for silence, especially until one achieves tenure. Let’s say it takes you seven years to finish your PhD, another seven years to obtain tenure – that’s a long time to remain silent, though, and neither of those milestones are guaranteed, by any means.
Further, communicating your strongly-held-and-controversial views in a way that attracts others, rather than repelling them, is an ability that takes practice. If you wait until you achieve tenure — assuming that day ever comes — you won’t instantly become a persuasive public intellectual.
So, how do you handle this sticky issue? Are there books, role models, or practices that you’ve found especially helpful? Who do you think does this particularly well?