BYU and academic freedom
: This is a weird piece
in this morning’s “Ideas” section of the Globe. Scott Abbott, who once taught at Brigham Young University and is now a professor of philosophy and integrated studies in Utah Valley State College, writes about all the church restrictions and pressures put on faculty members by the Mormon hierarchy, and the threat it poses for academic freedom (tying it into Mitt Romney, of course). OK, Hub Blog has no doubt the church is heavy-handed at BYU, which is why I would never want to attend the university, teach there or send my children there. But BYU is a religious school, and it deserves latitude to run it in a way that it spiritually sees fit. In some ways, BYU reminds Hub Blog of Catholic universities of, say, 30 or 40 years ago, when the Catholic church was also heavy-handed in the way it ran schools. Catholic universities eventually evolved into more flexible, open institutions (and many would argue they still have a long way to go on this front). The Mormon religion and BYU have also been evolving over the years, albeit slowly, and they should be permitted to evolve at their own pace. That, too, is a form of “academic freedom.” In the end, one suspects that Abbott, as a Mormon who knew about BYU’s conservative mindset when he first worked at BYU, is still a little bitter over his professorship spat with the school, which is revealed at the end of the article. Click here
for BYU’s somewhat curt response.