Transphobic. Anti-queer. Extremist. Conspiratorial. Dangerous. Bigoted toward gay people.
These probably aren’t the words that come to mind when you think of Pope Francis.
But they are the words activists and journalists have used to describe the pope when he’s spoken about Catholic teaching on gender ideology.
Pope Francis has been clear about two core Catholic beliefs.
First, all people are made in God’s image and deserve to be treated with love and compassion.
Second, it’s wrong to believe that humans have God-like power over creation to change men into women or women into men.
Is Pope Francis a bigot? Of course not. But smearing political opponents as bigots has become a go-to tactic for the political left when they want to silence those who disagree.
It’s a nasty strategy tactic that’s destructive to political discourse. It’s also effective.
Which brings me to the University of Dallas.
For those who haven’t heard, UD is one of more than 100 colleges and universities to request a religious exemption from the Obama administration’s new interpretation of Title IX.
Title IX bans discrimination on the basis of sex in education. It’s served valuable purposes, such as making women’s NCAA sports what it is today.
Under the Obama administration’s new interpretation of the law, however, the term “sex” now includes sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
Under the Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX, referring to someone by the “wrong” pronouns could be treated as sexual harassment.
Policies that say biological men can’t use women’s bathrooms regardless of their self-defined gender identity will also become verboten.
Offering single-stall bathrooms as a compromise isn’t acceptable under the new Title IX interpretation either.
If a biological male claims to sincerely identify as a woman, he must be allowed to use the women’s bathrooms and locker rooms and reside in women’s dormitories.
If that biological male wants to be called feminine pronouns (she/her/herself) or gender neutral pronouns (ze/zir/zirself), the university must comply.
These are just a few examples of what compliance with this new interpretation of Title IX looks like.
Many conservatives have made the transgender debate about bathrooms and women’s safety.
While there is an argument to be made there (just Google “voyeurism in Target changing room”), making the transgender issue about bathroom use obfuscates why the issue is important.
This isn’t a bathroom issue; it’s a truth issue.
The Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX prohibits speaking or recognizing the truth about gender and sex.
The Title IX exemption isn’t about seeking license to persecute; it’s about remaining free to pursue truth as a university community.
As noted in last week’s edition of The University News, Campus Pride, a far-left activist organization, added UD to its “Shame List” of the “Absolutely Worst Campuses for LGBTQ Youth.”
Any school that requested a religious exemption to Title IX is on the list, including many seminaries.
According to the organization’s website, the “Shame List” was created “for the purpose of calling out the harmful and shameful acts of religion-based prejudice and bigotry.”
At the top of the “Shame List” is a quote from the organization’s executive director, Shane Windmeyer.
“Religion-based bigotry is careless and life-threatening,” Windmeyer said.
Of course, this is the same language used to portray Pope Francis as a mean-spirited bigot anytime he speaks on the issue.
Ever wonder what a university must do to be considered inclusive of LGBTQ students? Campus Pride has got you covered.
In addition to “safe space training” and crackdown on “bias” (disagreement), Campus Pride makes clear that universities have to change their curriculums in order to be properly “inclusive.”
“Issues relating to LGBTQ people should be formally and permanently integrated into existing courses across the curriculum,” lists a Campus Pride page titled “Effective LGBTQ Strategies for a Safer, More Welcoming Campus.” “Courses dealing specifically with LGBTQ issues in the humanities, natural sciences, education, social sciences, and other disciplines should be established … A visiting scholar position in LGBTQ studies should be created and supported on a continuing basis.”
UD will never do these things, nor should we if we want to remain a university dedicated to the pursuit of Catholic virtues.
If we want to be a university dedicated to the pursuit of feelings and ignorance, fine.
But that’s not who we are, that’s not why we’re here. We’re here to pursue truth, wisdom and virtue.
If the price of pursuing truth is being labeled a bigot by authoritarian bullies, then so be it.
“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first,” Christ tells us in John 15:18-19. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world but I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.”
If we stay committed to pursuing truth, many people will hate us. But that doesn’t change the fact that we have an obligation, both to the world and to ourselves, to speak the truth and do so fearlessly.