Can an Evangelical be a Scholar at ASU West?


ASU West has recently changed its name to ASU West Valley to reflect the geographical area it serves. As an affordable option for parents and students, ASU West Valley is an important resource for all parents. I am a professor there, where I teach philosophy. The views here are my own. I speak and write on my own behalf to let parents and potential students know what they will encounter among professors at ASU West Valley.

A public university needs to remain politically and ideologically neutral. That includes not allowing its faculty members to use ASU resources to push personal political opinions. And yet here in my school, during a faculty meeting, a colleague said of GCU professors, “they aren’t scholars, they are Evangelicals.” I was stunned since I am an Evangelical and a scholar. This colleague insulted an entire religion. They knew the bias of the faculty meeting meant they would not be held to account in any way.

I wrote to the director of my school about this incident to express my offense. I never heard back. I took to my Substack to write about this as a way to let the public know about the bias of such faculty members. I don’t use names on my Substack, and I encourage my readers to always be respectful when they disagree with someone. But at our next faculty meeting, the director of my school, knowing I would be out of town, gave this colleague time to denounce “the person writing the Substack” and ask to be “left out of it,” giving the impression that I used their name. But there was no apology for the insult aimed at Evangelicals.

This colleague said they want to be left out of it. Why? Because they envision a scholarly community where we can have a give-and-take of ideas and stop by each other’s offices for a chat. I guess unless you are an Evangelical, then you don’t count as a scholar and won’t have an office at ASU. This colleague is always welcome to stop by my office for a chat but has never done so. I’m known for being a very friendly person.

I envision a scholarly community where Evangelicals are not insulted and are treated with the same respect radical leftists expect and that we all deserve. Instead, we see that faculty meetings are used to read Native American Land Acknowledgments, talk about settler-colonialism, and promote such things as workshops on how to decolonize the curriculum.

What happens now? I have requested equal time at our next faculty meeting. Since our director has politicized our meeting, it is only fair we have equal time to present our ideas. I know that I am vastly outnumbered (all alone, really), but if I don’t speak up against this implicit bias to defend the Evangelical students of the West Valley, none of my colleagues will. I will keep the public updated.

In my next article, I will outline my school’s push to “decolonize the curriculum.” You can read more at my Substack Dr. Owen Anderson and follow me on Twitter @dr_owenanderson.

Dr. Owen Anderson has been teaching philosophy and religious studies for 21 years and is a professor of philosophy and religious studies at Arizona State University. His research focuses on general revelation and related questions about reality, value, and knowledge. He has been a fellow at Princeton University, a visiting scholar at Princeton Seminary, and a fellow at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has published several books including “Job: A Philosophical Commentary” (2021) “The Declaration of Independence and God” (2015) and “The Natural Moral Law” (2013). He regularly teaches Philosophy of Religion, Introduction to Philosophy, Applied Ethics, World Religions, Western Religious Traditions, and Religion in America.

About Dr. Owen Anderson 3 Articles
Dr. Owen Anderson is a Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Arizona State University