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When Colorado Christian University notified Andrew Paquin, an assistant professor of global studies, that his contract would not be renewed, he knew that not being sufficiently guided by Christ wasn’t the problem. But it might have been that he wasn’t sufficiently capitalist.
“Throughout the process it became evident that the issue of capitalism, the use of a couple of different books were at the core” of President William L. Armstrong’s “discomfort” with him, Paquin said. Those included works by animal-rights ethicist Peter Singer and Jim Wallis, author of God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and The Left Doesn’t Get It. Once Paquin was notified that he couldn’t continue on as a professor, students, faculty and alumni started petitions and contacted The Rocky Mountain News, which broke the story this week and sparked a torrent of anger on the blogosphere.
Of course, Paquin knew that he was a full-time professor at a private, religious institution that does not award tenure; Colorado Christian’s statement of faith says, “We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.” But he didn’t think his views or his teachings would conflict with the university’s mission — and besides, he’d been voted Faculty Member of the Year for 2006.
All that apparently changed when Armstrong became president a year ago and helped unveil a new set of strategic objectives, including to “[i]mpact our culture in support of traditional family values, sanctity of life, compassion for the poor, Biblical view of human nature, limited government, personal freedom, free markets, natural law, original intent of constitution and Western civilization.”
Paquin generated his own response in a blog entry, where he wrote, “My stance on capitalism is this … it is obviously a very efficient and pragmatic economic system that has produced the largest and wealthiest country the world has ever seen. It also can be exploitative, lead to human greed, and leave vast populations behind in its wake. It can turn citizens into consumers. Adam Smith writes that the common good is served by the individual pursuit of self-interest. Excuse me if I believe that the pursuit of my own self-interest might be in contrast to the life of Christ that exemplifies the pursuit of the interest of others. This is my tension.”
Other commentators have chimed in as well. Christianity Today’s blog wondered, “Does Armstrong’s support of a constitutional amendment banning ‘desecration’ of the U.S. flag violate the school’s commitment to ‘limited government,’ for example? As one often wonders in these stories of lines in the sand, How far is too far?” And at a Beliefnet blog run by Jim Wallis and others, Randall Balmer, a professor of American religious history at Barnard College, quipped: “Capitalism, in fact, appears to be Jesus’ preferred economic system.”
At Episcopal Café, meanwhile, a blogger asked, “Let’s put the shoe on the other foot. What if a professor at an Episcopal college or seminary deified the free enterprise system? Would she be fired?”
I’ll have some more to say about this tomorrow.
Plenty of posts have been made about the crowding out of renters, particularly low income renters, in favor of growers who don’t even move into the home, but instead have a string of “215 grows” in urban and suburban areas where rents are cheap. I know of one instance very recently in Sohum where a legit renter was almost “outbid” by someone who was quite open about his intentions. Fortunately, the landlord preferred less rent from a real renter.
This is yet another unfortunate side-effect of prop 215 and its misuses. Obviously they can’t be busted unless somebody links a number of them to a single grower, and except for the unresolved conflict with federal laws, there’s nothing illegal about the practice. Not yet anyway.
I’m thinking that counties and municipalities need to consider special zoning ordinances, designating non-residential growing in a home as prohibited commercial activity subjecting the owner and renter to whatever the normal sanctions are for zoning violations. So long as the goal of the ordinances are the preservation of available low-income housing and not designed to frustrate the intent and purpose of Prop 215, they should hold up.