BENSON | AFA Journa Associate Editor
While American universities may proclaim diversity as an exalted
value, a recent study shows that the only freedom of thought that
really exists on campus is "to believe the dominant political ideology.
Other ideologies are marginalized." (Klien and Western. For full
text of study, follow links below.)
But Phil Mitchell doesnt need a study to validate what he
has experienced for over 20 years.
"The truth is, universities are the most hostile, narrow-minded
and intolerant environment in society," Mitchell said.
Mitchell, 57, is a former history professor at the University of
Colorado (CU) and a deeply committed Christian. He was fired from
the history department last spring when one of his students objected
to having to read Charles Sheldons In His Steps, a
book about liberal Christianity at the turn of the 20th century.
After Mitchells story hit the media, he was reinstated. However,
recently he was told he would no longer be approved to teach history
anywhere at the university after Spring, 2006. He is now seeking
a teaching post in an environment less hostile to Christians.
Ironically, CU is also the academic home of Ward Churchill, the
controversial, America-hating, leftist professor who wrote that
those who died in the 9/11 attacks were not innocent victims. Rather,
he called them "little Eichmanns," a reference to Adolph Eichmann,
the Nazi bureaucrat who implemented Hitlers Final Solution.
Churchills comments caused two liberal northeastern schools
to cancel his speaking engagements and the governor of Colorado
to call for his resignation. But in the name of free speech and
academic freedom, Churchill received strong support from members
of his department.
He resigned his post as chairman of the ethnic studies department,
but remains a tenure track professor at CU at an annual salary of
In the following interview, Mitchell reflects on his life as a
follower of Christ in a secular university setting that is increasingly
hostile to Christians.
AFAJ: Who is Phil Mitchell?
MITCHELL: I grew up in a wonderful Christian home in Laramie,
Wyoming. Mom and Dad loved the Lord and Grace Baptist was the center
of our family activities outside the home.
I attended the University of Wyoming, getting a degree in social
studies education. I then went to a little farming community in
eastern Colorado and taught English for two years. At the request
of two students I started a Bible study. God then granted the most
remarkable revival I have ever personally participated in. About
half the high school was saved and many, many youth from the surrounding
I had planned all along to go into the ministry, so after the two
years I enrolled at Denver Seminary. I served a church while going
to school and there I met Nancy, who has become as good a wife as
a man can have.
I then served two churches in California, but we were homesick
for Colorado and I also was being led to be "an apostle to the Gentiles."
I felt called to represent Christ in the secular academic community,
so we moved back home and I started graduate school in history at
CU Boulder. God granted me favor with the faculty and I started
teaching almost immediately. For 20 years I felt like Joseph in
AFAJ: Tell me about your large family.
MITCHELL: When Nancy was 19 years old she felt the Lord
wanted her to have a large family. And apparently we do! We have
six birth children and three adopted. My daughter told some visitors
that we get our children three places at the hospital,
at home and at the airport.
Nancy felt a strong leading from the Lord to adopt children of
color. I was hesitant at first, but she went over my head to the
Then we decided to adopt boys they are harder to place
and I wanted to adopt from a place of great poverty. So,
Stephen came to us from India, arriving when he was 13 months. He
is now 17 and taller than I. We then adopted two African-American
boys, Josh, 13, and Peter, 9.
AFAJ: What happened in the classroom that led to your firing?
MITCHELL: It happened last Spring. As I have for many years,
I had my students read In His Steps by Charles Sheldon. Its
a story in which a pastor asks his congregation not to make any
big decisions without first asking, "What would Jesus do?"
One of my Jewish students became incensed at this and angrily confronted
me for trying to proselytize her. She complained to the department
head. Understand that Ive had many Jewish students read this
book and enjoy it thoroughly. But this particular student
who had had no problem with me had recently seen the Mel
Gibson movie, The Passion of the Christ. I think her reaction
was a result of the emotion created by the film.
AFAJ: Had your superiors ever previously objected to your
classes reading the book?
MITCHELL: No. However, for many years I knew there were
certain members of the history department who hated I mean
hated my Christian faith.
AFAJ: Describe the growing hostility to Christians on campus.
MITCHELL: In my view the hostility toward the Christian
faith on college campuses is the result of hostile faculty who see
Christianity as a threat to leftist influence. They are right about
My students are almost unanimously tolerant, but the hostility
[from faculty] is enormous, widespread and mostly unchecked.
Christian faculty and students face an atmosphere of unremitting
anger, prejudice, bigotry and discrimination.
AFAJ: How do they rationalize such obvious hypocrisy?
MITCHELL: Todays university faculties are a classic
illustration of Ephesians 4:18: "Having their understanding darkened,
being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that
is in them, because of the blindness of their heart."
Leftists have always rationalized hypocrisy and oppression. They
view themselves as a knowledgeable elite who need to tell the masses
read students in this case how to
AFAJ: What is it going to take to reestablish some sense
of fairness concerning real diversity at American universities?
MITCHELL: Our universities are run by tenured faculty for
their own benefit. Most will not give up perks and power willingly.
The people who pay the bills legislatures, students and alumni
will have to step in and demand change. The most important
change is to end faculty self-governance and demand intellectual
diversity. It will take either divine intervention or a nuclear
device or both.
AFAJ: What is the most profound thing that you will take
away from this?
MITCHELL: Our God is sovereign over the affairs of this
world and no man can thwart His will. The academic community, which
feels it is so powerful and invincible, will be swept away as though
it never existed.
When I spoke to legislators recently I asked them how many could
remember thinking that Communism could never be defeated. They all
raised their hands. Then I reminded them of William Buckleys
observation that one morning God cleared His throat and Communism
I have also been reminded that God uses us in His own way and in
His own time. Eleven days ago I was as obscure as any college professor
on earth. Now my story is known by tens of millions around the world
and I am being blessed by the prayers of countless numbers of Gods
more about this story on the Internet
text version of Klien and Western study
on the controversy by Denver Post staff writer David
of Mitchells interview on The OReilly Factor
of Ward Churchill