Academic Freedom a Joke at Colorado Christian University

Rocky Mountain News and Christianity Today Reports:
Less than twelve months after students named Andrew Paquin faculty member of the year, the administration of Colorado Christian University dismissed the popular professor. Paquin believes his concerns about free enterprise led to the administration's May decision.

The school, which does not offer tenure, declined to discuss Paquin's dismissal, but Paquin said CCU president William Armstrong wrote him a letter several months before his release, warning that Armstrong found it "deeply troubling to hear you say that capitalism is inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus." Armstrong has said that supporting free markets is part of the school's mission.

A former U.S. senator, Armstrong joined the suburban Denver college in 2006. Shortly thereafter, he unveiled a new set of "strategic objectives," stating that the college promotes free markets, limited government, compassion for the poor, Western civilization, and the "original intent of [the] Constitution."

Christianity Today describes Armstrong as follows:

"Armstrong, a successful Colorado businessman, served in the Colorado Legislature, U.S. House of Representatives from 1972 to 1978 and in the United States Senate from 1978 to 1990. He was a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Senate Banking Committee, and Senate Budget Committee. For six years, he also served as Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. Photo: William L. Armstrong

Deciding not to seek reelection in 1990, Armstrong returned to Colorado. He is currently Chairman of Cherry Creek Mortgage Company—one of the state’s largest lending institutions—and of Greenwood Capital, also a mortgage banking firm, and Blueberry Systems, a software development company. In addition, Armstrong is Chairman of the Denver-based Oppenheimer Fund. Previously he has been a director of six public companies and the owner/operator of 13 private companies including radio and television stations, a daily newspaper, a real estate brokerage company, and title insurance and investment firms."

Paquin, hired the year before Armstrong, assigned books by Jim Wallis (author of God's Politics -Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It) and Peter Singer in his classes. "I wanted my right-wing students to see that the left wing has some validity," he said. But Paquin insisted he is no enemy of capitalism. His ministry, the 10/10 Project, funds microloans for Kenyans to start their own businesses.

Armstrong fired Paquin from a position teaching global studies at the end of the spring semester amid concerns that his lessons were too radical and undermined the school's commitment to the free enterprise system.

How ironic when Armstrong expresses his strong conviction toward a belief in the First Amendment on the Blog For Growth

"..I AM a fan of first amendment rights. I happen to think freedom of speech and publication, particularly on political topics, is absolutely fundamental to a free society. As a practical matter, groups like Colorado Club For Growth and others are about the only way a lot of people have to forcefully express their political opinions and preferences. With tight limits on contributions to candidates, independent expenditures (and groups) represent one of the very, very few opportunities for citizens to counter the overweening power of incumbents and the media. The right of citizens to express their point of view on any subject – particularly about candidates and political issues – is just basic. It’s civics 101. It’s The American Way."

I guess that's only for Americans that don't question Armstrong's views on economics and when "Free Speech" helps fill the coffers of Republican candidates. Buried somewhere deep in the Constitution's "original intent", college professors must have been excluded from having First Amendment Rights.
Funny how Armstrong seem to be living up to his surname too.

"I think capitalism is an efficient and effective economic system," Paquin said, "but I won't deify it as an essential part of Christianity."

Paquin also stated, "Adam Smith, the 18th century Scottish philosopher associated with capitalism, wrote that the individual pursuit of wealth brings economic growth, improving everyone's lot, Paquin notes. But Jesus, he said, taught that the common good is served by pursuing the interest of others."

On Paquins blog, he clarifies his position on capitalism:

"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. I have a house, two kids, two cars -- the American Dream. I also work in the slums of Africa, trying desperately to generate markets and enterprise so that people do not have to be mired in stupid poverty. If and when capitalism works - I'm all for it. But the tenets of my faith are bigger than the political economy of the West.

Let me say it this way. In Christ, you and I are set free, not for the individual pursuit of happiness, but set free for the collective pursuit of holiness. We are called by God not for ourselves, but for the glory of His Kingdom, and for the service of others. We, the fortunate ones of this great country have somehow forgotten that it is impossible to serve others while at the same time believing we are better than the others we are called to serve. Selfishness, greed, gluttony - these are epidemic in our culture. These might be the real threats to our way of life, but because they stare at us in the mirror, we are reluctant to say so. Instead, we write off the prophets among us as "liberal", "radical", or even "anti-American."

One of Paquin's students, Trevor Simmons, said CCU's strategic objectives "nearly incorporate a political agenda into the curriculum."

Pres. Armstrongs view is,
"Like Colorado Christian, most evangelical colleges and universities expect professors to adhere to confessional tenets. Yet few adopt statements on political or economic systems."

"There is no connection between free markets and Christianity," Armstrong said. "But we teach other things that aren't rooted in Scripture, like that H2O is water."

Academic freedom at a Christian university, he said, is "freedom for Christian scholars to explore the great ideas of history in light of the mission of the university and with respect to its denomination."

What do other Colorado Christian University Students say?

A petition to have Paquin's contract renewed has been started and is available here:

Support Panquin's 10/10 project.

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