The president of a Christian college in the US has hit back against “self-absorbed and narcissistic” students in an excoriating online article.
A student at Oklahoma Wesleyan University last week complained to Dr Everett Piper because he felt “victimized” by a sermon on love from 1 Corinthinians 13.
“It appears that this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love,” Dr Piper wrote. “In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.”
He said: “Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic! Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims! Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them ‘feel bad’ about themselves, is a ‘hater’, a ‘bigot’, an ‘oppressor’ and a ‘victimizer’.
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“I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen. That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience! An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad! It is supposed to make you feel guilty!”
He launched a blistering attack on students who felt they had a right not to be offended by sermons or lessons, saying: “If you want the chaplain to tell you you’re a victim rather than tell you that you need virtue, this may not be the university you’re looking for. If you want to complain about a sermon that makes you feel less than loving for not showing love, this might be the wrong place.”
At Oklahoma Wesleyan, Piper said, “we teach you to be selfless rather than self-centered. We are more interested in you practising personal forgiveness than political revenge. We want you to model interpersonal reconciliation rather than foment personal conflict. We believe the content of your character is more important than the color of your skin. We don’t believe that you have been victimized every time you feel guilty and we don’t issue ‘trigger warnings’ before altar calls.”
The University, he said, was not a “safe place”, but rather, a place to learn. He concluded: “This is not a day care. This is a university!”
The incident reflects growing alarm among American academics about a culture of political correctness that sees an increasing number of standard texts labelled with “trigger warnings” because they might case distress to readers. Reading lists at some universities have warnings printed by titles like F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (“Trigger: suicide, domestic abuse and graphic violence”) and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway (“Trigger: suicidal tendencies”).