Offended by Offence

Should universities be secular institutions?

A new paper, “Secularism, Critical Thinking and Mount Royal University: Is 100 Years of Progress Under Threat?”, has been added to the religion page of this blog (it can be accessed with the following link – Secularism Critical Thinking and Mount Royal University).  The paper was submitted to the Mount Royal Centennial Reader, a peer reviewed journal that has been created in honour of Mount Royal’s 100 year anniversary.  The introduction of this paper reads as follows:

When I happily accepted a job as a faculty member at Mount Royal University (née, College) in August 2008, I was pleased that I would be working at a secular institution.  Although Mount Royal, when it was a college, was formed as a private Methodist institution 100 years ago, 1959-1976 was the last period in which a religious figure administered Mount Royal’s affairs.  In 1966, the Mount Royal College Act was passed, which made Mount Royal a public institution, distancing it from its religious origins. 

However, a number of recent occurrences threaten Mount Royal’s maturation to secularity.  It is important to alert faculty members, the broader university community and the general public to these challenges, and explain why it is important to confront them.  Such matters pertain not only to those who study and teach at Mount Royal; they are of importance to all universities today.  Examining Mount Royal University’s secularity (or lack of), in fact, provides a significant moment for reflection in its centennial celebrations, and can encourage other educational institutions to contemplate their own circumstances and historical development.  Before these affronts to secularism can be analyzed, however, it is first necessary to outline what is meant by secularism, and why it is particularly important that educational institutions maintain a neutral stance towards belief in the supernatural.