Is there Academic Freedom at our Concordias? By Pr. Tim Rossow

Six of our Concordia Chicago professors signed a petition supporting the person and educational theory of Marxist-anarchist William Ayers. We contacted the president’s office and in a part of his reply he stated that “there is nothing in the Limits of Academic Freedom statement that they sign…which would serve as a basis for ordering them to delete their names” from the petition. This response is confusing. Here is what the LCMS synodical handbook says about full-time members of the faculty of our Concordias (Section, p. 156).

(a) The terms and conditions of every appointment shall be stated in writing and be in the possession of both the institution and the prospective faculty member before the appointment is consummated. Limitations of academic freedom because of the religious and confessional nature and aims of the institution shall be stated in writing at the time of the appointment and conveyed to the person being appointed.

(b) Ordinarily candidates for full-time teaching positions shall be rostered members of the Synod. When laypersons are employed infull-time teaching positions, they shall pledge to perform their duties in harmony with the Holy Scriptures as the inspired Word of God, the Lutheran Confessions, the Synod’s doctrinal statements, and the policies of the Synod.


The handbook is clear that academic freedom can be limited by the confessional nature and aims of the institution (paragraph a above). Even if it is not, as apparently is the case according to President Johnson, every teacher is to pledge their commitment to the Lutheran Confessions and the Synod’s doctrinal statements (section b above).


We assert that supporting an unrepentant murderer and his philosophy of education that is rooted in and thrives on questioning authoritative claims, orthodoxy and dogma is in direct violation of the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions.  


Are we wrong? Your comments, criticism and questions on this matter are welcome.


Pastor Rossow



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