We are in a political season and the posting of a petition in support of William Ayers was a political act. Our concern however is not political. Our concern is for the church. By their signatures the Concordia professors who signed the petition in support of William Ayers have signed on to a philosophy of education that contradicts what the Scriptures teach.
It would seem enough reason for a Christian to avoid a petition, if that petition supports a man who admits to helping organize fire-bombings of the Pentagon and individual homes amongst other radical actions and that even though these things happened years ago, to this day he states that he does not regret these things. But that is not the most important reason for questioning these signatures on this petition. The most important reason is of a more churchly nature.
The issue for the church is the matter of what sort of education theory is to be espoused in our university. Dr. Johnson, the president of Concordia, needs to take a stand against the pagan education theory of William Ayers that is described in the petition. If Dr. Johnson will not do it, then President Kieschnick needs to step in and take a stand against this sort of godless theory making its way into our university. If President Kieschnick will not take such a stand then we the pastors and lay people of the synod will need to find some way to make sure that the universities of our common confession are indeed founded on education theory that is not pagan and godless but scriptural and Lutheran.
If all you have read is the petition you will probably think that I am exaggerating when I claim that William Ayer’s philosophy of education is pagan and godless. On the surface it just looks like a statement in support of academic freedom. But if you limit yourself to the superficial view of the petition you have also been deceived into thinking that the worst thing William Ayers ever did was walk in a few protest marches as a young kid. After all, here is how the petition describes his fire-bombing activity: “It’s true that Professor Ayers participated passionately in the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s, as did hundreds of thousands of Americans.”
So let’s take a look at what William Ayers says about education theory and see what is being hidden in the code words of the petition which says that he is simply a proponent of free speech and academic freedom. We will only be able to scratch the surface here. We encourage you to pursue the links provided here to learn more about Ayers’ pagan, godless ideology.
Bill Ayers is a Radical
Just for the record, before we get to the education theory, here is a snippet of Ayers describing the work of the American Red Army – the group with which he did the fire-bombing: “Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home. Kill your parents” (quoted on the website “A Guide to the Political Left“).
Bill Ayers Education Theory is Based on Dialogue and Not the Communication of Truth
Concerning education theory, the first point to be made is that William Ayers’ theory is post-modern. What that means for education theory is that he believes that education is more about dialogue than it is about imparting knowledge and information. It also means that his verbiage tends toward gobbldy-gook and is just so much semantics. Consider this quote from Ayers:
We are most human after all when we are in dialogueâ€”dialogue stimulates the mind and the imagination. It creates community even if the community it creates is sometimes contentious; dialogue is the harbinger of disequilibrium because it is an inquiry into something complex; dialogue requires self-awareness, empathy, thought, and a willingness to commit to using language well.
Here is Ayers quoting his mentor, Paulo Friere
Through dialogue the teacher-of-the-students and the students-of-the-teacher cease to exist and a new term emerges: teacher-student and students-teachers. The teacher is no longer merely the-one-who-teaches, but one who is himself taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught also teach. They become jointly responsible for a process in which all grow.
Do we want classrooms filled with students teaching the teacher?
Paulo Friere was a liberation theologian in Chile in the 1960’s For those of you who know anything about liberation theology this will make sense. Liberation theology is a leftist, liberal version of Christianity that asserts that Jesus did not come to forgive sins but to create social upheaval so that the poor folks exploited by capitalism would be inspired to overturn their oppressive governments. Bill Ayers comes out of this world of thought and peddles this sort of thinking in his education philosophy. This is also the theology that is behind Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s radical preaching against America.
This mindless blathering of dialogue is apparent in a video clip where Ayers spoke last year at a commemoration of the founding of the Michigan State University chapter of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society). As we shall show below, a “democratic society” in this case simply means communism.
Education is Intended to Result in Revolution
This emphasis on dialogue also sets the stage for Ayers views that education is intended to result in revolution. Through teacher/student dialogue there is energy created to inspire people to overturn the systems that have been set in place that have held society back. This is what the petition means by stating that Ayers calls us to question dogma, orthodoxy, and authoritative claims. Here is a quote from an Ayers treatise on improving education environments:
To be aware of the social and moral universe we inhabit and share, aware, too, of what has yet to be achieved in terms of human possibility, is to be a teacher capable of hope and struggle, outrage and action, a teacher teaching for social justice and liberation.
The fundamental message of the teacher, after all, is this: You can change your life. Whoever you are, wherever you’ve been, whatever you’ve done, the teacher invites you to a second chance, another round, perhaps a different conclusion. The teacher posits possibility, openness, and alternative; the teacher points to what could be, but is not yet. The teacher beckons you to change your path, and so she has but one basic rule: to reach.
Here is a quote about the goal of education being the call to revolution. It is from the SDS website (Students for a Democratic Society, which Ayes supports, as stated in the video clip highlighted above)
We commit to changing the character of education and to affirm the necessity of Ethnic, Women’s, Queer, and African/a studies departments as correctives to the historical bias of academia. We further affirm that curricula in general must be challenged as to both their means and their ends. Education must liberate society from, and not perpetuate, the condition of domination by a select few.
Ayers Philosophy of Education is Godless and Pagan
Consider the following quote from the treatise cited above. Notice how Ayers considers children to be hunks of goo (this is why the abortionists feel they can kill babies without guilt – we are just soulless, hunks of goo). Notice also the radical individualism that characterizes Ayers’ view of man, not too mention his use of potty language in the public square.
I urge teachers to start with a faith that every child comes to you as a whole and multidimensional being, much like yourself. Every human being, no matter who, is a gooey biological wonder, pulsing with the breath and beat of life itself, eating, sleeping, pissing and shitting, prodded by sexual urges, evolved and evolving, shaped by genetics, twisted and gnarled by the unique experiences of livingâ€”just like you. Every human being has as well a complex set of circumstances that makes his or her life understandable and sensible, bearable or unbearable; each is unique, each walks a singular path across the earth, each has a mother and a father, each with a distinct mark to be made, each is somehow sacred. This recognition asks us to reject any action that treats anyone as an object, any gesture that thingifies other human beings. It demands that we embrace the humanity of every studentâ€”that we take their side. Easy enough to say, excruciatingly difficult to enact in the daily lives of schools.
Ayers Philosophy of Education is Marxist/Communist/Socialist
The video clip referenced above is Bill Ayers speech at an event commemorating the SDS chapter at Michigan State University. Here are their nine principles of unity with my commentary in parentheses.
1. We want a participatory democratic society.
2. We want the end to restrictions on free expression. (homosexuals and lesbians must not be criticized in a truly free society)
3. We want the basic needs of all people be met. (healthcare and things of this nature are a right and should be provided by the forced redistribution of wealth)
4. We want an immediate end to all forms of oppression and domination. (i.e. capitalism)
5. We want an environmentally sustainable society.
6. We want a proper education.
7. We want a non-hierarchical society. (i.e. communism)
8. We want transparency and involvement in community interactions with businesses and other institutions. (i.e. the end of capitalism)
9. We want the end to all wars of aggression, imperialism and the socio-economic and political structures that support and profit from them. (down with the United States)
As I mentioned above, this only scratches the surface. If time permits and this issue is not resolved, we will share more details on William Ayers’ godless, pagan theory of education.
When all is said and done are our professors of education that signed this petition leftist radicals or just ignorant of the leftist education theory behind this petition? Neither option is very encouraging. Even if it is “just” the latter, action needs to be taken on this matter so that the brothers of John the Steadfast and all LCMS pastors and laymen can be assured that proper supervision is being practiced in our universities with our faculty.