Christianity and the Secular Border Patrol

The Loss of Judeo-Christian Knowledge

by Barry Kanpol (Volume editor) Mary Poplin (Volume editor)
©2017 Textbook XIV, 222 Pages
Series: Critical Education and Ethics, Volume 9


Christianity and the Secular Border Patrol: The Loss of Judeo-Christian Knowledge centrally looks at how secular universities have dominated academic knowledge on the one hand and have also been a part of bias against Christian academics on the other. Authors generally ask for borders of understanding and collegial dialogue to bridge gaps of knowledge that exist because of this bias. Theoretical analysis and narratives from the field describe how overcoming extreme theoretical positions may allow for productive knowledge construction and a more harmonious relationship within the culture wars of our times, especially in higher education.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Advance Praise for Christianity and the Secular Border Patrol
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Illustrations
  • Contributors
  • Introduction (Barry Kanpol)
  • Part 1: Oversecularization of the Academy
  • 1. Blinded by Secular Interpretations of Religious Knowledge (Mary Poplin)
  • 2. Secular Privilege: Deconstructing the Invisible Injustice (David R. Hodge)
  • 3. Secularism: A Militant Faith in a Post-Secular Age (Charles L. Glenn)
  • Part 2: Secular Bias
  • 4. Spiritual Microaggressions: Examining the Covert Messages Directed towards People of Faith (David R. Hodge)
  • 5. Business Academics and Acceptance of Conservative Christians (George Yancey)
  • 6. Understanding Scholarly Antipathy towards Christian Scholarly Perspectives Using Christian Critical Psychology: An Ironic Tale and Analysis (Eric L. Johnson)
  • Part 3: Stories from the Underground
  • 7. Religious, Frustrated, and a Long Way from Home: Religiously-Active International Students and Academicians’ Responses to Religion (Robert Osburn)
  • 8. An Argument for Service Learning as a Spiritual Avenue for Christian and Secular Border Crossings in Higher Education (Joe D. Nichchols)
  • Part 4: Border Crossings
  • 9. Creating Confessional Colleges and Universities That Confess (Nathan F. Alleman / Perry L. Glanzer)
  • 10. Jacques Ellul: A Model of Border-Crossing (Geraldine E. Forsberg)
  • Series index

← vi | vii →




Table 2.1:Manifestations of secular privilege across the lifespan
Table 4.1:Examples of spiritual microaggressions
Table 5.1:Means indicating whether belonging to selected social groups damages or enhances acceptance of job applicants by discipline


Figure 5.1:Open ended questions ← vii | viii →

← viii | ix →



Nathan F. Alleman, PhD, is Associate Professor of Higher Education Studies at Baylor University. He studies marginal and marginalized groups and institutions in higher education. Foci include sociological studies of faculty sub-groups (non-tenure track, religious minorities, faculty denied tenure), faith-based college and universities, and the collegiate identity of student sub-groups (undocumented, community college, religious minority, and food insecure students). He recently coauthored the book Restoring the Soul of the University: Unifying Christian Higher Education in a Fragmented Age (2017).

Geraldine E. Forsberg received her Ph.D. from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Currently, Forsberg serves on the English faculty at Western Washington University where she offers special courses in media ecology, media and culture, and technoethics. Her current writings focus on the foundational perspectives of such writers as Jacques Ellul, Neil Postman, and Marshall McLuhan. She has been published in numerous journals including: The Ellul Forum, Explorations in Media Ecology, and the Journal of Communication and Religion.

Perry L. Glanzer is Professor of Educational Foundations at Baylor University and a resident scholar with Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion. He recently coauthored Restoring the Soul of the University: Unifying Christian Higher Education in a Fragmented Age and the forthcoming book, The Quest for Purpose: The Collegiate Search for a Meaningful Life (SUNY Press, forthcoming 2017).

Charles L. Glenn received his Ed.D. from Harvard University and his Ph.D. from Boston University. He is Professor emeritus of Educational Leadership ← ix | x → and Policy Studies at Boston University. He is the author of Myth of the Common School (1988), American Model of State and School (2012) and ten other books, 300+ published essays and articles. A consultant to Russian, Chinese, Italian, Ukrainian, and state and federal education authorities, Glenn has also served as an expert witness on desegregation, bilingual education, homeschooling, and religious freedom.

David R. Hodge received his Ph.D. from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. Currently, he is a professor in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University. He also holds non-resident appointments at the University of Pennsylvania’s Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion, and Duke University’s Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health, at the Center for Aging at Duke University Medical Center. Hodge is an internationally recognized expert in spirituality, religion, and cultural diversity. His latest book is Spiritual Assessment in Social Work and Mental Health Practice (Columbia University Press, 2015).

Eric L. Johnson received his M.A. in Christian studies from Calvin Collegeand his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Michigan State University. He is Lawrence & Charlotte Hoover Professor of Pastoral Care at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Johnson is also editor of Psychology & Christianity: Five Views and author of Foundations for Soul Care: A Christian Psychology Proposal.

Barry Kanpol received his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. He is Dean of the College of Education at Grand Valley State University. He is known for his extensive work in critical pedagogy and now works to link critical theory to non-secular views in higher education.

Joe D. Nichols taught middle and high school mathematics for 15 years while completing his Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Oklahoma. He is currently a professor and department chair in the College of Education and Public Policy at Indiana University—Purdue University, Fort Wayne, Indiana. He has previously published “Teachers as Servant Leaders” (2011) and co-authored “Understanding Research in Education: Becoming a Discerning Consumer” (2015).

Robert Osburn has worked amongst international students for over 30 years, and for some years was an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota where he taught about religion and educational policy, as well as religion and international development. He studies religion in education, bribery and ← x | xi → corruption, comparative worldviews, and religion and international affairs. His Ph.D. is from the University of Minnesota, along with a Th.M. from Dallas Seminary and a B.A. from the University of Michigan.

Mary Poplin received her Ph.D. from The University of Texas and is currently Professor of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University. Her work includes theoretical understandings of a range of academic world views as well as extensive work with highly effective teachers in low income schools. She has been Dean and director of teacher education and is a frequent speaker both nationally and internationally. Her recent book Is Reality Secular? was published in 2014.

George Yancey received his Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin and is Professor of Sociology at the University of North Texas. He is the author of multiple academic articles dealing with interracial romantic relationships, multiracial churches, Christianophobia and academic bias. He has written several books including Compromising Scholarship: Religious and Political Bias in American Higher Education, So Many Christians, So Few Lions: Is There Christianophobia in the United States?, and Dehumanizing Christians: Cultural Competition in a Multicultural World. Yancey is working to establish the first Christian Studies program at a non-Christian educational institution. ← xi | xii →

← xii | 1 →




The culture wars of our times are perhaps historically unprecedented as evidenced by not only the Supreme Court decision on marriage, but also the recent inauguration of President Trump and the attendant world-wide riots as well as peaceful protest marches. The ugliness of the election process perhaps symbolically reflects on the grave culture wars this country finds itself in, whatever side of the fence one falls on.

Growing up in Melbourne, Australia in the 1960s brought up by Jewish parents, I felt the pangs of discrimination through antisemitism in multiple ways (Kanpol, 1998). Thus, I have been sensitized to forms of what the literature and others in this book call “micro-aggressions” as subtle put downs of one’s religion and ethnicity. But I have been witness also to outright hostility regarding my past religious affiliations. As an adolescent, I was, however, also shocked to also witness my own people so to speak impose their discrimination on others in no less subtle manners. I was smart enough to realize, at least internally, that culture wars were about a struggle over values and belief systems and in some way the imposition over values that defined truth. I was essentially turned off any sort of religion that on the one hand talked about love and “repairing the world,” but on the other hand, practiced the very opposite.

It is no surprise then, that the above scenario in part led me to first studying critical theories as a part of my foray into the Education field. As a theorist then, I was heavily influenced by secular philosophies. I took very genuinely the view that “border crossings,” (Giroux, 1992) has meant the intersection of race, class and gender configurations and its various understandings and manifestations as critical to establishing a more just world (Kanpol, 1998). However, as time marched on (and I grew older and hopefully perhaps wiser), I have been able to witness how critical theories in education at least in the ← 1 | 2 → wider secular academy, have severely lacked a better understanding or at least discussion and pointed dialogue of the intersection or borders if you will, of secularity and faith. I have, in short, been dismayed by the growing cynicism of critical theories—however you define them—postmodern, post structuralism, Marxism, etc., this despite their informed epistemological positions. I have argued elsewhere (1998) that theoretical cynicism has become an end or essentialist entity unto itself (theory for the sake of theory) and that theorists who talk about alleviating the despair and oppression we see all around, but do not offer alternative ways to “see” the world apart from theoretical cynicism, truly commit a disservice to the theoretical and ultimately practical position they purport to hold. They are leading us practically no-where!

Having taken on various leadership roles over the last 20 years or so in secular universities I have been keenly sensitive to progressives’ micro aggressions towards what could be termed a “minority” in secular spaces—namely professed Christians. As a result, and because of my own faith commitments as well as my disdain for any form of discrimination, I began to investigate the marginalization of oppressed Christian groups and came to a realization that on many levels it does exist. I asked myself various questions. Who controlled knowledge? What knowledge was allowed or not allowed to be spoken of in a so-called open-university environments? Having armed myself with secular philosophies, I started to read literature on the religious role of universities as they were historically constructed. I soon realized that there is a growing body of literature that indeed dissects the over secularization of the university (Baker, 2009; Poplin, 2014; Smith, 2010, 2014; Yancey, 2015) that has also led to the marginalization of particular faith based groups, in this case, Christians and their resultant Christ and God allegiances and commitments. Literature that talked personally and philosophically about ones relationship to their Christian faith for instance (Anderson, 1998; Kullberg, 2006; Monroe, 1996; Morris, 1994) clearly articulated the growing culture wars of our 21st century, at least in the secular university world.


XIV, 222
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2017 (September)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2017. XIV, 222 pp., 1 fig., 3 tables

Biographical notes

Barry Kanpol (Volume editor) Mary Poplin (Volume editor)

Barry Kanpol received his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. He is Dean of the College of Education at Grand Valley State University. He is known for his extensive work in critical pedagogy and now works to link critical theory to non-secular views in higher education. Mary Poplin received her Ph.D. from The University of Texas and is currently Professor of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University. Her work includes theoretical understandings of a range of academic world views as well as extensive work with highly effective teachers in low income schools. She has been a dean of education and a director of teacher education.


Title: Christianity and the Secular Border Patrol
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