Righting America

A forum for scholarly conversation about Christianity, culture, and politics in the US
Science and Cedarville: A Review of RightingAmerica in 2020 | Righting America

The last year marked a number of milestones for RightingAmerica.net! In addition to celebrating our fourth year of blogging, we welcomed 8 new contributing writers to our site, surpassed 192,000 page views, and reached our highest number of visitors ever in June – 8,523 unique visitors in that month alone!

And what were people reading about on the RightingAmerica blog in 2020? Two words: Science and Cedarville. As we look back on the most frequently read posts of 2020, it is clear that the Cedarville University scandal remained the most significant topic of interest among our readers. 

Below are the top 10 most frequented posts on the RightingAmerica blog from 2020:

10. Confronting the Progressive Obsession with Fundamentalism by Frederick Schmidt (March 31, 2020). 

In a year defined by a global pandemic, it seems natural for readers to be asking questions about the relationship between faith and science. Frederick Schmidt’s post reminds readers that prescribing fundamentalist views to all Christians ignores the historical fact that many scientists (Bacon, Galileo, and Mendel, to name a few) were devout Christians. Consequently, Schmidt warns, Progressive Christians limit their own range of theological options when they use fundamentalism as the litmus test by which they measure their own “progressive” views of science. 

9. Anti-Vaxxers and Answers in Genesis by William Trollinger and Susan Trollinger (September 15, 2020). 

Continuing the conversation on science and fundamentalism, this post examines AiG’s vitriolic response, led by Georgia Purdom and Heidi St. John, to the BioLogos “Christian Statement on Science for Pandemic Times.” Purdom and St. John suggest that vaccination efforts are not only heretical, but that Christians should reject COVID public health campaigns as sly efforts to inject evolutionary biological ideas into Christian schools, homes and churches. Given this rejection of scientific fact, is it any wonder that so many evangelicals are caught up in QAnon conspiracy theories?

8. A Whitewashing at Cedarville (Even While the Stories Keep Multiplying) by William Trollinger (June 30, 2020). 

In a rather unfathomable turn of events, despite all evidence that Cedarville President Thomas White knowingly hired and supported Anthony Moore while suppressing untold instances of sexual assault and abuses of power on campus, the CU Board of Trustees voted to reinstate White as university president. The decision was not unanimous, and two Board members resigned in protest. Hearing the stories of victims and witnesses of abuse at Cedarville (including those in posts listed below), it is difficult to understand how White’s reinstatement affords him any credibility to protect students, let alone to enforce Title IX requirements. 

7. Cedarville Faculty Compile Resources for New and Incoming Students (June 23, 2020). 

In response to the ongoing investigations at Cedarville University surrounding President Thomas White’s hiring of known sexual predator Anthony Moore, anonymous faculty at CU compiled and shared resources with us to assist students who may have been victims of abuse while attending Cedarville or who may be preparing to attend the university for the first time. The resources remain available on our site.

6. The Scandal Deepens at Cedarville University by William Trollinger (June 5, 2020).

As part of the Cedarville scandal surrounding Anthony Moore, University President Thomas White is placed on administrative leave – sort of. Loren Reno, White’s special advisor with a long history of academic censorship, is appointed interim president. Reno’s appointment does little to satisfy concerns that the administration is taking the investigation seriously, as it is very likely that Reno knew of Moore’s past sexual predation. Instead of administrative retribution, Reno’s appointment looks more like a cover-up.

5. A Pastor’s Resignation and a Former Student’s Story: More on the Wreckage Wrought by the Fundamentalist Takeover of Cedarville by William Trollinger (June 16, 2020).

While Thomas White remains Cedarville University’s President, local Grace Baptist Church pastor Craig Miller resigned over his role in White’s “restoration” program for sexual predator Anthony Moore. Concealing Moore’s history of sexual predation to his congregation, Miller invited Moore to preach at Grace Baptist and interact with local youth. It remains unclear why a pastor unaffiliated with Cedarville would lose a position while the university president remains in his role; however, CU alumnus Jonathan Demers describes how the university has changed since White’s appointment as president, quickly becoming a vanguard for conservative evangelical politics. 

4. “A Culture of Silencing, Denial, and Psychological Manipulation”: The Stories from Cedarville University Just Keep Piling Up by William Trollinger, Ashley Moore, Samuel Franklin, Ariana Cheng, and Phil Jarvis (June 9, 2020)

In the wake of allegations that Cedarville University President Thomas White knowingly hired – and quickly promoted – sexual predator Anthony Moore, numerous CU alumni began to speak up about the toxic culture that White brought to the university upon his 2013 presidential appointment. From ignoring Title IX complaints to suppressing victims of sexual assault to prevent reports of campus sexual violence, and faculty members’ overt sexism toward women students, the painful stories of CU alumni show that White’s treatment of Moore was not an anomaly. In fact, it was part of a larger pattern of violence at Cedarville. 

3. Rape, Sexual Harassment, and More: The Cedarville Stories are Multiplying by William Trollinger (May 5, 2020).

As news of the Cedarville University scandal broke, the university hired public relations “guru” Mark DeMoss – who has a long history of restoring evangelical “brands” (Willow Creek Community Church, Franklin Graham, Mark Driscoll) from crises involving sexual assault. With emerging stories from students and faculty alike of sexual assault and harassment being dismissed by White, the school initiated an independent investigation concerning White’s hiring of Anthony Moore. At the same time, a rape victim at Thomas White’s former institution, the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (NC), came forward to note that White discouraged her from reporting her rape to the police and subsequently imposed a “disciplinary plan” for her doing so. 

2. No Safeguard, No Whole: Why I Left Cedarville University by Julie L. Moore (May 12, 2020)

Julie Moore, a Cedarville alumna and former faculty member of 18 years, describes her undergraduate experience and subsequent teaching career at CU leading up to White’s arrival at CU. In explaining her decision to leave, Moore notes that the Biblically Consistent Curriculum Policy serves the administration as a wide-ranging censorship policy: 

In fact, despite the policy’s claim that it is “not designed to restrict the free discussion of ideologies, philosophies, or schools of thought that may or may not run counter to biblical truth,” the reality is, administrators have, indeed, used it to censor many ideologies, such as literary theories, books by Shane Claiborne, and even non-Republican political views. (A student Democratic organization used to exist on campus, but it’s long gone now.)

…How can there be true education without such encounters and juxtapositions? Truth is strong, not weak, and God is big enough to handle the challenge. 

And what of multiple truths existing simultaneously—paradoxes, those apparent contradictions inherent in any Christian faith? 

1. “Biblically Consistent” Cedarville University Knowingly Hires and Then (Three Years Later) Fires Sexual Abuser by William Trollinger (April 28, 2020)

Breaking the story of the Cedarville University scandal for the RightingAmerica blog, our most popular post of 2020 details the history of the CU “purge” in 2012 to set the story for the ongoing set of posts reporting on Thomas White’s hiring of known sexual predator Anthony Moore. This post shares how White claimed that Moore’s hiring was an attempt at “transparent restoration” to return Moore to ministry, yet White never disclosed to students or parents Moore’s history of sexual predation. White claimed that new information about Moore’s history of sexual predation led to his April 2020 decision to fire Moore. That new information: in his previous position as campus pastor at The Village Church in Fort Worth, TX, Moore had secretly videotaped a youth pastor showering on not two, but five occasions. Apparently two videotapes is okay, but five is too many? President White’s explanation just didn’t add up.

Like the effects of COVID anti-vaxxers, the fallout of the Cedarville University scandal remains to be seen. However, if the first two weeks of 2021 is any indication, our county is experiencing a moment of reckoning – one in which leaders are now being held accountable for their actions. Will AiG’s anti-scientific figureheads, or Cedarville’s President White, maintain their authority as conservatives lose the power they have held for the last four years? This year may bring some new answers. 

Regardless, we are especially grateful to our readers and contributors, and we are excited to plan our 5-year milestone in 2021!