Last Friday the SMU Daily Campus ran an insightful piece by the Rev. William Finnin, the University’s chaplain. Entitled “The Other Institute Interested in SMU,” the opinion piece focuses on the Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD), tracing its history and close ties to the Bush administration. Finnin closes with a guarded call for SMU community members to think about what greater interest and involvement by organizations such as the IRD might portend for the university:
Like as not, IRD will join other groups of greater visibility on the periphery of the academy if and when Bush’s Library complex comes to campus. According to The Dallas Morning News, IRD is quite interested in seeing the university’s currently-extended invitation formalized, despite Mr. Tooley’s disclaimer. IRD’s self-insertion into the conversations currently underway at SMU portends much broader interest by similar institutes likely to cluster around Bush’s Institute for Democracy wherever it is located. Irrespective of the kind of welcome IRD finds on campus, it’s certain they’ll be watching us and taking notes. It might be wise to sharpen our understanding of academic, intellectual and political freedom as well as the relevance of SMU’s United Methodist Heritage while keeping our own eyes open and alert.