Editor’s note: Robert Sloan and Ted Cruz are both known as reformers. They attract passionate supporters as well as detractors. Sloan is president of Houston Baptist University and the former president and chancellor of Baylor University. Cruz is the junior U.S. senator from Texas. WORLD News Group Editor-in-Chief Marvin Olasky interviewed both men on the campus of Houston Baptist University as part of an ongoing series called The Olasky Interview.
When you look at American higher education and the role of religion and colleges and what kids are taught about it, what do you see? Good news? Bad news?
CRUZ: Listen, much of the academy has been captured by the far left. And there is this orthodox teaching that is secular in nature that teaches one particular worldview and that does not admit debate. You know, some years back, about a decade ago, I had the interesting experience of being invited to give an address at the University of California-Berkeley at their school of government. … And the entire theme of that commencement address was intellectual diversity, and the message was: If you ever hope actually to persuade someone on the other side, you’ve got to understand how someone of good morals can look at the exact same issue that you care so passionately about and come to the opposite conclusion. So often in the public debate, those on the other side are caricatured as either stupid or evil. You’re either too dumb to know the right answer, or, even worse, you know, you just want people to suffer. And the point I tried to say to the students is, listen, whether in law or business or politics or life, if you want to convince someone, you need to understand how your mother could look at the issue that you care most about [and] come to 180 degrees the opposite position, and then make an argument appealing to common values.
You’ve described the U.S. Senate dining hall, where some folks won’t eat lunch with you, as somewhat like the Mean Girls movie. … When you think about your very interesting 16 months so far, you’ve made a lot of enemies. Any of them unnecessary enemies?
CRUZ: Every senator there, Republican or Democrat—I’ve never spoken an ill word of any senator. I’ve never spoken to any senator with anything other than civility or respect. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to refrain from doing my job. The people I’m trying every day to listen to are the men and women who are here, the men and women who it’s my job to help provide a voice in Washington and help try to turn this country around.
[To Sloan] When you think back about your Baylor experience … you know, there are necessary enemies, there are unnecessary enemies.
SLOAN: Well, I’m certain there had to have been some unnecessary enemies because I’m a fallen creature, and I look back on any experience in life, and, I can assure you, I’ve made many mistakes. I think the main thing to do is do your best to acknowledge mistakes you made and go on. You know, we live in a post-Freudian age, which spends a lot of time on introspection and so on. I think, as Christians, we also need to have humility, a certain robust conscience. Yes, along the way, we are going to make unnecessary enemies, and it’s a shame we do. But, on the other hand, I don’t think you can live life with a kind of morbid self-introspection. We’re people of faith, not fear. We say: Here’s who we are. We’re Christian people. We believe that the truth is the truth; we ought to live by it and move forward with courage.
Listen to an extended version of this interview on The World and Everything in It: