PROVO, Utah (ABC4 News) – Differing opinions are part of the university experience, but having different world views landed several BYU professors on a blogosphere “blacklist.”
“If you are pro-LGBT community, you weren’t voting for Trump, or you were pro-social policy change in the church, you made the list,” said Adam Durfee, adjunct communications professor and runner of YDigital at BYU.
Durfee topped the list of “18 BYU Professors to Avoid” on an ultra-conservative Mormon blog called Righteous Dominion, because of his more liberal worldviews which he posts about on Twitter. It was unclear Wednesday who is behind the blog post, but the user’s screen name is Katumin.
In past blog posts, Katumin has criticized liberal movements within the church and the media for “exploiting” abuse victims to attack the church.
“My very first thought was, ‘Really, students don’t like me?'” said Durfee. “Once I opened it, I found out very quickly I was number one for all the right reasons.”
Durfee, a Latter-day Saint who is also pro-LGBTQ, anti-Trump and also wants social policy change in the church, said Wednesday that being on the list is a badge of honor.
“My goal is never to push my worldviews on to students, but simply to allow them to think and to feel and to learn and to try and make opinions on their own,” he said.
Some of his students say he’s a breath of fresh air at a university going through a major cultural shift right now, as evidenced by the debate over the school’s Honor Code and the advent of a more welcoming environment for LGBTQ students.
“I laughed…I thought it was really funny to see Adam on top of that list,” said BYU senior KC Miller.
“I think it’s important within the church culture within the BYU culture that we foster different opinions and understand why people believe the way we do and also question what you believe,” said senior Taryn Royall.
Student Lexie Flickinger said many of her LGBTQ friends at BYU feel more welcome because of the less conservative opinions of professors like Durfee.
Durfee says he and probably many of the “blacklisted” professors would tell people it’s okay that they don’t believe the same way as them – but invites keyboard warriors to open up a dialogue and not hide anonymously behind a screen.
“This is where we should be fostering different opinions,” said Durfee. “If people can’t agree that’s something that should be happening on a college campus, I definitely think we should be reconsidering what the purpose of a university of education is in the first place.”
The list of professors mostly included educators in the Humanities, Communications and History departments. ABC4 News has found factions of students, administrators, and alumni who do not agree with the recent push for changes in the school’s Honor Code of policies of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owns the university.