On the campuses of many of the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities, there is a new emphasis on the use of “politically correct language.” Faculty, administration and student officials are insisting that persons on their campuses not be guilty of any of a variety of verbal or attitudinal sins, including:
– Heterosexism — expressing and/or believing that a homosexual lifestyle is not a completely legitimate and appropriate choice.
– Ableism — any bias against the “differently abled” (formerly identified as handicapped or disabled, but use of either term today is a blatant example of ableism). Including stairs in a building is an example of ableist architecture.
– Ageism — prejudice against the aged by the temporarily non-aged.
– Specieism — the attitude that your species (i.e., humans) is in some way more valuable than any other species (i.e., cockroaches). Thus, placement of a roach motel in your home would be a violent implementation of your specieism.
– Lookism — the attitude that some people are better looking than others.
– Sizeism — bias against the differently sized. For example, those frequent articles on dieting are vicious illustrations of sizeism at work.
– Laughism — “inappropriately directed laughter” is now on the list of “isms” banned at the University of Connecticut (U.S. News & World Report, March 4, 1991).
Assuming that movements that take place on our college campuses are simply the vanguard of broader societal movements to come, it seems inevitable that such emphases will soon make their way into the pulpits of America. So that you can be on the lookout for such attitudinal irregularities, feel free to post the following checklist on your church bulletin board.
– Preachism — the view that one person (worse yet, often a straight, white male) has the right to claim the attention of other persons for 20-40 minutes every Sunday morning.
– Sinism — prejudice against certain actions (like lying, cheating, stealing); frequently practiced by preachists (see above).
– Dozeism — bias against those who claim their constitutional right to sleep while some preachist is demonstrating sinism.
– Deaconism (also known as Elderism, Boardism) — negative attitudes toward those who stand in the church parking lot and smoke while deciding the fate of the local preachist. This isn’t a terribly politically incorrect attitude since it is directed primarily at straight, white males.
— Mikeism — prejudice that allows a preachist to have a microphone while others in a congregation are denied equal rights to amplification. A politically correct congregation will give everyone a microphone — except, of course, the preachist (who is probably a straight, white male anyway, so who needs him).
– Sensitivism — attitude that most of these “isms” are overwrought, foolish, and get in the way of authentic communication.
OK, so I’m a convicted sensitivist. Just be careful what you say — it’s bound to violate something.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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