Essay / Culture

Know Your Christian College – Hannity & Colmes – Guests and Topics: May 17: “President Bush is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at Calvin College (search), a Christian liberal-arts institution, in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Saturday. So why is a third of the faculty there taking out an ad to protest the president’s visit? It’s a ‘Hannity & Colmes’ exclusive when we talk with two Calvin College professors: Ruth Groenhut and Randall Jelk.”Why are one third protesting?The simple answer is because many, if not most, evangelical academics are out of touch with mainstream evangelical thought in America.This is particularly true of younger evangelical academics. The naive media notion about schools like Calvin is funny, especially since it drives the faculty crazy at such places. They are horrified to be thought Bush-voters and yet cannot escape the stereotypes of their lefty friends who can only remember they exist (as leftists) when they are needed in court cases to put down creationists.Many, if not most, evangelical academics are more upset about Left Behind than they are the rise of “gay rights.” Do you doubt this? Go read faculty writings at Christian colleges on this issue. Take some time with google and the a good library.No parent should want (I think) a university with only one point of view. Every Evangelical has a right to think that an Evangelical school will be staffed with people who (broadly) share their world view and roughly mirror the opinions of the pew sitters they claim to serve.Parents who believe that they are choosing a Christian college because their point of view will be fairly represented need to google their son’s or daughter’s potential professors. They already know their conservative Christian worldview does not get a fair shake in the mainstream academy (when it is even discussed). Will the Christian college do better? The internet allows you, as parent, to see the real point of view that an alum magazine or brochures might want to hide.A good google will show that (shock!) I am traditional Christian who voted for Bush. It will show that most people in the Biola zip code did the same. It will also show that a substantial minority of Biola students and faculty (some good friends) did not vote for Bush and do not support “the religious right.” That is good. I think the school reflects fairly reasonably the diversity of opinion that is found in the pews of the sort of churches Biola was created to serve. It is good for students from both points of view to “rub shoulders” with those from the other camp.However, one would anticipate that if a faculty wanted to serve a community, then it would love that community and roughly mirror its values. If not, then it should state that openly and try to convince the folks who want to send their kids to it that this a good thing. What it should not do is recruit right and teach left.Diversity of thought on areas where Christians disagree is wonderful. In fact, if some Christian colleges want to cater to the twenty percent of Evangelicals who voted for John Kerry, then that is their right. If they wish to be to have political dialogue dominated by the left on campus, then that also is their right.However, it is not acceptable when parents think they are getting one thing (due to campus advertising) and are really getting another. It is not fine when business leaders are talked into giving money to support programs with leaders who hate the free market system that made the money. (Want an example? Calvin College has a scholar’s program run by a person who has written about his antipathy to capitalism. Check out the speaker’s list and see if you think it reflects the mainstream of evangelical opinion as manifested in the last election or whether it seems more concerned about the good opinion of academic friends at the University of Michigan.How many Reformed business leaders know that there money ends up supporting such folk? Everyone has a right to any scholarly opinion they want to hold in our culture, but we don’t have to pay for it. We also don’t have to pay extra to have our sons and daughters get told roughly what they would be told at a secular school.Shop carefully for a college and at least know what you are getting. Good shopping is nobody’s foe.

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