Look at this chart: it purports to show the percentage of ‘born-again’ Christians who abandon their faith after attending various categories of colleges. My first thought was, “Good, now how can we get those numbers higher?”; I’m sure that most fundies feel what the author of the chart intended, absolute horror at the idea that sending kids to college is the equivalent of shipping them off to an eternity of hellfire.
But wait…the graph actually says nearly nothing at all about the state of secularism in our universities. It’s missing too much information, and it’s been selectively skewed. The first thing they did was start with a population of “born-again” Christians, and ask how many were still “born-again” when they graduated: that’s a number that can only go up. For all we know from these data, 5% of the students enter public universities as “born-agains”, a quarter of that cohort goes apostate (the only figure that is plotted), but another 95% of the godless freshmen become Southern Baptist seniors. That’s not likely, I know, but it means this chart can’t be used to make the argument that university educations convert people to freethinking secularists.
It’s a meaningless scare graph designed to finagle the data and worry people. I have to wonder about a religious organization (this is from Focus on the Family) that makes such an effort to convince the faithful that getting a higher education imperils their soul—it’s almost as if they want to keep their donors and supporters ignorant and stupid.
The article is also loaded with anecdotes, of course, all to support their contention that universities are hotbeds of sin and temptation. This was funny, in a gross and icky way:
[T]he modern university, having lost its moral convictions, has attached itself to relativistic doctrines such as tolerance and diversity, which mean, in practice, tolerance of anything but Biblical faith and traditional morality.
So, learning that some people think differently than you, and that you should let those people exist, is the same as learning to hate the Bible and its traditional morality. Isn’t that a sign that there’s something wrong with your religion when threats to your reality consist of a) learning that lesbians, for instance, exist, and that b) no, you don’t get to beat them up or deprive them of their civil rights? I say any religion that remote from reality is best abandoned, anyway.
I was wondering how my university was specifically causing this hypothetical and so far unsupported abandonment of religious principles, aside from just being unbiblically diverse and tolerant. It’s particularly appropriate to learn about our nefarious plans since freshman orientation starts next week.
“The trial everyone has heard about — but most people underrate — is the sheer spiritual disorientation of the modern campus,” wrote J. Budziszewski in a Focus on the Family magazine article.
“Methods of indoctrination are likely to include not only required courses, but also freshman orientation, speech codes, mandatory diversity training, dormitory policies, guidelines for registered student organizations and mental health counseling,” Budziszewski added.
Oh, no—required courses! We’ve got lots of those in biology, and it’s true that we do hammer on unbiblical evolution a lot. I’ve attended freshman orientation: they get speeches like, “Work hard, but don’t forget to enjoy extracurricular activities!” I guess that’s unbiblical, too. Dorm policies do things like proscribe food fights and set study hours where everyone is expected to be quiet—if God tells you to flick a spoonful of applesauce at the RA, or to crank up that Creed album at 11pm, I suppose it would be isolating you from the Divine. I’m not a fan of speech codes—they tend to be restrictive and channel people into rather narrow modes of expression—but they don’t afflict Christians at all, unless your idea of Christianity involves damning the aforementioned lesbians to hell.
Mental health counseling, though, I can see as dangerous to born-again Christians. It might make them sane.
The article makes much of this poor Christian student who gave an opening convocation that elicited many letters of protest. See if you can guess what is objectionable about his attitude.
“So in talking about that I couldn’t help but talk about Christ. … [and] living for Him and knowing what our purpose as humans is,” he explained. “[After all], what is the purpose of education, if not to use it for Him?”
At a university, he’s free to say that kind of thing, and he did. And people are free to disagree with him, and they did. That people complained about the stupidity of his position, though…definitely unbiblical. No wonder colleges scare fundies, if they’re places where someone can make the kind of fact-free, illogical, goofy assertion that they’re used to making every day in church, and some danged atheist or Jew or Muslim or Buddhist or other such heathenish hellbound pagan is going to disagree with them.