Forcing Secular Ideas on Christian Colleges

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by me again, Jan 11, 2002.

  1. irat

    irat New Member

    I agree that it will be unlikely for a government to stop an existing program which benefits a secular institution. The previous poster is absolutely right, the political fallout would be huge.
    Lines have been crossed in many places for years. A local catholic womans college (which just closed) has received numerous federal and state grants over the years. It had a "returning woman" program which was federally funded (for women returning to school after having children), a northeast consultation group funded by the state, and many others.
    Actually, one of the colleges past presidents was the Secretary of the Agency of Human Services for the State of VT.
    This is in a state where the state supreme court ruled in the 1950's that public school money cannot go to a private secular school.
    All the best!
  2. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    Originally, no. But that is a legal issue that must be taken on if Federal monies are accepted. Sexual orientation has recently become “Federal law,“ but it remains in conflict with the biblical precepts being taught at most Christian colleges.

    That’s a catch 22 because

    1. If religious schools accept Federal monies, then they subjects themselves to being in compliance with Federal laws e.g. sexual orientation.

    2. These Federal laws may be diametrically opposed to the biblical precepts that are held by the religious school e.g. sexual orientation.

    3. Some of these Federal laws are civil in nature (e.g. sexual orientation) and conflict with some states’ criminal laws (i.e. sodomy is a criminal offense in many states).

    So, by accepting Federal monies, the religious schools must comply with Federal laws that may be diametrically opposed to their religious teachings and which may be in conflict with the state’s criminal code.

    Their mission statement and their doctrinal position may be in conflict with Federal law. Which brings us back to the original catch 22: The Federal monies or the biblical precepts?


    In the end, it will probably boil down to that. I see no other alternative (if Federal monies are accepted, which come with “compliance strings”).
  3. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    You introduced the issue of homosexuality in your very first post. That's obvious to everyone. What's less obvious is whether you are just trolling the group or whether you have a real point.

    I still want to know what the beef is here. What is happening that you think is so dangerous to Christian colleges? So far, all I can see is smoke and no flames. Lots of posts complaining about something, but no explanation of what it is, exactly.

    I made a post about religious exemptions to state higher education licensing and approval laws. Nobody even replied to it, so apparently state regulations aren't the issue.

    I argued that no government agency or private accreditor has tried to dictate a sectarian college's theological position. As Steve pointed out, Maharishi Univerity is proof of that. As is Dallas Theological Seminary for that matter. That's apparently agreed.

    It was argued that preparing future clergy is a ministry, not a business. I replied by pointing out that "in-house" religious functions like preparing candidates for ordination and even granting specifically religious degrees like M.Div.s and Th.D.s is already constitutionally protected.

    I pointed out that conservative fundamentalist colleges are not being overrun with gays or infidels. Those schools are free to retain their doctrinal position and to continue teaching that every segment of the population they dislike is shit. Gays and infidels wouldn't even WANT to attend one of your schools. We may be sinners, but we aren't crazy.

    So what in the f**k is the problem???

    Are you suggesting that churches should be allowed to engage in any activity that they like with total immunity from the laws that govern the rest of us? If a church wants to grant M.D.s to faith healers and set up hospitals, are they immune from medical licensing laws? If they want to set up "Holy Phamaceuticals", are they immune from the food and drug laws? If they create "Heavenly Airlines", are they outside the jurisdiction of the FAA? Can church members kill in the name of God and be immune from murder charges?

    Churches are protected in the practice of their religion, not in every activity that they might imaginably engage in. That includes setting up higher educational institutions.

    If there are secular laws on the books that deviate from some religious sect's teachings about how the wider society is to be structured, then there are means at hand in a democracy for changing those laws.
  4. Gus Sainz

    Gus Sainz New Member

    Levicoff has left the building! [​IMG]
  5. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    I think it’s asinine of you to make such a suggestion (it’s even juvenile). It goes a little bit deeper than your asinine suggestion. [​IMG]

    This is another asinine statement. Did you miss your Wheaties this morning? [​IMG]

    The issue is the encroaching Federal control over Christian colleges, which occurs when Christian schools accept Federal monies. By accepting Federal monies, they subject themselves to Federal guidelines. The example used was ”sexual orientation” because it is against biblical precepts which, by the way, are usually espoused by Christian colleges. The penalty for non-compliance is the withdrawal of Federal funds which could cripple the school if the institution has become dependant on such monies.

    Your temper.

    I have respected your postings because you’ve made some excellent points….up until now. This type of verbiage and uncontrolled temperament (if that’s what it is) has no place in the world of academia. Do you exhibit this kind of verbiage in the classroom or is it reserved exclusively for the streets and for forums?


    Stay focused on the issues and quit the cursing and the insults. It’s uncalled for amongst ladies and gentlemen.
  6. Guest

    Guest Guest


    Such expletives to describe your inner feelings? Sounds like a DL degree in communication from a degree mill. [​IMG]
    Your perception of these schools as teaching that segments they dislike or disagree with are &%#@, is absurd. The vast majority of such schools may indeed disapprove of certain practices, but its really hilarious to think that they teach that those people are, well, %#$@.

    My posts were in reference to a Christian school/university/seminary retaining the freedom to propogate its doctrinal position, while at the same time meeting the qualifications for accredition and subsequent Federal funding. As Steve noted, Federal funding facilitates primarily the student, not the school.

    The original post addressed the issue of sexual orientation, and my observation was that a Christian school should have the freedom to qualify for RA/ATS, while at the same time retaining its doctrinal position. Nothing more, nothing less!

    If, for example, Dallas Theological Seminary's position on homosexuality is that the practice violates its doctrinal position, this should not affect the schools status in terms of qualifying for either RA/ATS or Federal funding.

  7. Tom Head

    Tom Head New Member

    A resounding "Ditto!" to Steve--and please, dude, write some more books if you find the time. Street Smarts is not only the last really good book I've read on religion and law, but it's the only really good book I've read on religion and law. There isn't anyone else out there doing The Steve Levicoff Thing, as far as I can tell, and I wish someone would.


    Tom Head

    co-author, Bears' Guide to the Best Education Degrees by Distance Learning (Ten Speed Press)
    co-author, Get Your IT Degree and Get Ahead (Osborne/McGraw-Hill)
  8. ROTFLMAO!!!!

    Very funny, Gus.

    (For those wondering what this is all about: After Elvis concerts, they would announce "Elvis has left the building." Meaning that the show is over, and you might as well go home because there ain't anything else interesting that's going to happen.)
  9. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    You should know, since you were completing your Ph.D. in sarcasm while I was there. Of course what I write expresses my ideas and feelings. That's why I make posts in the first place.

    What I want to express most forcefully is how vague and intangible this thread is. While it deftly manages to push all the hot buttons like religion, politics and homosexuality, it doesn't even start to explain what "forcing secular ideas on Christian colleges" really means. Which 'secular ideas' are being forced on which Christian colleges? How is that happening, exactly?

    Personally, I don't think that Christian colleges are under any particular threat, and I've said so repeatedly. Instead of somebody making a coherent post saying "here's what's happening, and here's how it threatens us as Christians", there's just more and more smoke.

    Well, if the presence of just one or two of these individuals on a college campus constitutes a clear danger to the school's Christian integrity and a challenge to the school's version of Christian doctrine, then call it whatever you want. But whatever word you choose, it will have to be perjorative.

    Admittedly, I think that this whole thing is being exaggerated shamelessly. Most evangelical Christians I know consider homosexuality to be a sin, but certainly not the only one. They say that sin isn't to be embraced, but sinners are.

    But then, I'm not the one that is claiming that Christian colleges are in danger of buckling under the tremendous threat of admitting a homosexual, am I?

    I'm just saying that if a college is so anti-gay as to fear contagion from a gay man walking across the quad, the school would already be so unwelcoming that few if any gays would ever apply there in the first place.

    So the whole issue is just rhetoric.
  10. Guest

    Guest Guest


    As to the Ph.D. in sarcasm, my daughter has for several years called me the "King of Sarcasm." But I was hoping no one would find out it was from a degree mill. Shame on you for telling. [​IMG]

    You are correct as to the lack of clarity regarding this post. My response was directed at the title of the thread, "Forcing Secular Ideas on Christian Colleges," and was specifically addressing the issue of accreditation. And my concern was that a school's accreditation should not be affected/jeapordized because of its particular theological position, whether it be a liberal Harvard, or a conservative Bob Jones. From your posts, I think we agree on this.


    PS, Now please! Settle back in that lazy boy and don't let your blood pressure get so high. We need you posting for many years to come. [​IMG]
  11. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    Sort of like your expletive degree-mill-like postings have been, huh? [​IMG] [​IMG]

    More pearls of wisdom from Bill Dayson? More like droppings……

    Mmmmmm, I must agree with the following:

    Gee whiz, instead of using invectives, why didn’t you just say this in the first place? [​IMG] [​IMG]
  12. levicoff

    levicoff Guest

    First, I would like to cordially suggest that everyone f*cking chill out. (Language is a powerful tool, isn't it?)

    Seriousy, guys, I think that what we're dealing with here is a cultural argument. As I recall, Me again lives is a law enforcement officer living in Florida, which is a somewhat evangelical state. Bill obviously comes from a more secular perspective, which is why the gay issue is not such a preoccupation to him. In short, what we are bouncing off is our cultural presuppositions here - no more, no less. And I applaud that - it is indicative of this forum's diversity.

    That said, I agree that the gay issue is not key since, as I wrote previously, sexual identity is not a protected class issue. A more classical issue regarding government-protected class would be gender or race.

    And those issues have been well settled over the years. Catholic seminaries are not required to admit women to programs that prepare one for the priesthood, yet their accreditation is not threatened. If anything, we have seen more compromise on the patr of some evangelical schools. (I already brought up the Westminster controversy. Another example would be Biblical Theological Seminary, an RA/ATS school at which I taught for six years. BTS has several tracks to their Master of Divinity program, the one that trains pastors. Women may enroll in the New Testament track or the Counseling track, but not the Pastoral track. The only difference is that the non-pastoral track programs do not require coursework in homiletics, or preaching.)

    (And for what it's worth, I consider both positions a compromise. Hell, I would rather see such schools stick to their philosophical guns even though I may not agree with them.)

    Again, we are striking a balance between governmental endorsement of religion and government accommodation of free exercise. I find the policies as they exist to be perfectly consistent with constitutional law. Just as, even though I am gay, I find the right of Fundie schools to discriminate against gays or a seminary to discriminate against women quite consistent with constitutional law. It may not be popular, but that is the nature of religion - every faith system is convinced that it is right and that the others are wrong.

    One interesting thing that I have observed, incidentally, is that as a general rule, conservatives are far more tolerant than liberals. (And yes, I'm obviously liberal.) Nat Hentoff, the respected jazz columnist for the Village Voice, comments extensively on this in his brilliant book Free Speech For Me, But Not For Thee. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to address a Fundie church, a Catholic peace community, and a lesbian feminist community in the same day; I found the Fundies to be way ahead of the others in the area of tolerance. (Keep in mind, of course, that tolerance and acceptance are two different things. But the key issue regarding religion, at least in terms of different doctrines, is tolerance, not acceptance.)

    As some readers may recall, when I wrote my book on TRACS a few years ago, I suggested that TRACS should not be approved by the U.S. Dept. of Education because they favored one school of religious thinking over another (namely, the doctrine of creation in six literal days). Using the same argument, however, one could easily argue against the recognition of AABC and the Association of Talmudic Schools, both of which are also approved by DoEd. (ATS is more generic than the others and does not have a doctrinal test, although their schools lean toward Christianty in one form or another.) Again, however, we run into the same argument: Is DoEd approval an endorsement, or an accommodation that would result in discrimination if denied?

    I suggest to everyone that what we are discussing is a very emotional topic - subjective in nature, just as religion is usually subjective in nature. (I would also cordially remind everyone that is not a vehicle for evangelism, and that we will continue to disagree on these issues. So we may as well disagree agreeably. Sorry, make that f*cking agreeably.) In short, the precedent has been set: Pervasively doctrinal schools are accredited, and pervasively doctrinal accreditors are approved. So those who have a problem with that notion may as well chill out, recognizing that those heretical heathens will continue to do their thing regardless of the level of fervent prayer and evangelism in which they engage.

    And you wonder why I don't take my own field of church-state issues seriously? [​IMG]

    Postscript, for what it's worth . . .

    I was privileged to have as one of my adjuncts at Union one of the most well known conservative, right-wing Fundie lawyer/theologians in the country. The dude has represented - hell, even been a member of - the John Birch Society, and is so far to the right that he would make Bob Jones look liberal, let alone Jerry Falwell. And he continues to have my respect and admiration based on his brilliant scholarship and the fact that he's a nice guy. (Proving once again the fact that not all Fundies have their heads up their butts, any more than all liberals do.)

    Anyway, a few years ago, he wrote a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court about the right of an Arkansas public school to invite outside persons in from a local church to tell Bible stories to the children during school hours. It was obviously a losing cause, one in which he did not stand a snowball's chance in hell of winning. (And it was kind of fun when he popped an impromptu verbal quiz on me to see if I knew the precedents that dictated the ultimate ruling. Especially since I did. [​IMG])

    When I asked him why he was pursuing what was obviously a losing case, he replied quite simply, "So they'll know we're there."

    And that makes perfect sense. In fact, it's the same response I received when I have interviewed anti-abortion, anti-nuclear power, and anti-war activists. Sometimes we fight what we know is a losing issue just to make a point, educate and inform, and maybe even convert someone's mind along the way.

    So take the debate of Dayson v. Me Again with a grain of salt and treat it as an educational experience. Hell, if it wasn't for them, you wouldn't have heard from me. [​IMG]
  13. Andy Borchers

    Andy Borchers New Member

    I've had the good fortune to teach at two different Christian colleges over the years. Both are RA and both have accepted Federal dollars. As I see it there are a couple of points that haven't come out yet:

    1. Christian Colleges have a built in conflict - to be a "college" suggest an openness to new ideas. To be a "Christian", at least as I see it in my rather fundamental way, is to accept scripture as God breathed and absolute. Balancing these two terms is a challenge.

    2. Christians are obligated to submit to civil authority on all points that don't contradict our faith. Hence, if the fire marshall says "you have to have a door here ... and a fire suppression system there", Christians ought to comply without question. The only rub comes when government tells us that we have to contradict what we believe scripture teaches. Fortunately, at least some of the Federal code includes statements like "no discrimination ... except were necessitated by the beliefs of the governing body." Hence, were I've taught women aren't allowed to taking classes in preaching. In hiring, Federal law allows for colleges to favor people who are "co-religionists". This is the politically correct to say "folks that believe like I do!". Hence, colleges can say - if you want to teach here you must be an active Christian in the xxx church.

    So, as far as I can see things now - Christian Colleges can co-exist with civil government - at least for now. I'm concerned that government may step in - but so far, I don't see it.

    Regards - Andy

    Andy Borchers, DBA
    NSU (1996)
  14. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    levicoff is back in the building. [​IMG]

    The following is not in reference to levicoff:
    Some cowards become brave when they sit behind a keyboard. They say things from the safety of their keyboard which they would never say directly to a person’s face. It is reminiscent of "beer muscles."

    For those of you that don't know:

    I’ve been to so many fights where the ”victim” is drunk and beat-up with a black eye and cuts and abrasions. Due to their “beer muscles,“ they just didn’t know when to shut up and they say the wrong thing to the wrong person and then bam, that ”wrong person” gives them something that Ajax won’t take out.

    The internet provides these folks with a newer and safer platform. [​IMG]

    When people resort to:
    -- playground-level tirades and
    -- insulting other people and
    -- cursing:
    It is a demonstration of helplessness and ”keyboard bravery.” [​IMG]

    Fortunately, these tactics are not used by true academics.
  15. WalterRogers

    WalterRogers member

    1) I think it is a bit hypocritical when Christian colleges say... "we can't follow federal laws but we will gladly take federal money". However, I am not personally bothered.

    2) A greater issue is one Andy notes. I am in the camp which believes that a BA actually has a fairly specific meaning (i.e. it has actual academic standards/meaning associated with it). Part of this meaning includes the open study/examination of new ideas. This is not contrary to the Christian faith (for there are Christian schools that promote this) but it is contrary to some Christian schools (of certain sects). IMO it is a travesty that these schools are accredited... but again, in the world of the 4 week BA, the University of Pheonix and the Maharishi University of Management... what does accreditation mean.

  16. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Perhaps to some small extent. I live in the bay area and have many gay friends. But I should point out that I have worked in law enforcement myself, that I'm a registered Republican, and that I voted for G.W. Bush in the last election. So please don't type-cast me.

    If you recall, I have not been attacking fundamentalist Christians or their colleges and seminaries. I have never criticized their theological doctrines.

    My purpose here has been to explore the ostensible topic of the thread: "Forcing Secular Ideas on Christian Colleges". I have asked repeatedly for clarification of what that is meant by that. I have also said repeatedly that I didn't think that Christian colleges are under any real threat and, in fact, that the law and the accreditors bend over backwards to accomodate them. I have no problem with that either, and only mention it because it contradicts the thesis of the thread.

    I have asked repeatedly for examples of how "secular laws" threaten the religious integrity of Christian schools. The only issue that has ever been raised, present from the very first post, was something vaguely to do with homosexuals. Actually, I think it's largely a red herring, but since it's all we've got, I'll go with it.

    I'm still trying to find out what this great secular threat to Christian schools is supposed to be, and where it is supposed to be coming from.

    I certainly agree with you regarding seminaries' programs leading to ordination. I can more reluctantly follow you with regard to purely religious degree programs like M.Div.s, D.Min.s and Th.D.s. These are the kind of programs that receive state religious exemptions.

    But I am less inclined to follow you into the realm of general universities that just happen to be owned by a church. Schools like Georgetown that offer standard academic degrees in secular subjects. This is the issue I tried to raise with Russell in a previous post about the sometimes hazy difference between a ministry and a university.

    Must Constitutional accomodation of free exercise extend into every activity that a church engages in? After all, the term 'ministry' is so elastic that it can apply to all aspects of life. What if a church started "Heavenly Airlines" and claimed immunity from FAA regulations?

    So where does the "Forcing Secular Ideas on Christian Colleges" come from??

    Pervasively sectarian schools can already opt out of the whole government approval process if they want to, with state religious exemptions. They can use their own sectarian accreditors like AABC and TRACS. Regional accreditors make no attempt to control a religious school's theology as Maharishi University and Dallas Theological Seminary, both RA, attest. The idea of WASC requiring Augustinianism is ridiculous... but does TRACS *really* demand a literal 6-day creation? Frankly, I can't see where seminaries have any grounds for complaint.

    So if there are any substantive complaints here, don't they concern secular programs offered by general church run universities? The possibility that various federal grant programs *may* have some kind of non-descrimination clause or something? I can imagine that the National Science Foundation might have such a condition on grants it extends to physics research.

    But I'm just speculating, since although this thread is 30 posts long, nobody has yet defined what it's really about.

    I'll just say that as religious schools extend themselves out from a purely religious mission into the secular everyday world, they are probably deserving of progressively less special accomodation. If some of their interactions with the wider society carry conditions that they don't like, it's their choice whether to isolate themselves or participate in society.

    That's a problem that has faced sectarian religious groups throughout their history, isn't it?

    There has been absolutely no debate between "Me Again" and myself, Steve. The guy has consistently refused to respond to me except with flames.

    I'm confident that you can do better.
  17. Guest

    Guest Guest


    Anybody who is a registered Republican and voted for GWB can't be too bad, now we have two things in common--what was just stated and DL. [​IMG]

    Seriously, my posts to you have not been intended as inflamatory. I taught for 3 1/2 years at a RA Bible college, and never knew of SACS trying to influence the doctrinal position of the school.

    No, "Heavenly Airlines" should not be exempt from FAA regulations. If a church owned university offers MA's or Ph.D.'s in say math, then yes, the school should follow RA guidelines. My only distinction would be if a given school was being forced to violate its doctrinal position, or embrace practices which it deemed to violate Christian ethics.

  18. me again

    me again Well-Known Member


    I presume that the word ”flames” means ”insults.”

    All I did was to comment on your usage of guttural invectives (Albeit, I commented profusely). However, I’ve been as nice as I can possibly be and, if you review this thread, you will not find any ungentlemanly comments from me.

    Your cursing caught me by surprise because I didn‘t expect to get the words “f*ck“ and “sh*t“ in a public forum from someone who is interested in academics. Don’t get me wrong: In my job, I’m used to fisticuffs and invectives, but it comes from a certain class of people. I place academics on a pedestal and, thus, have higher expectations of those who express an interest in this field.

    I want only what is best for your personal enrichment (and growth) and maybe we can let bygones be bygones.

    I’m a cop, but it doesn’t make me a bad person. [​IMG]
  19. levicoff

    levicoff Guest

    Hmmmmmmm . . . I'm beginning to think that we have more cops (and ex-cops) around here than theologians. [​IMG]

    Anyway, Levicoff is once again leaving the building. In good hands, I'm sure.
  20. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    You'll be baaack. They all come back! [​IMG]

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