fbpx

Assessing the Faith-Friendly Colleges

The thesis of John Schmalzbauer and Kathleen A. Mahoney’s new book is that, rather than lamenting a narrative of declension, we should be celebrating the resilience of religion in American higher education. However bad things were for religion on campus some time ago, they’re getting better. There’s more academic attention to the study and teaching of religion, more institutional attention to religious identity and denominational relations, and more at least “spiritual” activity in student life.

So the authors argue in an exhaustively documented book (almost a third of which, roughly 95 pages, offers 794 footnotes) that carries dust jacket blurbs from some of the biggest names in the religion-and-higher-ed field.

If I simply endorsed the views of two great American Presidents—Thomas Jefferson and Dwight Eisenhower—I might be right there with the authors and the authorities, celebrating the conclusions reached in The Resilience of Religion in American Higher Education. The Jefferson who asserted that “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say that there are twenty gods, or no God; it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg” would be on board with its message. After reading the book, he might conclude, as he did in 1781, that “religion is well supported; of various kinds, indeed, but all good enough; all sufficient to preserve peace and order.” The Eisenhower who said, “our government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don’t care what it is” might also have joined this bandwagon. 

To be sure, both men are a little more demanding than I have just indicated, given that the former famously asked if “the liberties of a nation [can] be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God”;  and the latter did concede that, whatever religion Americans chose to believe in, it had to affirm that all men are created equal. In other words, these two leading Americans held, as many Americans do, that religion can and should play a civically salutary role. According to Schmalzbauer and Mahoney, there is evidence that the resilient religion they describe in fact plays that role, “fostering religious literacy and engaging diversity.” 

Still, I have my doubts as to whether these aims are sufficiently robust to provide a solid ground for our democratic republic. Of course, I would rather that the people occupying the cultural, political, and economic heights know something about religion. But how much that knowledge  informs their character and conviction remains an open question, especially when our authors cite Nathan Hatch, an authority at least as prominent as the suppliers of their blurbs, concerning “the relativism of the modern university.”

I also do not want to minimize the importance of diversity in a country for which the moniker “post-Christian” is an increasingly apt description. How we most effectively and productively uphold diversity is a very difficult question, regarding which our authors, with their cursory discussion (it makes little mention of the hostility that Jewish students encounter on numerous campuses, and skims the surface of the controversy regarding so-called “all-comers” policies regarding student-run organizations) offer precious little guidance. I would love to say that their copious footnotes provide helpful signposts for further study but, at least with regard to this issue, that isn’t really the case.

The real question, it seems to me, is the degree to which the openness to religious pluralism that our authors praise (assuming, arguendo, that contemporary campus intellectual and social life actually cultivates it) is consistent with morally, theologically, and intellectually thoughtful religious faith. Schmalzbauer and Mahoney want to reassure us in this regard, offering some evidence, for example, that evangelical college attendees are more likely than their non-college counterparts to remain engaged with the church. Other observers (among them, Charles Murray in his 2013 book Coming Apart) make a similar argument, showing that all the institutions of civil society (including churches) are healthier in affluent, educated communities than they are in lower income areas. 

Nonetheless, there are complicating circumstances that make me less sanguine. 

In the first place, the evidence regarding evangelical college attendees seems not to be fine-grained enough to tell us which sort of pipeline through college and back to church produces this promising result. Does it depend on attending a faith-friendly college, like Calvin, Wheaton, or Baylor? Does it depend on being involved in a particular kind of student religious group at an otherwise secular university? In other words, does religious affiliation persist because of or in spite of what happens in college? From the lofty perspective Schmalzbauer and Mahoney offer us, we can’t tell.

A second problematizing consideration involves another bit of data they report:

Researchers have . . . uncovered a positive correlation between higher education and religious liberalism. College-educated Americans tend to switch to mainline denominations and hold more liberal views of the Bible. Yet liberalization is not the same as secularization.

How this jibes with the previous observation is unclear. We were initially given the impression that evangelicals who go to college are more likely to remain evangelicals than those who don’t.  Now, we’re permitted to surmise that evangelicals who go to college may come away from the experience churched but no longer evangelical. The (mostly college-educated) folks who attend church with me on Sundays wouldn’t be particularly happy if that were the case.

What’s more, Schmalzbauer and Mahoney unsurprisingly affirm in a variety of ways that a major factor in the decline narrative they contest is the indisputable collapse of mainline Protestantism, in society at large and in its institutional and organizational presence in higher education. Liberalization might not be the same as secularization, but it seems to be a giant step in its direction.  

In other words, part of their response to the story of decline is that it could be proceeding by a slow and tortuous path. Again, if so, it would be cold comfort for those who lament the decline.

In sum, we remain entitled to wonder whether a campus where professors study religion as historians and sociologists; where there’s concern on the part of those charged with marketing the college that embracing or reaffirming a denominational brand might be perilous for enrollment or fundraising; and where more or less theologically orthodox student organizations may or may not be permitted to compete on a level playing field, is a campus that’s more fertile ground for Ross Douthat’s “bad religion” than for a “resilient” tradition. The authors leave me unconvinced that the religion that persists in this environment is one worth believing in.

I could end this review here; on reflection, though, I don’t think I’ve fully done justice to the book. Despite my reservations, it does its readers a significant service, beginning with the reminder that many American colleges were founded by religious people who aimed to promote their beliefs by educating generations of faithful preachers, professionals, and laypeople. The American denominational college was meant to conserve, develop, and hand down a tradition, one that was supposed to influence and inform the culture in which it was situated.  

Our authors also argue that the secularization of our colleges was less the result of impersonal social forces and more the consequence of an intentional effort on the part of people who devoted substantial resources to achieving their goal. They show, in other words, that secularization is not an inevitable process, but a project.  

We learn from this book that the revival of religion on campus also depended upon people with resources—several foundations (Pew, Danforth, Templeton, and Lilly) receive prominent mention in this regard. If secularization is a project, so is the revival of religion on campus. This is good news, if not necessarily for American higher education as a whole (for the reasons I’ve given), then certainly for particular institutions that are loved and supported by men and women of faith and means.

Schmalzberger and Mahoney offer us another valuable reminder: Whatever may be true of Western Europe and North America, in much of the world religious faith is thriving. What’s more, many of those who live their faith at home in Asia and Africa come to America as immigrants and students. Because (as I do not doubt) our colleges and universities wish to serve their “market,” it is inevitable that my colleagues and the administrators who preside over our institutions will come face to face with genuine religious diversity. While they might be tempted to tame that diversity by filtering everything through a pseudo-Rawlsian concept of “public reason,” I have some confidence that our brothers and sisters from across the world will resist that. There will undoubtedly be some uncomfortable times and conversations, but a genuine religious pluralism holds out the prospect of compelling us all to inquire into what we truly believe.

And then we’ll understand the real connection between religion and higher education.

Reader Discussion

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.

on August 21, 2019 at 09:54:17 am

In Ross Douthat's book, "Bad Religion" is anything that is not Catholic. In other words, bad religion is Protestantism. And many, if not most, of small religious colleges were founded by Protestants. And Catholicism is not pluralistic, unless catholicism means joining the Catholic big tent. So I'm not sure where this article leads to.

read full comment
Image of Wayne Lusvardi
Wayne Lusvardi
on August 21, 2019 at 11:18:44 am

"Researchers have . . . uncovered a positive correlation between higher education and religious liberalism. College-educated Americans tend to switch to mainline denominations and hold more liberal views of the Bible. Yet liberalization is not the same as secularization."

How this jibes with the previous observation is unclear. We were initially given the impression that evangelicals who go to college are more likely to remain evangelicals than those who don’t. Now, we’re permitted to surmise that evangelicals who go to college may come away from the experience churched but no longer evangelical.

I wonder if members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and practitioners of evangelical Episcopalianism would agree. Perhaps this essay would benefit if Knippenberg defined how he is using the terms "liberal" and "evangelical" to demonstrate how the concepts conflict.

read full comment
Image of nobody.really
nobody.really
on August 21, 2019 at 11:30:08 am

[The book] skims the surface of the controversy regarding so-called “all-comers” policies regarding student-run organizations....

* * *

[W]e remain entitled to wonder whether ... more or less theologically orthodox student organizations may or may not be permitted to compete on a level playing field....

Perhaps I'm not following the reference. I thought the point of "all-comers" policies was to ensure uniform policies for all student groups financed by student fees--the so-called "level playing field."

read full comment
Image of nobody.really
nobody.really
on August 21, 2019 at 11:52:20 am

All-comers policies require recognized student groups to accept any and all students, not just as members, but as leaders. A group cannot require its leaders to adhere to a faith and conduct statement, in other words. A group of morally and theologically traditional Christians cannot require that its leaders be morally and theologically orthodox Christians. Every group has to be internally diverse, which means that the range of groups recognized by a college or university is actually quite limited, i.e., not diverse.

read full comment
Image of Joseph Knippenberg
Joseph Knippenberg
on August 21, 2019 at 12:53:42 pm

1. Yup. And if all student groups must abide by the same policy, than that's a level playing field.

2. "Every group has to be internally diverse." What is the mechanism by which each group is compelled to become diverse?

3. Finally, what is the mechanism by which a group would "require that its leaders be morally and theologically orthodox Christian," and why should all student funds be used to subsidize this practice?

Ultimately some human being must exercise power in determining who does or does not qualify. By what authority would this human being acquire this right? If we're talking about a state school, any school policy that sought to bolster this person's claim of authority to dictate orthodoxy would seem like a straightforward Establishment Clause problem. But even in a private school, an administration would seem to invite endless controversy by proclaiming itself the arbiter of orthodoxy--or by designating someone else to that task.

Yet there's a simple remedy for this problem: Let the student members of the group elect their leaders. Isn't that what the other student groups do?

Student members should be free to elect any leader whom they deem sufficiently orthodox--much like the Republican Party is free to nominate anyone they deem to be sufficiently orthodox. But, of course, in each case, plenty of self-appointed experts will complain that the person chosen is NOT sufficiently orthodox. Thus, there's really no problem between schools (and political parties) and their student groups (or voters). Rather, the problem is between student groups (and voters) and the self-appointed experts who wish to dictate questions of orthodoxy.

I might in fact agree with these self-appointed experts as a matter of policy. But not as a matter of process. Self-appointed experts are free to exercise their discretion over their own resources--but, absent taxing powers, not over other people's. Thus, any church should feel free to organize a student group and run the group as the church deems appropriate. But it should not expect to dictate control of a school's student group--even if that group purports to organize around the church's faith. And any students who dislike the administration of a student group should be free to withdraw from that group and organize their own group.

Amen.

read full comment
Image of nobody.really
nobody.really
on August 21, 2019 at 14:22:56 pm

All-comers policies forbid a faithfully Catholic group from requiring faithfully Catholic leadership, faithfully Jewish groups form requiring faithfully Jewish leadership, faithfully Baptist groups from requiring faithfully Baptist leadership, and faithfully Muslim groups from requiring faithfully Muslim leadership. Having to be open to everyone, they cannot be thoroughgoingly distinctive. This cannot but weaken the diversity of the range of student groups.

Stated another way, religious groups that have no problem with such a policy earn official recognition and the advantages that go with it. Groups that wish to be faithfully distinctive are not recognized and do not have access to those advantages. This does not strike me as a level playing field.

Under an all-comers policy, as I understand it, the Christian Legal Society, which requires statements of faith from its leadership, cannot be a recognized student group.

read full comment
Image of Joseph Knippenberg
Joseph Knippenberg
on August 21, 2019 at 16:54:38 pm

Sir:

You need not bother to address nobody's arguments.
He is a "wordsmith" of some note with a flair for linguistic prestidigitation.
Curious, isn;t it that this is the same nobody, who in past comments, has railed against facially neutral laws, rules, policies that have the practical effect of discriminating - but only against his most favored victim subgroups.

Then again, as it is patently obvious what a) the effect of such an "all-comers" rule is and b) what it was intended to do, nobody MUST deny by obfuscation that which is plainly before his, and our, eyes.

I mean after all, "What could possibly be wrong with requiring aChristian group to accept into membership an abortion loving Atheist or Druid?

This is certainly fair, is it not? Nobody.really (apparently) believes this batch of balderdash.

read full comment
Image of gabe
gabe
on August 21, 2019 at 21:27:11 pm

All-comers policies forbid a faithfully Catholic group from requiring faithfully Catholic leadership....

1. How would it come to pass that a faithfully Catholic group, when called upon to elect its leadership, would not elect faithfully Catholic leadership? And moreover, assuming this occurred, why should YOUR preference of leadership take precedence over the student's preference?

2. In contrast, what SPECIFIC alternative would you suggest? Does this alternative simply amount to some outside authority dictating to the students?

3. How would a school establishing an all-comers policy deprive a faithfully Catholic group from organizing OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL, and establishing whatever leadership policies they please?

The fact that Knippenberg is unwilling to address any of these questions attests more eloquently than any argument of mine as to the vapidity of the claims.

read full comment
Image of nobody.really
nobody.really
on August 22, 2019 at 08:57:13 am

1. The faithfully Catholic members of a faithfully Catholic group could be swamped by others if they are compelled by school policy to be open to all comers.

2. The specific alternative I suggest is genuine pluralism, the level playing field that exists in a public forum, limited or otherwise.

3. The all comers policy doesn't prevent such groups from organizing off campus, but without the same sort of access to college facilities and funding that recognized student groups have, they're at a disadvantage--an unjust and, I think, ultimately unconstitutional disadvantage--by comparison.

I have been civil and have not pejoratively characterized your arguments and questions. I would request the same courtesy in return.

read full comment
Image of Joseph Knippenberg
Joseph Knippenberg
on August 22, 2019 at 10:38:14 am

1. The faithfully Catholic members of a faithfully Catholic group could be swamped by others if they are compelled by school policy to be open to all comers.

Can we cite any examples of this happening? I find it curious that Christian groups quake in fear of this outcome, whereas I can’t recall hearing about Jewish, Muslim, Black, Latino, Asian, secular humanist, Frisbee, yoga, biking, etc., groups expressing the same concerns.

2. The specific alternative I suggest is genuine pluralism, the level playing field that exists in a public forum, limited or otherwise.

This is the third time I am asking for clarification: HOW? How EXACTLY would you propose this to work? Who EXACTLY would wield the discretion about which students get in or don’t, which standard of orthodoxy applies, and who does nor does sufficiently conform?

For example, Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Ergo I might expect all Christian groups to exclude people who own property. If the group is not using this criterion, then obviously someone is exercising discretion about which Christian policies are relevant for inclusion or exclusion, and for leadership positions. WHO EXACTLY DO YOU THING SHOULD WIELD THAT DISCRETION, AND WHY? And why should student activity fees subsidize your preference, rather than the students’ preferences?

3. The all comers policy doesn’t prevent such groups from organizing off campus, but without the same sort of access to college facilities and funding that recognized student groups have, they’re at a disadvantage–an unjust and, I think, ultimately unconstitutional disadvantage–by comparison.

I find it difficult to imagine that a policy requiring student groups receiving subsidies from student activity fees to be open to those same students could be unconstitutional. What you seek is not free speech/association/exercise, but SUBSIDIZED speech/association/exercise—and the Constitution does not guarantee that. Recall Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, wherein SCOTUS held that student-run newspapers are NOT the same as private newspapers, but were exercises provided by the school for the school’s purposes. If students want the rights of an independent newspaper, they can have them—they just need to form and finance their own newspaper. If they want the subsidy, they must live with the rules set down by the subsidizers. He who pays the piper calls the tune.

I have been civil and have not pejoratively characterized your arguments and questions. I would request the same courtesy in return.

I am interested in a civil discussion—but that involves responding to each other. If I have failed to respond to you, please advise.

In contrast, I have now thrice asked you to state the precise policy you propose. As far as I can tell, your preferred policy is to have some self-appointed authority dictating to students about how they should spend their student activity dollars—and, specifically, that those dollars should be spent upholding the authority’s religious preferences.

If this is your preferred policy, please say so. If it isn’t, please explain. But if you insist on simply ducking the question, could you kindly advice readers how they could draw any conclusion that isn’t pejorative.

read full comment
Image of nobody.really
nobody.really
on August 22, 2019 at 13:46:42 pm

I'll stick with the majority opinion in Rosenberger v. Rector and the dissents in CLS v. Martinez. For student activity fees, the appropriate analogy can be drawn from the majority opinion in Arizona Christian School Tuition organization. For "public funding," why not use the framework of Zelman v,. Simmons-Harris?

I don't favor a single policy declaring who ought to belong to what group, but support the autonomy of student organizations to decide for themselves membership and leadership eligibility. So an Orthodox Jewish group might decide to be open only to Orthodox Jews, while a different Jewish student organization might want to be open to "allies" as well as to Jews

read full comment
Image of Joseph Knippenberg
Joseph Knippenberg
on August 22, 2019 at 16:24:34 pm

I don’t favor a single policy declaring who ought to belong to what group, but support the autonomy of student organizations to decide for themselves membership and leadership eligibility. So an Orthodox Jewish group might decide to be open only to Orthodox Jews, while a different Jewish student organization might want to be open to “allies” as well as to Jews.

Well, if we’re not getting any answers, at least we’re getting more questions. We now have separate questions about control of a group’s membership and the control of a group’s leadership.

Regarding membership, let’s rehearse the familiar questions: How EXACTLY should a student organization make this decision on membership, and WHO would wield the discretion to enforce it?

If you’re reluctant to pick “a single policy,” could you proffer one potential policy that you think would withstand scrutiny?

How ‘bout this: I’ll propose some.

Hypothetical 1: A student group of two, financed with student activity fees, votes to adopt a policy admitting only members of the Christian Identity Movement. Does that meet with your approval? If not, what remedy?

Hypothetical 2: Same as Hypo. 1, but this group then votes to interpret this criterion to exclude everyone but themselves, and then proceed to use their share of the student activity funds to underwrite their lifestyles. Does this scenario meet with your approval? If not, what remedy?

Hypothetical 3: Same as Hypo 1, but the Student Council votes to zero out the funding for this group on the grounds that it wrongfully excluded members of protected classes. And it votes to zero out funding for the Muslim men’s club for the same reason.

The two student groups sue, arguing that efforts to sanction them for being exclusionary is unconstitutional. What verdict?

Hypothetical 4: A student group elects its leader. The leader then exploits his power to sexually abuse a student. Who is liable?

Hypothetical 5: A school dictates the leader of a student group, or delegates authority to some designee to pick the leader. This leader exploits his power to sexually abuse a student. Who is liable?

Ultimately this “all comers” debate is one of those intractable Public Choice problems. Public Choice theory tells us that all methods of making collective decisions have shortcomings. For better or worse, the US has a long tradition of solving Public Choice problems via elections. As Churchill observed, democracy is the worst form of government ever devised—except for all the others. Thus, before disparaging the democratic option, it’s crucial that we hear SPECIFICALLY what the other options are.

I sense Knippenberg’s real concern is that I’m applying a Public Choice analysis to what he thinks should be a private choice: religion. And I agree. Specifically, I think people should exercise their private choice over religion USING PRIVATE RESOURCES. But once they seek public subsidies, they're in a different framework, with different rules. He wants to blur the distinction; I keep clarifying it.

So I ask a fourth time, WHO should wield the power to establish rules for a student group, and how? WHO should wield the discretion to enforce them? And WHY should people who get excluded have to subsidize it? The question of who wields the discretion, and how, is central to this issue. You can keep running from the problem, but it runs faster than you do.

read full comment
Image of nobody.really
nobody.really
on August 23, 2019 at 12:41:26 pm

Gee and here I was thinking that a man who supports / espouses MPAD would understand the effects of supposedly "neutral" rules while also recognizing that the right of some to be as inclusive or exclusive as they like.

Also, your silly point about the Christian Group being able to organize off campus is another of your spurious distractions. The entire point is to allow groups, all groups to organize ON CAMPUS.

As for electing leadership, what if you get fifty atheists into the group of 40 Christian students. What becomes of the character of the group?

Let the atheists have their own "little platoon" where they can freely throw christians to the lions; Why in the world would the Christian group invite lions into their little dwelling.

But Christians ARE NOT one of your preferred groups - so MPAD and all your other ostensibly "civil" discourse is non-operative.

read full comment
Image of gabe
gabe
on August 23, 2019 at 15:13:54 pm

I was thinking that a man who supports / espouses MPAD would understand the effects of supposedly “neutral” rules while also recognizing that the right of some to be as inclusive or exclusive as they like.

1. MPAD refers to the Market Power Affirmative Defense, a policy striving to reduce some of the tension between civil rights laws and conscientious objectors thereto.

2. Contrary to gabe’s suggestion, civil rights laws do not claim neutrality. To the contrary, they specifically identify certain “suspect categories,” and require different treatment where a policy discriminates based on those categories. In public policy language, I would categorize civil rights laws as, for example, “race conscious,” not “race neutral.”

Also, your silly point about the Christian Group being able to organize off campus is another of your spurious distractions. The entire point is to allow groups, all groups to organize ON CAMPUS….

But Christians ARE NOT one of your preferred groups – so MPAD and all your other ostensibly “civil” discourse is non-operative.

I designed my hypotheticals to explore this assertion. Hypothetical 1 discusses a group of two students who declare that they will admit to their group only members of the Christian Identity Movement—such as the Ku Klux Klan. If you REALLY mean that you want subsidize ALL groups on campus, then presumably you support this development. But if you don’t, then presumably you want someone to exercise discretion over which kinds of groups warrant subsidies via student activity fees. But a person/group who wields discretion over the funding of a Klan group would also wield discretion over the funding of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

I support the free speech/associate/exercise rights of InterVarsity and of the Klan; in gabe’s language, I favor “neutral,” non-discriminatory policies toward them. But I don’t favor compelling students/schools to subsidize these groups. Where it comes to allocating finite resources, it becomes challenging to devise non-discriminatory policies. Hence my provoking Knippenberg to disclose his preferred method for making such judgments.

Difficult, but not impossible. Knippenberg cited with approval Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, a case that embraced vouches—a solution I had proposed the last time we discussed this. But the devil (ha) is in the details.

Scenario A: The simplest voucher system would be to divide up the pot of money equally among the students and let them do what they like with it. This could result in student subsidies for the KKK. But more importantly, you could imagine that this policy would depress financing for ALL student groups because most students would simply keep the money. (In effect, all student groups would be private groups--a solution I proposed above.)

Scenario B: The next simplest system would be to let students organize themselves into whatever groups they liked in order to get the money, with money allocated based on number of student members. This would rapidly devolve into Scenario A--with students free to form KKK groups, but more likely to form “Let’s just pocket the money” clubs.

Scenario C: Students may organize themselves into groups and submit a form requesting funds. The list of groups would then be submitted to all students for a vote. Groups that received support from most of the student body would get funded based on the number of members they have; all other groups wouldn’t. Here we almost certainly weed out KKK groups, but we still might imagine that “Let’s just pocket the money” clubs could predominate.

Scenarios D, E, F….: Pretty much any other scenario involves SOMEBODY exercising discretion over the allocation of funds—precisely the issue that Knippenberg has been ducking.

(Knippenberg also cited with approval Rosenberger v. Rector, wherein SCOTUS banned the practice of a school expressly discriminating on the basis of religion against a club THAT OTHERWISE COMPLIED WITH SCHOOL POLICIES in the allocation of funds. But the Court didn’t ban schools from discriminating on other grounds—such as “We have finite funds, and we prefer to spend them elsewhere,” or “We don’t finance clubs that violate the school’s all-comers policy.”)

As for electing leadership, what if you get fifty atheists into the group of 40 Christian students. What becomes of the character of the group?

1. I addressed this issue above. Student groups generally run this risk. Why do we hear this anxiety only from Christian groups?

2. Moreover, schools (and society) do not contain atheist and Christians. They contain PEOPLE—people who have multiple qualities, beliefs, and affiliations. For a school to obsess SOLELY on a religious label to the exclusion of all other qualities reflects a profound kind of discrimination. To avoid this kind of discrimination, we traditionally make decisions via voting. In casting a vote, people are free to bring their faith to the question—but also to bring their other concerns, and to weight their concerns as they, not some dictator, deem appropriate.

Now, as Knippenberg and gabe observe, the electorate may not always vote the way they like. Thus they may want to constrain the electorate’s options—for example, constricting the list of candidates to only those who have expressed sufficient orthodoxy to meet their approval. We observe this kind of thing in Russia and Iran. Suffice it to say, I don’t embrace this practice—but, obviously, people differ on this point.

read full comment
Image of nobody.really
nobody.really
on August 25, 2019 at 17:25:56 pm

The end of freedom of thought of and of association is defended and celebrated by "nobody really", who apparently truly believes that one essential aspect of college life (and perhaps all of life for all we know) is that no one can be or should be allowed small islands of serenity and peace where people of good will who intend harm to no one can gather to discuss a subject with which they are intimately acquainted.

No. Persons who are unacquainted with the fundamental commitments of any particular religious group must be allowed access to these gatherings. Nothing else will do. In other words knowledge of the precepts and fundamental teachings of a faith can count for nothing and so the proceedings and discussions must proceed as, say, a chess match or a tennis match would proceed between experienced players in the field and those who know nothing about its "inner workings but claim their right to participate while explaining their own rules, their own understanding, their own authority.
.
This reminds me of my own past attempts to comment at liberty law site. I rarely but occasionally had something of value to offer. Many times I seriously embarrassed myself. But the experienced lawyers here were not perturbed. They either courteously engaged with me when I had anything at all to add to the conversation or ignored me when I really would have better remained silent. I am grateful that no one was required to think that my complete lack of credentials entitled me to full participation. Had large numbers of commentators like me invaded the site, I can only hope that some system of discrimination would have been developed.

nobody really in particular convinced me to abandon the field. He is certain that he understands the inner workings of faith within the souls of individual persons or groups of those who "strive to enter by the narrow gate" - to "strive" Fr. Paul Scalia explains is connected to the Greek concept of "agony". Nobody really has no respect for this particular form of "agony" because he is certain that it mistaken at best - or worse than that in one way or another.

I continue to read the fine articles and book reviews with admiration. They bring hope. (Congratulation to "Gabe" and others who continue to fight the good fight in the comments blog. Your readers thank you.

read full comment
Image of Latecomer
Latecomer
on August 25, 2019 at 19:54:31 pm

Better to have written that faith is integrated into the being of the believer in such a way that he or she does not exist as an acting person without this aspect of him or her self. It is the primary organizing principle of a believer; the ground on which he or her stands. This is the result of serious commitment together with the living out, day by day, of the demands of that commitment.

read full comment
Image of Latecomer
Latecomer
on August 25, 2019 at 19:55:41 pm

rather "his or her self" - also the ground on which "he or she" stands.

read full comment
Image of Latecomer
Latecomer

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.

Related

college admissions scandal – samuelson post one

Sins of Admissions

The college-admissions scandal enrages conservatives, who detest the concentrated power that today’s “best schools” represent; but we always had an elite.