William Anderson writes for the Martin Center about a challenge Christian schools face in the years ahead.
An African-American pro-life speaker recently spoke at a Midwestern college and several members of the school’s student government declared the speaker “had made many students, staff, and faculty of color feel unheard, underrepresented, and unsafe on our campus.” On America’s politicized campuses, that hardly is news.
However, these were not students at some notoriously leftist school like Oberlin; they were students at Wheaton College in Illinois, a well-known Christian college. Wheaton was the alma mater of the late evangelist Billy Graham along with three missionaries famously martyred in Ecuador in 1956. But today, a pro-life viewpoint that supposedly is common at Christian colleges now is considered “controversial.”
Wheaton’s turmoil is a microcosm for Christian colleges in the United States, which until recently have enjoyed protected status in higher education. For more than a century, Christian colleges have operated in a parallel universe to their secular counterparts. Some, like Wheaton, are non-denominational while others, such as Covenant College in Northwest Georgia, are tied to a denomination (in Covenant’s case, the theologically-conservative Presbyterian Church in America).
Christian colleges in the past have operated with minimal government oversight. Most are accredited by the same regional accreditation associations that also grant academic recognition to secular private and public colleges and universities, and generally have good reputations for their undergraduate academics.