College rankings…based upon faith?

This morning Inside Higher Ed ran a story (What Would Jesus Do (in College) ) that caught my attention. It is a great piece in that it combines two favorite topics, religion and politics. It seems that conservative Intercollegiate Studies Institute has published a college guide called All-American Colleges
Top Schools for Conservatives, Old-Fashioned Liberals, and People of Faith
. This book lists a large number of colleges and universities that fits within the ISI’s ideals:1

At each of these diverse institutions, students who identify themselves as religious believers, conservatives, or old-fashioned liberals will find programs that connect in a special way with the core values of the American founding and the vibrant intellectual traditions of the West—schools and programs that are, in fact, often transformative.

The Inside Higher Ed piece examines how several institutions responded to be associated with ISI and some of the other schools on the list. What the administrators quoted struggle with is how to present their Gospel-formed social views in such a way that they are not equated with the "progressive left" and their religious commitments without being seen as the "religious right." Loren Swartzendruber, president of Eastern Mennonite University, said

“The growth of the right-wing Christian population in this country, or should I say, at least the visibility of the right-wing – which gets attached to ‘Christian’ in the minds of people – creates a disconnect for us. Because we are clearly Christian. We have no intention of giving up that identity. But we are, I think, a different kind of Christian.”

In my experience, if you hold social views that are associated with liberals then conservatives will see you as such (and perhaps even question your committment to the Gospel). If you are committed to the Gospel and, to use examples from EMU and Messiah College, have social standards that reject drunkeness and extramarital sex then liberals will see you as right-wing conservatives and attribute such political views to you as well. In other words, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. And I believe that is just what Jesus told his disciples .

  1. The table of contents lists the schools as: Asbury College
    Austin College
    Belmont Abbey College
    Biola University
    Brooklyn College
    Calvin College
    Centre College
    University of Chicago
    Christendom College
    The Citadel
    University of Dallas
    Deep Springs College
    Eastern Mennonite University
    Emory and Henry College
    Eureka College
    George Fox University
    Gordon College
    Grove City College
    Hanover College
    Hillsdale College
    Hope College
    Houghton College
    The King’s College
    Lee University
    Messiah College
    New St. Andrews College
    College of the Ozarks
    Pepperdine University
    Princeton University
    Providence College
    Rhodes College
    St. Anselm College
    St. Bonaventure University
    St. John’s College
    The University of St. Thomas
    St. Vincent College
    Samford University
    Seattle Pacific University
    Shimer College
    Southern Virginia University
    University of the South
    Southwestern University
    Thomas Aquinas College
    Thomas More College of Liberal Arts
    Union College
    Virginia Military Institute
    Wabash College
    Wheaton College
    Whitman College
    Yeshiva University []

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