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: [mfn]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[/mfn]

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 .

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