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Colleges are neither families nor churches

September 25, 2007, 9:11 am

Patrick Henry College in Virginia has become something of a lightning rod for criticism among higher education types because of its commitment to conservative political and religious principles and because of its high profile. Some of this criticism is perhaps justified, for example the requirement to affirm a literal six-day creation. But say what you want about PHC, you have to like this statement that I found on their web site:

Patrick Henry College is neither a church, nor a family. We are here to support these two institutions in the lives of our students, not supplant either of them.

Our support for the local church begins with both our requirement that students attend a local church on Sunday as well as our purposeful decision to not create our own campus church with its own Sunday services. We support the continuing role of the parents in the lives of our students in ways that are unique. For example, we send a copy of the semester grades to parents (when the student is a financial dependent). We also support the parents’ role in courtship.

Yes. Universities are not families; healthy families do not accept or reject people based on the basis of grades or other performance factors. Neither are they churches, for the same reasons. Conversely, the factors that make a family or church healthy — unconditional acceptance, the absence of performance standards to attain merit, etc. — are precisely those things that make a university unhealthy. Christian colleges tend to be particularly bad at this. At least PHC seems to be getting this right.

And by the way, why do the “progressives” get upset when PHC apparently trains young people for public service in a conservative setting but will go their graves defending Antioch College‘s right to do the same thing from an opposite ideological point of view? (That is, if it weren’t for the fact that Antioch is out of business?)

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