Professor Peter Conn wrote that Christian colleges “undermine the most fundamental purposes of higher education” and should not be accredited. Conn is a professor of English and education at the University of Pennsylvania.
Specifically, he says:
Skeptical and unfettered inquiry is the hallmark of American teaching and research. However, such inquiry cannot flourish — in many cases, cannot even survive — inside institutions that erect religious tests for truth. The contradiction is obvious.
He also attacks the Christian college Wheaton, called by some “the Harvard of evangelical education,” saying:
“Unlike Harvard, Wheaton is one of the colleges that oblige their faculty members to complete faith statements. In other words, at Wheaton the primacy of reason has been abandoned by the deliberate and repeated choices of both its administration and its faculty.”
Alan Jacobs, a professor now at Baylor who worked for 29 years at Wheaton, says that he taught at the Christian college of Wheaton because of its academic freedom. He writes:
I was there for the academic freedom. My interests were in the intersection of theology, religious practice and literature — a very rich field, but one that in most secular universities I would have been strongly discouraged from pursuing except in a corrosively skeptical way.
Are Christian colleges bad for academic freedom, as Conn writes? Or do they possess and even sometimes increase academic freedom?
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