so, rick santorum, what you’re saying is “be conservative: don’t go to college”

Don't wanna be conservative anymore so I went to college

Rick Santorum’s real beliefs on education are finally frothing up and boiling over. Unfortunately, he’s saying them aloud in public.

Kyle Munzenrieder wrote a brilliant response for the Miami New Times to Santorum’s most recent comments, as did The Hill‘s Daniel Strauss. Allow me to offer my own.

Rick Santorum finally said aloud what many fundamentalist Christians have felt for a long time: “be conservative: don’t go to college. And if you do go to college, make sure it’s a Republican party-approved private conservative Christian college. (I’m looking at you Liberty University, Bob Jones, Oral Roberts, Regent University, BYU, and Pepperdine.)

Listen to what Santorum told a Florida audience:

“It’s no wonder President Obama wants every kid to go college..the indoctrination that occurs in American universities is one of the keys to the left holding and maintaining power in America. And it is indoctrination.”

Evangelicals would prefer that students either attend schools with the words “evangelical,” “theological,” and “seminary” in the title (preferably all three) or not at all. Because according to Santorum’s and other evangelicals’ line of thought, when the nation’s top colleges and state universities educate students, it’s liberal indoctrination. But, when private conservative evangelical schools educate students, it’s not indoctrination; it’s a simple dissemination of facts (and by facts, I mean faith claims that are often contrary to scientific facts).

It’s almost comical: Evangelicals don’t want kids to go to America’s top colleges because they might actually learn something besides a fundamentalist, conservative, literalist, theologically-laced worldview, which often leads to a biblically defended suppression of the civil rights of groups that don’t look and/or think like they do. So, from a very early age, they encourage like-minded people to isolate and insulate their kids from any point of view other than their own by placing kids in home schools, private (approved conservative) Christian schools, conservative Christian colleges, and if they do attend graduate school, they often receive some fantastic degree in education, physics, and applied scripture from Southern Evangelical Theological Seminary (I made this title up. If it does exist, my point has only been further underscored.)

So just to clarify:

Public school: Liberal indoctrination
Home school: NOT indoctrination

Public High School: Liberal indoctrination
Christian High School: NOT indoctrination

Public or Ivy League university: Liberal indoctrination
Christian College: NOT indoctrination

R1 Research Graduate School: Liberal indoctrination
Evangelical Theological Seminary: NOT indoctrination

I shake my head.

HT: Jim West

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27 Responses

  1. Here is another way to look at the same set of facts.

    Public school eductation: indoctrination by pro-government interests (such as the teachers’ union)

    Home school: indoctrination by parents that have their child’s best interests at heart

  2. as long as you define ‘pro-government interests‘ as ‘science, mathematics, and logic,’ and ‘best interests‘ as ‘what i tell you to believe,’ i’d agree with you. -bc

  3. [...] witty Baptist pastor Jim West is outraged; as is Robert Cargill. HT to [...]

  4. Completely agree, though Rick is Roman Catholic. I got this growing up. Public school teaching me the facts about the theory of evolution: indoctrination. My church bringing in a speaker to scare us about demons and tell us stories about little girls who played with Ouija boards and then became possessed and killed themselves, or the speaker we had tell us that there was a water canopy above the earth that flooded the entire world, is honest thoughtful study.

  5. Bob, another way to look at what Tom says is “facts = indoctrination” and “I’ll love my children as long as they agree with me.”

    Ah, the wholesome and heartwarming conservative way of thinking.

    And the crazy part is that there is no way to dissuade them because there now exists a whole Fox News and Christian media complex that enables them to live in their own level of reality.

  6. amazing. there is beginning to be research data that tells us what we’ve feared: more highly educated people tend to be more tolerant and liberal/progressive. less educated people tend to be more intolerant and conservative.

    there’s another study tying educational levels specifically to religion:
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160289608001013
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2111174/Intelligent-people-less-likely-to-believe-in-God.html

    this chart is also telling (keeping in mind that average iq=100): http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/72/LynnHarveyNyborg-CountryBelieveGod-Intelligence.svg

  7. Ah, if only it were that simple.

    What about the home-schooling parent that does dilligently teach math, science, etc.? (I’ve met several.)

    What about the public school that has hostile anti-God policies?

    What about an out-of-control government that fails to obey its own Constitution, but expects all the people to obey the government?

  8. we tend to believe those who reinforce what we already believe. the sign of an objective thinker is one who can: a) truly understand another point of view, b) understand why a person would hold that view, and 3) isolate the real reasons why one objects to that alternate view. if most people are honest, the answer to that third question more often than not will be a religious conviction, based on a faith claim. (i.e., ‘that can’t be because it goes against a faith claim i hold, and i can’t bend on that.’)

  9. that is odd, but i’m not one for going after the personal lives of the relatives unless they play a defined political role in the administration/campaign. (smiling and talking up the candidate doesn’t count.) she’s not running. and she can date who she wants to date. if she’s been faithful to her husband and hasn’t broken the law, it’s a non-story in my book.

  10. In the days of the Soviet Union, there were often “scientific studies” to show that people that believed in God were uneducated dolts, while people that believed in Communism were educated and “progressive”.

    The nature of such “facts” gave rise to the saying “new lies for old”.

    I usually do understand other points of view, which is why I reject them.

    (I don’t need to eat s— to know that it tastes bad.)

    ;)

  11. There, you see? We do agree on something significant.

    The families of candidates are off-limits, for exactly the reasons that you describe.

    As for Karen’s strong 180-degree turn on abortion views, there is an old saying that “the greatest sinners become the greatest saints”.

  12. yes, and what happened to ‘free thinkers’ in the soviet union?
    and did you just refer to belief in god as an ‘old lie’?

    communism failed because it wrongly assumed no one would cheat.
    capitalism (the least effective form of government with the exception of everything else) is successful because it assumes everyone will cheat and builds in countermeasures against it.

  13. I’ll be sure to pass that along to St. Bill Clinton.

  14. Thanks for a good post, Bob.

    For a group whose scriptures teach that “perfect love casts out fear,” I’m constantly astonished at the sad, small fear-mongering of many Christians when it comes to the open exchange of culture and ideas.

    It’s a terrible indictment that such brassy cultural bravado should mask a deeply felt terror that our kids might look, think, and believe differently than we.

    Kids are like sand. Closed hands mean they’ll slip through your fingers. I’ve seen it first hand.

    I was home-schooled, K-12. I got an outstanding alternative education, went on constant adventures, read more widely than most college educated adults, and generally had a great time. Credit goes to my parents for allowing me to pursue what I wanted to pursue (admittedly they were home-schooling before they were believers, for educational, not cultural reasons), and being willing to grow and change as I did.

    Later, I attended a small, private Christian university, and then a local theological seminary as I pursued my interest in biblical literature. It made sense for me, and I got a good education that has well prepared me for a career in publishing I was always a bit of the campus liberal, being asked to sit on the left for panel discussions about Christianity and violence, environmental issues, and the like. Many of these smaller schools (at least in the NW) are remarkably open minded, and offer strong, competitive educations. There are some very positive things happening there. And there’s a lot of crap.

    Today, I’m still a pretty liberal voter, a long haired creative writing for a living, and more passionate about my discipleship to Christ and his church than I ever have been.

    Looking back, I had a quite positive experience with my schooling. I made it through in one piece. But I will encourage my two children to pursue education outside of the Christian sub-culture, wherever they will receive the best preparation for the path that they are choosing to follow. Why?

    Because as I look at the circle of “likeminded,” conservative homeschoolers that I grew up with, there is hardly a one who is following the faith of their parents- or even in a place of personal health at all. Rather, the sad attempts at control have pushed them far away from anything that smacks of the legalistic, sour Christianity of their upbringing. They missed out on life, decent education, and on Jesus.

    Santorum is telling lies. Thousands of well-meaning families are buying it. And in the midst of the rhetoric, the minds, hearts, and souls of bright kids get crippled. I made it through quite happily. Not everyone’s so lucky. Or “blessed.”

  15. I feel this picture of Rick (Linked below), summaries his stance on University education. Just look at the logo next to his heart! Where else would rick want you to go to be indoctrinated!

    http://www.inquisitr.com/wp-content/2012/01/rick-santorum-vests.jpg

  16. Here’s a great review of a science book used by conservative Christiab homeschoolers and conservative Christian schools. It’s published by (surprise surprise) Bob Jones University.

    http://www.11points.com/Books/11_Eye-Opening_Highlights_From_a_Creationist_Science_Textbook

    Also, if you want to see how well their history books hold up, check out John Fea’s book “Was America founded as a Christian Nation: A historical Introduction”

  17. Why bother wasting 1s and 0s writing this? Anyone who actually wants to go to college knows this. It’s not exactly breaking news. I mean, the church went apeshit when the printing press was invented because people could suddenly read the Bible!
    So, what can you do about this?

  18. Robert,

    You said “It’s almost comical: Evangelicals don’t want kids to go to America’s top colleges because they might actually learn something besides a fundamentalist, conservative, literalist, theologically-laced worldview, which often leads to a biblically defended suppression of the civil rights of groups that don’t look and/or think like they do.”

    Robert, with respect, you need to get out more. You need to meet some real Evangelicals. My wife and I are Evangelical. We did our undergraduate work at UNC-Chapel Hill in Psychology…a strong secular school by any account, and I went on and did my graduate work in Cultural Studies and Communications….both disciplines being a bastion for progressive thought. (Psychology certainly is as well). We have three kids who we home schooled through the 5th grade. They each went to public school starting in 6th grade. My daughter, my oldest, who is an Evangelical believer, is currently a student at Cornell with a GPA in the high 3s. My two boys are in public high school. They are each believers and have thought out worldviews that are Evangelical. They each are in the top honors classes. One wants to be a chef and the other wants to go into graphic design, specifically big movie special effects. So we are investigating the top schools (around the world, not just the U.S.) in both these areas. These schools are secular and we are more than comfortable with this.

    Moreover, we go to a large Evangelical church (my daughter now goes to a small to medium size Evangelical church in Ithaca), where there are hundreds, even thousands, of people similar to myself (evangelical beliefs, advanced degrees from strong secular institutions in both the sciences and humanities, not adverse to home schooling, etc).

    Additionally, I have several close friends that are strongly progressive/liberal in their worldviews. Only 1 of about 8 are as concerned about civil rights as I am and are as actively involved. Authentic Evangelicals are some of the most least prejudice people on the planet. Christ has zero tolerance for racism and bigotry and those that are authentically His get this.

    Your article paints such a broad stroke, pejorative, and most importantly, inaccurate picture of a significant percentage of Evangelicals, I felt I needed to comment.

    With sincerity, if you find yourself in NC anytime soon, I would love to meet you. You have my email so you can notify me. I’m certain we could have some wonderful conversation and expand our thinking. I’ll even buy dinner! Just let me know. Regards.

  19. Pat,

    Thank you for your note.
    And thanx for making my point. Examples like yours are important for politicians like Rick Santorum to see.
    You attended a state-funded school. And yet you’re not ‘indoctrinated’ and ‘brainwashed.’ You and you family are perfect evidence that what Rick Santorum said is absolute nonsense.

    However, I should also note that Rick Santorum would likely hold up the way you are describing you and your family (“strongly progressive/liberal in their worldviews”) as evidence in support of his claim.
    You are truly exceptional, as you note by citing that “Only 1 of about 8 are as concerned about civil rights as I am,” which is a testament to you (as you understand the true message of Christianity) and an unfortunate indictment of what I describe above – the 7/8 that are not “strongly progressive/liberal in their worldviews” and aren’t really concerned about civil rights.

    Your example supports both claims: that Santorum has no idea what he’s talking about, and that 7/8 of Evangelicals (by your estimation) are ‘conservative’.

    And yes, I’d love to take you up on dinner the next time I’m in NC. Thank you.

    Cheers, bc

  20. Shed light (and at times, a little heat). The worst thing scholars can do is not speak up when ridiculous claims are made. -bc

  21. Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminaty is a wonderfully liberal UMC school. Perhaps some conservatives can be tricked into winding up there and receiving an education.

  22. Bob,

    I’m not sure I follow your response. Me and my family are not “strongly progressive/liberal in our worldviews”. We would be categorized as conservatives. The 8 friends I am describing as strongly progressive/liberal in their worldviews are NOT Evangelicals, in fact they make no claims to Christianity. In spite of our political and social differences we are good friends. And 7 of those 8 give no real support to civil rights. They may talk about it over a latte but are not interested in any real action to help give people true agency. The vast majority of authentic Evangelicals are simultaneously “conservative” AND against prejudice and bigotry. There is no conflict here. Conservatism born out of a relationship to Christ is strongly concerned about individual freedom and widespread agency for all. Christianity, rightly understood, celebrates and promotes diversity and has a keen interest in helping the poor and disenfranchised.

    As an educator, you most likely realize that a large segment of communication theory falls into a Critical Paradigm, where societal power structures and the status quo are challenged and often rebuked. The “voice” of the marginalized is a priority. As an Evangelical who takes God’s revelation from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22 seriously this aspect of comm theory resonates with me. Admittedly my solutions may not always be identical to some of my academic peers, but the heart is similar.

    Anyway, I was serious about dinner. You have my email. If you give me a few days heads up, I’ll be glad to take you to dinner. While we no doubt have differences of thought, we could have some great conversation. I feel I would certainly benefit from your perspectives. You may from mine as well. Best.

  23. I went to Arizona State and majored in zoology. I learned the technical basics of evolutionary theory, field biology, animal behavior and its evolution, and sociobiology. Studied respiratory therapy at a community college (and didn’t learn anything that went against the faith). Eventually studied New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology of Chicago (definitely not an institution for the isolated evangelical-fundamentalist). Somehow I still believe in the Trinity, grace, Jesus’ resurrection, etc. But then I was more of a Lake Woebegone Lutheran when growing up (four years of Lutheran parochial school) than a member of any closed fundamentalist community). I briefly flirted with fundamentalism while in college but my Lutheran upbringing, which encouraged me to ask questions, eventually caused me to turn my back on fundamentalism (and evangelicalism, but that’s another story).
    Can’t at all comprehend neo-Calvinist fundamentalism. Seems to be a matter of which subculture one comes from.
    And Santorum is just plain wrong.

    Lynn

    Lynn Allan Kauppi, PhD
    Codex Editorial Services
    Phoenix

  24. My nephew, an evangelical Christian who studied accounting at Pepperdine (a conservative Christian college), was taught that a national health care system was equal to tyranny: that states with national health care systems weren’t “free.” “What about Canada, Great Britain, and many other nations in Western Europe…are they not “free”?” I asked. Seems not to have come up in class.

    Ironically, even at so-called “liberal” public universities, you won’t find Marx taught in Economics classes. No matter what your opinion of him and his philosophy, it can’t be denied that his theories greatly influenced the history and economies of the 20th century. A friend of mine who graduated with a BA in Economics and an MBA in Business from UCLA never read Marx, not even a negative critique of his theory.

    Ironically, there are sufficient reasons to consider not attending college these days outside of Santorum’s scare tactics about indoctrination. Overwhelming student debt and a lack of jobs that require education in specialized fields is enough to give any thoughtful person pause. Our current economy rewards corporations that send manufacturing jobs overseas and automation that reduces the need for labor or even specialized employment in some cases.

  25. The problem with this is now you’re required to get a degree for the most mundane low skilled tasks. I never thought I’d see the day when McDonalds required someone to have a deploma to flip burgers but that day has arrived. The kids on wallstreet occupying were right about the expensive costs of education, but why did they attack wall street when it’s the overpriced schooling that is to blame. Colleges have been making themselves mandatory slowly and slowly until it came to the point we are at today. Education is good, don’t get me wrong, but making it mandatory to go to school for something most people already know just to get a piece of paper is a scam.

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