Ideologically Pure

I've always associated the idea of being "Ideologically Pure" in American colleges with the activist left community. Perhaps it's because of the community of activist vegans I knew and lived with for a year (long story – but don't worry faithful readers, it involves me eating lots of hamburgers!). It's a bum rap that the hippie-esque left gets associated with the value of "relativism" – because those people tend to be more in line with a True Believer in The Cause, and tend to be distrustful of those who don't believe (or worse, believe only half-heartedly or have doubts), than any good old fashion antipositivist could imagine.

There were the vegans who, in private no doubt, loathed the vegetarians for not being willing to suffer enough in the cause. There were the vegans who raced to be even more pure than their brothers-in-arms. And there were the members of the GLBT community who might have been more comfortable leaving the Bs at the bottom of the rainbow (one wonders if there were secret GLT "Bs: make a choice already!" meetings).

And for those who the very idea of getting a college education reeked of indoctrination or those who felt that colleges didn't go far enough in ordering society there were schooling alternatives (Personally, for the purposes of designing society I'll always take my chances with the capitalists' Culture Industry than with Phish and white girls who have dreadlocks).

Mind you, the only 'conservatives' I knew were a few kids holed up in the local church and attached Newman House, more concerned about how they would match up in baby output versus their contemporaries than in matters of ideas. That and the various frat people I encountered were also more concerned with managing the upcoming weekend party (and the legal troubles afterwards) or young Republicans making little Michael-Mooresque pranks.

So I'm equal parts happy and horrified to see the New Yorker's profile on Patrick Henry College. I know Christian focused college have existed for quite some time, but I've always sensed that they were like a giant Newman House run amock. Lots of odd 'socials', lots of making sure you get married before you graduate, etc. Little did I know that the Will to Believe was as strong there as any campus activist group.

The school was originally started as a college for homeschooled children and as a repertoire for aides and volunteers for hard-right politicans. So picture classroom after classroom of children who have been 'untainted' by classroom interaction and having to deal with, or be inspired by, teachers who aren't their parents.

The article doesn't have any links to the webpage, but it is worth it to explore around. First up is the Statement of Faith all kids who matriculate to the college have to sign. Check it out. " The Bible…is the inspired word of God, inerrant in its original autographs … Man is by nature sinful and is inherently in need of salvation…" All I had to sign was a Academic Integrity agreement. Sadly I could not find the dress code students adhere to online. If it is anything more strict than a stained, slept-in comic book t-shirt, I would have been in major trouble…

A lot has been written on the high-level policies of these Christian Colleges – their bans on inter-racial dating, their Full Support of republicans on the march, their disturbing speakers and sources of funding, attitudes toward Evolution, etc. But little has beeen written on the student's day-to-day life. As smoking and drinking are strictly forbidden, I genuinely don't know how they would spend their free time. I thought perhaps they sat around and listened to Minor Threat.

I should have known the answer: they try and become the most pure. This must be hard on a campus of virgins, non-drinkers or drug takers. But they find their way. One student sent out an email reminding women to dress modestly for the Spring Dance because "

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9 Responses to “Ideologically Pure”

  1. Ed Says:

    I don't know, Mike. I think someone who was _home schooled_ in RURAL IDAHO has more than enough life experience upon which to base know-it-all conclusions about the proper role of government in society.

  2. Liz Says:

    My little sister is a Fundamentalist, although she is less crazy than most of them (politically pro-choice and pro-gay rights). She is coming to IU in the fall and will grow out of it rather quickly, I hope and pray. It must be noted, however, that she took a misguided tour of a college (Marion College, I think) that forced her to sign a contract saying that she would not swear; cut her hair short; dress immodestly; watch rated-R, X, or NC-17 movies; or "engage in social dancing" (!) _before they would even let her apply_.

  3. Ed Says:

    That was Indiana Wesleyan. Where they also have no students who aren't white.

  4. mike Says:

    What if she were to practice "safe" social dancing? (A liberal public university has failed to teach me that there is no such thing as "safe" social dancing!)

    Ed: That's no relation to Illinois Wesleyan, right? Umm, that contract doesn't sound like the kids I know who went off to there…

  5. Ed Says:

    Well, they're obviously run by the same religious order, although Illinois Wesleyan has a much more pervasive reputation as a school for people who can't get into ISU. Perhaps the difference is IL Wesleyan being in Bloomington-Normal whereas IN Wesleyan is in the middle of fucking nowhere.

  6. erik Says:

    Also, Wheaton in Chicago (or Wheaton more specifically) has a no dancing policy. I am aware of this because of the fact that my incredibly (thanking the lord for George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld at thanksgiving dinner) conservative grandparents really would have liked me to go there.

  7. Ed Says:

    Wheaton also has a tradition of students getting engaged as graduation gifts.

  8. Scott Says:

    A friend of mine got a job a IWU. While he's still basically the same, I've noticed little changes in him. Before he got the job, he would drink the occasional alcoholic beverage, but now we can't even get him to drink a beer.

    I went up to visit him in Marion (which is so small the cool place to hang out is the Wal-Mart). I went with him to get coffee at the IWU student union and I was afraid they would make me sign a loyalty oath when I got my drink. That place is pretty fucked-up.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    I like how you attributed the interracial dating ban of one christian college (bob jones) to all christian colleges. Even they ended the ban five years ago. It is pathetic that they had the ban that long, but they're the only christian college I know of that bans interracial dating.