Jesus and the Ivy League

Religious conservatives often insist that America’s colleges and universities used to be “our schools.”

For example, Protestant fundamentalist educational writer A. A. “Buzz” Baker pointed out in the 1970s that, although “it may come as a surprise to some,” most of America’s leading colleges “used to be ‘our’ schools.”[1]  Similarly, B. Gray Allison, a conservative evangelical from Louisiana, noted in 1968 as campuses nationwide roiled with cultural conflict that not only Harvard, Yale, and Princeton began with explicitly religious missions, but “even the early state-supported institutions had a concern for the perpetuation of what might be termed religious culture.”[2]

Over at the inimitable The Way of Improvement Leads Home, historian John Fea offers some evidence from the archives to back up those assertions.

On March 19, 1761, Fea reports, the College of Philadelphia’s (the future Penn) Board of Trustees approved some student rules that might warm the heart of twenty-first century religious conservatives.

Every student had to attend chapel.  Slacking off or not paying attention during prayer or Bible readings could call for punishment.

Plus, no sauntering!  Check out Fea’s full post here.


[1] A.A. Baker, The Successful Christian School: Foundational Principles for Starting and Operating a Successful Christian School (Pensacola, FL: A Beka Book Publications, 1979), 34.


[2] B. Gray Allison, “The American Campus as a Spiritual Force,” Christianity Today 12 (May 10, 1968): 5.


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