Trumpist Towers? Or Critical Colleges?

I’ve said it before and now I’m saying it again: Trumpism speaks to long traditions among white evangelicals. And time and again, evangelical colleges have been the institutional homes of Trump-like yearnings to “make America great again.” As I argue this afternoon over at Religion Dispatches, however, evangelical colleges have also played another key role.

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Are evangelical colleges bastions of Trumpism? Or are they the only places evangelicals can turn to find out what’s wrong with loving The Donald?

I won’t give away the entire argument. SAGLRROILYBYGTH might be bored to tears with the topic and you can read the whole thing if you’re interested. But I will say that it’s no surprise that President Trump loves Liberty University. It’s also no surprise, however, that the Liberty community isn’t sure if they love him back.

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  1. Adam, I’d like to clarify something. Are you making the argument here that Larycia Hawkins was fired in part because of white nationalist roots?

    • Short answer: Yes.
      Long answer: #1: Technically, Prof. Hawkins wasn’t fired. She left in the end, but the college withdrew its plan to fire her.
      #2: I accept that many prominent members of the Wheaton community supported Prof. Hawkins actively. Many people in that community–administrators, teachers, students, parents, alumni–have long fought against racism. The school itself has a long history of active anti-racism.
      #3: Having noted all that and celebrated it, I still think that Prof. Hawkins was pushed out due to the deep assumptions–often unrecognized and unarticulated–among SOME white evangelicals that their traditions are under attack from outsiders. If a prominent white male evangelical theologian had preached that Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all worshiped “the same God,” he would not likely have faced the same response as did Prof. Hawkins. There is still a strong element in white evangelicalism that evangelical institutions like Wheaton have no choice but to appease–an element that looks askance at an African-American woman in hijab preaching that Islam and Christianity are the same.

      • Thank you for answering.

      • What do you think? Do you see/hear/feel a white-nationalist vibe at your church? A sense that America used to be awesome, but has lost its way?

      • I don’t see white nationalism at our church. We don’t talk about politics there (maybe people do in personal conversations, I don’t know) but I do know from social media that people have different politics, from the rare things I see. There is a sense that the culture is changing from what it use to be, but that doesn’t manifest itself in any type of collective political sense. I don’t think our problems will ever be solved through politics, and my hope and trust is not in Trump.

        To be fair, I never looked into exactly what Larycia Hawkins had to say and the reasons for saying the things she said. I would do that before making any final judgments or decisions about what I thought of her statement. I don’t doubt what you said in your response about the historical perspective. That being said, one thing I disagreed with in your article was when you said that Christians and Muslims worshiping the same God is a mild statement. That is anything but a mild statement. I don’t send my kid to college to agree with his professors, and I don’t expect to have the same theology. I wouldn’t have a problem with a professor wearing a Hijab because she wants to support and love Muslim women. Go for it.

        The problem I would have is I would be astounded if at a Christian college, professors were making sincere arguments in a classroom that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. If that was the position that multiple professors were taking, I would certainly be tempted to unenroll my kid from the school. It really doesn’t matter to me whether an African American woman or a white male is saying we have the same God. I find it equally offensive. She obviously has a heart and a love for Muslims and I think that would have been a wonderful influence on the students if she would have chosen to stay. I do think Wheaton must have had serious concerns about people pulling their kids out of their college if those types of views were being argued in the classroom. And they would have had good reason to have serious concerns.

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