Before You Blame Fundamentalism, Read This

I can understand why some conservative evangelical intellectuals wouldn’t like my book. In chapter after chapter, I look at some of the most uncomfortable tensions in the world of evangelical higher education, the often-poisonous legacy of decades of fundamentalist anger and vitriol. But why should we single out religious schools for this sort of criticism? Public schools, after all, have their own legacies of racism and pandering, as the news from Colorado attests.


It’s not only fundamentalist colleges that have to deal with their ugly racist legacies…

At Colorado State, as IHE reports, two high school students were singled out for their appearance, racial and fashion-wise. The students were of Native American background and had driven seven hours to take the campus tour. They joined the tour late, apparently, and didn’t answer the tour guide’s questions adequately.

So another tour member called 911. The two kids, she reported, “really stand out.” Their t-shirts, she complained, featured “weird symbolism.” (They look to this headbanger like pretty standard heavy-metal logos.)

Campus cops came and talked with the teenagers. The two were polite and the cops agreed the high-schoolers had done nothing wrong. The teens told the cops they were shy and didn’t know how to respond to the tour guide’s question. They were invited to rejoin the tour, but unsurprisingly they didn’t feel like it and drove home.

What does any of this have to do with fundamentalism and evangelical colleges? It proves that ALL colleges are in a similar bind. ALL colleges need to pander to the lowest common denominator in the families they are trying to attract. If an ignorant and apparently racist mom decides two other teenagers “really stand out,” the college administration needs to address those concerns, even if the mom in question goes far beyond daffy.

Leave a comment


  1. Agellius

     /  May 7, 2018

    When — oh when! — will everyone just learn to be be GOOD???

    : )

  2. Aaron Smow

     /  May 11, 2018

    Short: “It’s not just evangelical schools that are racist. Regular schools are too. It’s not their fault either- it’s society, that mom, free market forces… ” No. This is wrong. Racism is wrong. Schools do not need to pander to racists. White people need to clean this garbage up- whether we made it or not.

    • Agellius

       /  May 11, 2018

      Speak for yourself. I’m not responsible for cleaning up something I neither had anything to do with, nor have ever participated in in any way. If your conscience bothers you, that’s your problem.


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