Training ultra-conservative theocrats: The mission of Patrick Henry College
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jun 14, 2006, 01:06

David Horowitz has been beating the conservative drum and fabricating misinformation about all those supposedly sinister �liberal� professors in American colleges and universities. His so-called �Academic Bill of Rights� is a blueprint for the extermination of open discussion and true academic freedom. As the American Association of University Professors put it, �the Academic Bill of Rights undermines the very academic freedom it claims to support.�

The Christian Right has, of course, embraced Horowitz�s efforts to squelch intellectual discussion and real academic freedom. Add to this a number of recent books by conservative writers that slam �liberalism� and �humanism� on college campuses � including David Kupelian�s The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom (�praised by Limbaugh, Schlessinger, Malkin�) and David Wheaton�s University of Destruction: Your Game Plan for Spiritual Victory on Campus (promoted by James Dobson�s Focus on the Family syndicate) � and you have enough smoke and mirrors to hide what�s going on in evangelical Christian home-schooling and at a Christian college meant to give those home-schooled students a direct pipeline into politics . . . ultra-conservative theocratic politics.

Everyone is aware of Jerry Falwell�s Liberty University and similar high-profile �Christian� institutions, where education is governed by the Bible and conservative politics. Most are aware of the Southern Baptist Convention�s �exit strategy� that advocates removing students from �godless� public schools and home-school them in the way of theo-conservatism. But how many are aware of Patrick Henry College?

David D. Kirkpatrick�s March 8, 2004, article for The New York Times � �College for the Home-Schooled Is Shaping Leaders for the Right� � began the expos�:

PURCELLVILLE, Va. - As one of 12 siblings taught at home by their parents in St. Croix Falls, Wis., Abram Olmstead knew he would fit right in at Patrick Henry College, the first college primarily for evangelical Christian home-schoolers. But what really sold him was the school�s pipeline into conservative politics.

Of the nearly 100 interns working in the White House this semester, 7 are from the roughly 240 students enrolled in the four-year-old Patrick Henry College, in Purcellville. An eighth intern works for the president�s re-election campaign. A former Patrick Henry intern now works on the paid staff of the president�s top political adviser, Karl Rove. Over the last four years, 22 conservative members of Congress have employed one or more Patrick Henry interns in their offices or on their campaigns, according to the school�s records.

Interesting that so many students from an unaccredited institution � which Patrick Henry College still is � end up with such prized internships, isn�t it?

Between then and now, Falwell launched Liberty University�s law school:

Mission Statement

Liberty University School of Law exists to equip future leaders in law with a superior legal education in fidelity to the Christian faith expressed through the Holy Scriptures.

This vision animates and drives all that we do, as we aim to:

1. Equip future leaders in law. Inspiring students and preparing them to excel and lead in their profession.

2. With a superior legal education. Constructing and implementing an education characterized by excellence.

3. In fidelity to the Christian faith. Adhering to the perspective that shaped the Western Legal Tradition.

4. Expressed through the Holy Scriptures. Pursuing truth in a context of free thought and expression informed by a standard.

The purpose of Liberty University School of Law is to prepare its students to think, analyze, and communicate through the analytical grid of a comprehensive Christian worldview. In so doing, the School of Law aspires to produce graduates who are clear thinkers, skilled legal practitioners, and morally responsible leaders of society.

And given who dictates everything at Liberty University,

The Bible is the inerrant . . . word of the living God. It is absolutely infallible, without error in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as well as in areas such as geography, science, history, etc. �Jerry Falwell

the theocratic agenda and purpose of the �law school� are all the more obvious.

Between then and now, Horowitz launched his campaign against American colleges and universities that teach things other than the �biblical worldview� which arrested, indicted and discredited Falwellian hero Tom DeLay was intent on embedding into American law and government. Patrick Henry College is dedicated to the Falwell-DeLay agenda:

The Mission of Patrick Henry College is to prepare Christian men and women who will lead our nation and shape our culture with timeless biblical values and fidelity to the spirit of the American founding. Educating students according to a classical liberal arts curriculum, and training them with apprenticeship methodology, the College provides academically excellent baccalaureate level higher education with a biblical worldview.

The Vision of Patrick Henry College is to aid in the transformation of American society by training Christian students to serve God and mankind with a passion for righteousness, justice and mercy, through careers of public service and cultural influence.

�The classical liberal arts curriculum� contains non-Christian writers and thinkers who did not share the �biblical world view,� which Patrick Henry College defines at great length beginning with �The Holy Scriptures. The Bible in its entirety (all 66 books of the Old and New Testaments) is the inspired word of God, inerrant in its original manuscripts . . ." Sound like Falwell�s statement to you?

Some of the greatest thinkers in history did not subscribe to the �biblical worldview.� Socrates, Plato and Aristotle come immediately to mind, as do many of the greatest names in literature, philosophy, and the arts. Are they and their non-biblical ideas included in PHC�s curriculum? And what about �academic freedom� and the unfettered pursuit of knowledge?

Christian school reins in academic freedom, professors say: Rebellion at Patrick Henry College reflects tension between liberal arts classes and biblical worldview
By Michael Alison Chandler
Washington Post

WASHINGTON - Nearly a third of the faculty members at Patrick Henry College in northern Virginia are leaving the school because of what they described as limitations on their academic freedom . . .

In one case, the professors said, faculty members were reprimanded for writing that the Bible �is not the only source of truth.�

�I�m leaving the college because I want freedom,� said David Noe, assistant professor of classics. He said he came to Patrick Henry in its first year expecting to find �a liberal arts college that will be the new Ivy League� � as the school bills itself � but instead found a place where classical works by non-Christian authors were sometimes considered suspect . . .

But Noe and government instructor Erik S. Root, who is also leaving, said they had encountered additional �arbitrary limitations� set by the president . . .

Root said his contract was temporarily withdrawn this spring in part because of an article he wrote for a school publication about a Christian saint that prompted the president to question his loyalty to a biblical worldview. In a letter to Root, Farris questioned whether Root shared the views of a Darwinist he had quoted. Root called Farris� concerns �guilt by association.�

Noe cowrote an article in March arguing that the Bible was not the only source of truth and that students could learn valuable lessons from non-Christian writings. The 900-word story led to a 2,600-word response by the chaplain � endorsed by the administration � detailing its �harmful implications� and saying it �diminished the importance of� Scripture. . . .

The college has ambitions to place conservative Christian graduates in positions of influence, where they will help reshape American culture. . . .

A liberal arts education, critical thinking and knowledge are not the goals. Political power is. Theocratizing America is. Patrick Henry College�s statement on �academic freedom� acknowledges that:

Professors at Patrick Henry College sign a statement of faith as a requirement of employment. This practice might suggest to some that our professors give up academic freedom when they sign the PHC statement of faith. The unstated assumption embedded in such a claim is that academic freedom is an intrinsically good thing and policies that compromise this freedom are undesirable. Fair enough. Most people agree that academic freedom is good. But this only raises an obvious question, namely, what exactly is academic freedom?

At first blush, academic freedom would appear to mean the freedom of those holding academic posts to conduct research and teach the subject of their expertise in whatever way they see fit. The imposition of any guidelines that restrict the freedom of the scholar are undesirable, for restrictions serve to stifle creativity and silence challenges to the current orthodoxy, challenges that, as we have seen throughout history, ought to be heard. If this is what academic freedom means, then religious colleges that require faculty to sign faith statements do indeed appear to limit academic freedom.

But perhaps academic freedom should be understood in another sense. What if we define academic freedom as the freedom for scholars holding similar worldviews to associate and in so doing to form a community of scholars actively pursuing truth in a collegial and cooperative fashion? Academic freedom in this sense seeks to step back from the radically individualized conception in the first definition in favor of a view that emphasizes community and cooperation. . . .

The sophistry and contradiction in the statement are obvious: such an incestuous group of �scholars� pursue only their own theocratic �truth� without concern for anything else. Given that, it makes sense PHC would deem the statement �that the Bible �is not the only source of truth�� dangerous and heretical. In the glorious days when dogmatic Christianity was married to civil government, people making such claims were the main attraction at an auto de fe.

Perhaps the reason so many professors at accredited colleges and universities are �liberal� is that they like to think for themselves and question authority rather than vegetate in the intellectual coma called �religious dogma.�

A well-known creationist group is now offering an online master�s program for science teachers. Through the Internet-based curriculum, the California-based Institute for Creation Research (ICR) is hoping to reach out to more educators and create a network of science teachers . . .

Dr. Nason [chair of ICR�s �Science Education� Department] says the Institute�s online science education master�s degree program is designed to help science teachers �communicate the truths of biblical creation to middle and high school students.� All the courses in the program approach the content in the same way that ICR researchers approach the study of origins, she asserts � that is, if an idea is contrary to God�s Word, it is false.

What�s the purpose of teaching students that the earth is 6,000 years old and dinosaurs were passengers on Noah�s ark, when all scientific knowledge definitively contradicts that with undeniable hard evidence? Could it be to create a theocratic state where knowledge and learning are not welcome? Could those advocating replacing science with Genesis have any real concern for �education�? Or are they simply looking to increase their social and political control?

Horowitz et al yammer about taxpayer money going to colleges and universities where all those supposedly sinister �liberal� professors teach. One has to wonder if any taxpayer money makes its way to Patrick Henry College, the sole purpose of which is to train close-minded, ultra-conservative theocrats.

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