Jason discusses a Time article on Azusa Pacific University (APU), an evangleical Christian university in California attempting to challenge “the stereotypes of evangelical colleges as weak academically and ultraconservative socially.” As Jason points out, biology professor Jon Milhon’s half-hearted introduction to Darwin’s evolutionary theory needs to be interrogated. To be fair, at the evangelical college I attended, the biology professor actually taught evolution relatively straight, without snide comments about Darwin’s faith. Still, in an environment where George W. Bush is pushing faith-based initiatives and further blurring the lines between church and state, the academic missions of these colleges need to be carefully considered.
I would point out, from personal experience, that the article’s discussion of evangelical colleges glosses how politically and socially homogeneous many of these campuses are. Class discussion invariably starts from a very specific worldview, one that regards some questions as “dangerous,” which often had the result of making me feel alienated from most of my fellow students and unable to be open about my (then moderately liberal) politics on campus. More than anything, my experience was that the campus’s insularity prevented any real confrontation with difference, and for the most part, the article ignores that dynamic almost completely.
Update, 11:15 PM: I’ve been struggling with this entry for most of the evening (I even thought about deleting it), in part because I feel like my experience at an evangelical college may have been unusual; I’m hesitant to make any general claims based on anecdotal evidence; and I don’t think these colleges are nearly as simple politically or socially as I’ve described them. But I do think that by focusing solely on one evangelical college and limiting interviews to people who generally support the university’s goals (APU students and professors), the article only gives us a limited part of the story.