Penn Prof: Religious Colleges Should Not Be Accredited

University of Pennsylvania professor Peter Conn says at the Chronicle of Higher Education that religious colleges (presumably meaning only conservative Christian colleges) should not receive accreditation. Conn:

Providing accreditation to colleges like Wheaton makes a mockery of whatever academic and intellectual standards the process of accreditation is supposed to uphold. If accrediting agencies are playing by the rules in this continuing fiasco, then the rules have to be changed—or interpreted more aggressively, so that “respect” for “belief systems” does not entail approving the subversion of our core academic mission by this or that species of dogma.

There’s much to say about this remarkable piece, which I trust (hope?) even most secular academic leaders would not affirm. Conn seems not to be aware that taking away the role of faith would gut the history of American higher education (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Notre Dame, etc.), and that even his own institution once taught the superiority of Christianity as a religion. Conn also seems not to be conversant with the postmodern turn, which has demonstrated how deeply ideological even “science” and “rationality” are. No one, especially someone like Conn, is free of ideology.

In any case, read my Baylor colleague Alan Jacobs’ powerful response to Conn, as well as Rod Dreher’s analysis of Conn and Jacobs.

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  • Everyone is religious in their own way, possesses a faith in something/someone, and worships a mystery with reverence. Science and rationality are not excluded.

    P.S. My new blog:

  • Marta L.

    For what it’s worth I’ve seen a fair number of secular (or at least not-specifically-religious – mainstream academics without an affiliation to religious groups that I can see) arguing that this is hogwash. Among other things, it shows a remarkably poor understanding of how faith and reason have coexisted throughout the history of religious history. As a medievalist I’d point to Aquinas, Maimonides, and Avicenna as people who have argued that being religious is no bar to critical rigorous thought, both on theology and more generally. I’m sure others could point to other figures.

  • Preston Garrison

    I’ve been expecting that in addition to this sort of nonsense, the academic left will soon insist that students shouldn’t be admitted to state universities unless they sign off on a list of “politically correct” beliefs. Ideologies are about power, and the power to marginalize and exclude is central to them. They tend to go worse places than that eventually.