Here’s how you know the college you go to is a really shitty one: Administrators force faculty members to sign pledges that they won’t teach real science.
That’s what’s happening right now at Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because it’s named after William Jennings Bryan who defended Creationism in the Scopes Money Trial nearly a century ago.
The current Statement of Faith that professors at the school must adhere to says this:
[We believe] that the origin of man was by fiat of God in the act of creation as related in the Book of Genesis; that he was created in the image of God; that he sinned and thereby incurred physical and spiritual death;
If you believe in theistic evolution — that God started the process but evolution took over after that — you could twist that statement to suit your needs.
But on Friday, school officials told faculty members they had to sign a clarification to that statement, one that would eliminate theistic evolution as a possible interpretation:
“We believe that all humanity is descended from Adam and Eve. They are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life forms.”
Creationism or bust. So much for academic integrity.
“This is an educational institution. In order for us to do our jobs, we have to be open to a variety of positions on things and many people would see this as a narrowing of a position that doesn’t need to be narrowed,” said John Carpenter, a journalism professor at Bryan.
There’s a petition against the change written by student leaders on campus, but it’s not really against Creationism as much as it is against the school forcing faculty members to take a particular stand on an issue that’s not essential to being a Christian:
We believe that though the change has been largely billed as a clarification, professors who came in under the old statement of faith — having made no secret of their theological distinctives — will lose their jobs. We believe that it is unjust that professors who gained tenure, published research, and served faithfully under this old statement of faith will be either fired or be forced to choose between violating their consciences or providing for their families.
According to one article about the controversy, the change may have been prompted by Creationist Ken Ham arguing that colleges like Bryan are compromising “God’s word in Genesis” by not adhering strictly to a six-day magic trick.
I know this won’t reach the potential students who need to see it, but this is precisely why you shouldn’t go to a Christian college. By requiring you to adhere to a Statement of Faith, whatever it says, there’s simply no room for flexibility if you ever have doubts or you want to challenge long-held beliefs. Not all Christian schools require you to preach Creationism like Bryan is about to, but college should be a place where students are made to think critically about their beliefs. Bryan administrators are telling these faculty members not to challenge them at all — the Bible says it so there’s no room to question it. It’s the opposite of preparing them for the real world. Instead, Bryan College is billing itself as the place to go if you want to remain in a Christian Bubble for life.
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