The movement to expel Christian values from private universities is quickly gaining momentum.
In March, 33 current and former students of 26 religious universities across the United States filed a lawsuit against the Department of Education in an effort to block federal funding to students at religious universities. The desired result of the case is clear: put an end to faithful religious institutions.
These students—represented by LGBTQ activist group Religious Exemption Accountability Project (REAP)—are demanding that religious universities reject core doctrines on marriage, sexuality, and gender. If these universities refuse, REAP argues that their students shouldn’t be able to receive federal financial aid. The effects of this shouldn’t be understated: Without such aid, ten of thousands of Christians will not receive the education and community they seek in higher education.
REAP’s self-proclaimed mission is to “Sabotage Christian Supremacy.” And it is apparent that this organization views Christian universities as dispensable.
We are forced to conclude that the goal of REAP, and other groups like it, is to entirely do away with Christian colleges. Without the ability to operate according to their beliefs, the demand for Christian higher education would drastically decrease and many existing colleges would be forced to close their doors.
The question is: Will the world be negatively impacted by the elimination of Christian universities? The answer is certainly yes.
At its core, Christian higher education is rooted in service. Many Christian colleges require students to participate in community outreach during their undergraduate years. Moreover, many, if not all, Christian colleges foster and maintain relationships with organizations that exist to serve the greater community.
The 26 religious colleges that are maligned in this lawsuit are involved in countless outreach programs and offer thousands of service hours each year to their communities. Whether it is through serving veterans, feeding the homeless, or volunteering to help underprivileged youth, the faith of Christian colleges moves them to serve their communities.
There is abundant evidence of the good charitable work of religious institutions, arguably work that would not otherwise get done. To list a few examples:
· Since 2002, Lipscomb University presents more than 3,000 service hours in just one single day each year. Their outreach consists of serving various organizations around Nashville, Tennessee ranging from nonprofit groups to elementary schools.
· Brigham Young University in Provo connects students with over 25 organizations to serve during their college years and beyond. Among others, BYU students serve through 4-H mentoring, Habitat for Humanity, and Red Cross Services.
· Colorado Christian University’s longest standing student organization, Sojourners, dedicates Thursday evenings to the homeless population of Denver through meals and friendship.
These examples are just a glimpse of the impact that religious universities are making across the nation.
Yet, REAP and others are determined to ignore these facts, just as they are determined to ignore the voices of millions of students who choose to attend these religious institutions because they share their beliefs.
Religious higher education matters. It matters not only to students and professors, but also to the world that faith-based colleges and their graduates serve.
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