Social Issues

thoughts on conservative Christian colleges from a Liberty graduate

There’s a bit of a hubbub happening this week over a certain announcement made during Liberty University’s convocation on Monday. If you don’t travel in the circles who are all abuzz about it, here’s the gist: Ted Cruz is the first Republican to formally announce his candidacy for the 2016 election, and he did it at Liberty, in front of an audience of thousands of college students. That’s not the newsworthy part, though– what has caught everyone’s attention is that this audience was a literally captive one. Liberty students who live in the on-campus dormitories are required to attend convocation (Liberty’s word for “chapel”), or they are fined. And some were not happy about being forced to attend a political rally.

I’ve never hidden the fact that I attended Liberty University for graduate school. In fact, on the whole, I believe my experience was a positive one, although I feel that way with certain caveats. I attended graduate school there, and therefore my experience was vastly different from anyone earning a bachelor’s. The English graduate department is, I believe, filled with highly competent professors and the academic environment is open to discussing anything (although I can only speak for the English department). While, if I had the opportunity to retcon my life I would never attend Pensacola Christian College or Liberty University, I do very much feel that Liberty was an excellent stepping stone in my life. It was good for me for where I was at the time– I was in an environment where my fundamentalist-indoctrinated brain/heart felt safe, but I was encouraged by my professors at every turn to get outside of that box.

However, there are some aspects about being a Liberty graduate that are … difficult. I’ve encountered HR professionals who claim that any resumé with “Liberty University” on it will go straight into the garbage– I’ve been personally turned down for things because of the colleges I have to list on mine. I’ve seriously considered paying for another graduate degree from a more respectable university and just removing PCC or LU from anything professional.

Because that’s the problem. Liberty University just isn’t respectable in most places, and they’re not doing graduates like me any favors when they invite people like Ted Cruz to speak during a mandatory event. It’s still very much Jerry Falwell’s school. I have been yelled at– actually yelled at– for daring to criticize some of Jerry’s more bigoted and hateful statements (like blaming the LGBTQ community for 9/11). I didn’t even say the words “bigoted” and “hateful”– I said they were “ridiculous” and got yelled at. By a professor. Not a professor I ever studied under, but still.

However, this whole situation is not entirely Liberty’s fault. Liberty is a conservative Christian college. It just is, and I don’t have a problem with the existence of conservative Christian higher education. They fill a certain niche desire, and I’m not going to fault conservative Christian parents or students for wanting to find a place that fits their ideology– after all, many people from all walks of life at least partly evaluate colleges and whether or not they want to attend based on questions like “does this institution align with my values?” The prioritization may change depending on the individual, but I know I look at places like the University of Michigan and think I want to go to there because of their reputation for student activism and an anti-military/industrial stance.

What does anger me are people who say things like “if I see a Liberty university graduate’s resumé, I won’t even consider them.” I went to Liberty University, and guess what? I’m a liberal, pro-choice feminist with socialist-considering-Marxism political tendencies. I think the Democratic party isn’t liberal enough. I’m almost of the opinion that capitalism (at least in its current cis-hetero-white-supremacist-patriarchal incarnation) is evil. Most conservative Christians would point at pretty much any thing I think about God, the Bible, and Jesus and start screaming “heretic!” and “burn her!”

I went to Liberty because of the circumstances of my life at the time. I enjoyed my experience there, and I, personally, learned a lot. It’s where I became a feminist, it’s where I started questioning biblical literalism. It’s where I took a class in dystopian literature and realized that books written by non-white dudes are spectacularly awesome. It’s where my Romantic literature professor asked me to read Frankenstein through a post-modern lens. It’s where another professor got so happy he cried when I was the first student he’d ever had to truly get the effect that Derrida had on Christian theology (we can thank fundamentalism for that one. I read Derrida like an Enlightenment-educated person would have in the 60s).

So for every person who mocks and dismisses and belittles anyone who graduates from a conservative Christian college, you can take your ignorance and condescension and shove it.

 Photo by Taber Bain
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  • E

    Loved getting to read this- I have a friend in his first year at Liberty and I’ve developed something of a morbid curiosity about that school.

    • It’s an … interesting place, that’s for sure. I don’t recommend it to people (for reasons like mandatory attendance at “convo” (their abbreviation for “convocation”), but there are much worse schools, and some departments are capable of giving their students a valuable education.

    • I went to a different conservative Christian college (which I have very similar feelings about–it was the right place then, but definitely not now), but I found Kevin Roose’s book about going undercover at Liberty rang true about the Christian college experience. Since I didn’t go to Liberty, I can’t say for certain he got it all completely right, but it was a fun read for me. You might like it, E. It’s called The Unlikely Disciple.

      • Interestingly enough, it’s how I found out about Liberty. I read it when I was looking for grad schools to apply to. Not very many colleges have grad programs that will accept PCC’s credits.

        • That’s really interesting that’s how you found out about their program. I’m not surprised that Liberty had good people in the English department. That’s how it was at my conservative Christian college (oh, why am I being coy–it was Toccoa Falls College in GA). The English department was easily the most “radical” (grading on a curve, naturally). I wasn’t aware of schools not accepting my credits, though, when I applied for grad school in English. But maybe the ones who rejected me just didn’t tell me that was the reason.

          • PCC isn’t accredited, so if Toccoa is that might be the difference.

          • Oh, that’s it. Did PCC ever have accreditation and then lose it? For some reason I thought I remembered hearing something like that. Toccoa was always struggling to keep their accreditation.

          • They recently received “accreditation” from a body that only works with tiny conservative Christian schools, but it’s a joke.

          • And I also see from Wikipedia that they never sought accreditation before that, worried they might be pressured to change their beliefs in some way. I must have been thinking about some other school that lost accreditation.

          • Real fact checker

            Yes they are accredited by TRACs

            https://www.google.com/search?q=pensacola+christian+college&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us&client=safari#hl=en-us&q=pensacola+christian+college+accreditation

            They have had it for three years now. PCC is a well respected school. I personally have not attended but I’m sure as you know they do provide a quality education.

            I’m sorry to drag up a year old thread but this ranks high when searching about Liberty and PCC.

          • LOL

            LOL

            *wipes tear*

            http://samanthapfield.com/2015/04/13/5-good-reasons-not-to-attend-pensacola-christian-college/

            They’re not regionally accredited or licensed by the state of Florida. TRACS doesn’t count. I’ve been applying to seminaries, and all of the ones I’ve applied to label PCC as “unaccredited” and many won’t admit me because of it (they’ll admit me if I fall under their “seminary candidate without traditional schooling but has valid life expereince, etc.”)

            Come back when you know something or have actual personal experience attending PCC and trying to apply to graduate school, seminary, or for jobs.

  • Kate

    I didn’t know Liberty had graduate programs. That’s interesting. I will admit to being pretty judge about conservative Christian educational institutions but you’ve made some very good points. Values did play a role my my educational choices and I shouldn’t begrudge other people that.

    • Their graduate programs are fairly limited, and some are hilariously awful (they have a law school, for example, and that’s just … oh it makes me laugh). The English department though, I have no complaints about. I’ve talked to a lot of graduates from English programs that are considered some of the best in the country and my experience as far as classes and work and the academic environment was similar.

      • Wow

        I’d be quite concerned about their law school. One of their professors, Phill Kline, was the state attorney general for Kansas before coming to Liberty. He was indefinitely suspended from practicing law in Kansas after he left office.

        http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article329802/Phill-Kline-is-indefinitely-suspended-from-practicing-law.html

        • Real fact checker

          As was President Obama in IL, yet he still taught. Should I be concerned about The University of Chicago?

          • For someone who’s using “Real Fact Checker” as their handle, you’re hilarious:

            http://www.factcheck.org/2012/06/the-obamas-law-licenses/

            No, the Obamas did not have his liscense to practice law suspended. He voluntarily gave up the privilege to practice law so he wouldn’t have to take continuing education classes or pay more fees. So. Go away.

      • Real fact checker

        Their law school is top notch as well as their medical school. They are a Carnige ranked research university btw and in five years will be Tier 1.

        • You do realize that R3 is the lowest possible ranking in the Carnegie system?

          • Real fact checker

            Do you have any idea what it takes to even get listed? They will be tier 1 in five years. They hold every type of top level accreditation a school can hold yet you act as though they are sub par (except their english department lol) You really hate these two schools don’t you? Why did you go to liberty again? A quick search of linkedin shows tons of people with undergrad degrees from tracs accreditation holding schools who have attended some pretty good grad schools. The Heta directory listed hundreds of schools that accept their credits. Heta is expired but all of those schools did not stop accepting their credits over night. I know you hate the right but is that any reason to go from one extreme to the other. I know pcc is far from perfect but it’s the way people attending want it to be no matter the way you feel. No one is forced to attend. At age 18 in this fine country you can do as you please.

          • No, I did NOT have a choice about where I went to college. You are so ignorant about my life but I’ll explain it to you briefly.

            I was raised in a cult. My church and my parents held to an ideology called the “Stay at Home Daugher” movement, which prohibits college education for women.

            The ONLY way I was able to attend college at all was because PCC was a fundamentalist Christian school 45 minutes away from my house. My father agreed that if I came home on the weekends and attend our cult of a church that I’d still be under the “umbrella of his authority.”

            As an 18 year old raised in this culture, I didn’t have the freedom to go anywhere I wanted. You are foolish if you think otherwise. Dear god I was still being BEATEN by my parents at 18.

            When I graduated from PCC in 2010 they didn’t even have the TRACS “accreditation”. I actually know the people who evaluate schools for TRACS and the process is completely ridiculous. Look up the requirements for TRACS and if you don’t think those are bullshit standards for a college (like forcing everyone in your faculty to adhere to a specific ideology) then you’re beyond help.

          • Concerning your claim that LinkedIn profiles somehow prove that students from TRACS-accredited schools move on to “some pretty good graduate schools” (which I’m not going to accept on face value because you’ve already demonstrated a low regard for actual facts) — that claim actually “proves” nothing.

            My sister graduated from PCC after they were “accredited” by TRACS, and she now also has a degree from “a pretty good school”– guess how she got it? By completely starting over. She had to retake most classes and it took years.

            Continue to argue with bad facts and in bad faith and I’ll delete your comments.

          • Real fact checker

            Delete my comets if you please. I have a DEAC accredited degree and although I have found my choices limited in no way did I hit a wall. I was abused by my father daily and I made the choice to no longer be the victim. You claim to be a feminist and a person who fights for our causes yet you a so iron willed you will only see what you want to see.

  • I shudder at the thought of teaching or learning Biology there.

  • I guess my question would be whether they throw out the resume because they don’t like conservative Christians or whether they do because they don’t think LU provides a good enough education to do the job (which could include if there is an element of conservative Christianity that stops them from doing the job well).

    There’s a school called Tyndale in Toronto which has grown massively in the past 10 or 15 years. They’re more moderate evangelical with a wide range in that category, but they’ve become the default place for many Christians in Ontario to go to school simply because it is a Christian institution. I know people who have gone there in both undergrad and graduate programs, and there’s definitely some good things to be said about them – strong sense of community, really flexible with class schedules allowing for distance or night classes, etc. But to meander around to my point, they do not have a good reputation when it comes to academics – not that they teach things wrongly, just not with nearly as much depth as other schools. I’ve even heard one of their students say you probably shouldn’t go there unless you wanted to be an evangelical pastor or counsellor, even though they offer other programs. I wouldn’t be surprised if some employers looking at resumes quickly discarded applicants from there for that reason.

    Another comparison would be the recent drama in Canada over Trinity Western’s new law school. In short, some law societies wanted to deny accreditation to its students because of some requirements to be a student there which are questionably constitutional (no sex outside of hetero marriage, mainly). There were concerns that its graduates would not adequately defend the law on matters like same-sex marriage, legal here for a long time and nobody is going to bring up that fight again. TW ultimately won out – since it is mostly privately funded, they can force their students into that code of conduct and law societies can’t ban their students over it when the program was deemed to adequately teach law. Were the law societies genuinely concerned that those graduates couldn’t do a good job, or were they just biased against conservative Christians? Hard to say.

    • That could be a valid question for things like law or, like opinemine mentioned, biology– but I’ve been turned down for writing/editorial opportunities because of this, and it had more to do with what sort of political/religious positions they thought I hold. And what about things like accounting? There’s plenty of programs where it’s just a skill set– and sure, you might not be taught that skill set very well– but plenty of colleges (like University of Phoenix, for example) that might equally suck that have nothing to do with ideology.

      Also, most of the time when I’m seeing/hearing these sorts of comments, it’s almost totally along the lines of “what d’ya expect from a bunch of bigoted Christians?” which assumes a lot about the students who attend places like Liberty. I knew a Wiccan at PCC, and a radical feminist at Liberty.

      [edited: I do think it’s important to note that Ted Cruz went to Harvard Law, and he’s as bigoted as they come.]

      • A Wiccan at PCC? From the other things you’ve said about it, I’m kind of surprised they didn’t expel her for not attending chapel or something similar.

        • It’s almost impossible not to attend chapel at PCC. You can’t leave campus on foot without someone seeing, you can’t take your car off campus without it being noted (your car is assigned a parking spot, and the security guards count all the cars), and they check in all the closets/under the beds/in the showers for anyone trying to stay in the dorms during chapel. You’re also assigned a seat for chapel and there are “row monitors” who count heads and turn in their attendance cards every day.

          She did eventually get expelled, but it took them a while to give her enough demerits where they could justify her just not “catching the spirit” (which, yes, was a rule violation while I was there).

          • That’s incredible. It sounds like the exact plot of “Order of the Phoenix.”

          • The first time I saw TOotP, I just sat there and gaped at it because every single one of the rules she created exist in an exact or similar form at PCC.

      • Mangosteen

        Could be a valid question for things like law. But keep in mind that this is BC – much of the faculty and student body are very pro-gay rights. This is an issue between the donors/administration and the law.

    • I’m a TWU grad–I did a BA and an MA in the linguistics department there, which was a mostly good fit for me (a little more skewed towards Bible translation than I eventually wanted to be, but when I started my degree I thought that’s what I’d be doing). If I do a Ph.D. at some point, I will be choosing a secular school for a variety of reasons (including cost–Trinity is horrendously expensive for a Canadian university). I was at TWU for so many years that I think it’s impossible for me to have unmixed feelings about it.

      It can be a really great place with a good community, and many of the degree programs are really good, but I do disagree with a lot of the community standards, partly because I think they need to treat their students like adults who are capable of rational thought, and partly because I’m Anglican (formerly Lutheran, so not exactly in the evangelical camp), so some of the theological points they make you sign off on are things that I disagree with. They loosened a lot of the standards in my first few years there–dancing between students of the opposite gender is now allowed on campus (same sex dancing was okay before), drinking in moderation is acceptable off-campus (I don’t disagree with the dry campus rules because it’s such a small school, it’s simpler for them not to have to deal with that kind of liability), and illegal drug use is a no. They were also really inconsistent about how the community standards were applied–some students got away with murder (not literally) while others would get photographed at a party, but not drinking, and get hauled in front of a disciplinary board. At least chapel wasn’t mandatory. For me, much of the time, it felt like a fairly safe place to do some of my growing up.

      I was one of the former students who wasn’t entirely happy about the law school. I disagree with the school’s stance on homosexuality, and as gay marriage is legal, I don’t really think it’s okay for them to ban it. It’s not like there aren’t gay students at the school, after all. I do think religious freedom is important, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of others’ rights.

      • TWU Texas Womens University?

        • Mangosteen

          TWU = Trinity Western University. As one who did my masters degree there, they are not a Liberty University by any means. They are closer to a Baylor, without Baylor’s reputation. This doesn’t excuse the bigotry by any means, because their bigotry is wrong. But just by viewing their speakers and ongoing conferences, it is obvious that they welcome liberal ideas, and a couple faculty have vocally spoken against Trinity’s stance on gays and many more would if they didn’t fear the losing their job. I could say so much more, about how liberal the faculty were that I encountered in my specific major, but I’m not on a public blog.
          I went to TWU for various reasons (most notably that they gave me almost a full scholarship and it + TAship that paid for the rest, and since I switched majors between undergrad and grad, their funding package was better than just about everywhere else). I don’t know if I could do it all over again if I would do it any different because it financially worked out for me. If I could do it all over again, I would do my UG over again because then I might have landed a better MA program. And so it goes.

      • GRA

        >>I do think religious freedom is important, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of others’ rights.

        Define “rights.”

  • “…you can take your ignorance and condescension and shove it.”
    I really wouldn’t end a sermon with this, and I get the fact that you are frustrated and angry.
    I would also imagine that there are some truly great kids who go to Liberty University.
    Liberty University has a reputation among mainline Protestant, Catholic, and secular people as a particularly intolerant and narrow minded place.
    And after reading your essay, I believe you that the graduate English department is comparable to a more mainline campus English department.
    Let me suggest that you attach a cover letter to your resume, explaining what you have noted here about that degree from Liberty University.
    Sorry, but Liberty University earned its reputation. And most folks see it as an intolerant and narrow-minded place. In fact, I think that is the image that Liberty University has cultivated. So there.
    As a Presbyterian, who has been condemned by Southern Baptists and my denomination slandered by Rev. Falwell, Sr. I wouldn’t want a graduate of Liberty University as an associate in any ministry I follow or work with.
    Speaking as a Christian, I hope that your study there and the community there brought you closer to God.
    I was glad to read your essay.
    All the best to you in the future.
    Paul Frazier

    • Well, this isn’t a sermon, so … (also, I don’t think I’d use “so there,” either, so I’m not entirely sure why you’ve even bothered to point this out.)

      Also, I didn’t argue that Liberty hasn’t done anything to earn this reputation– in fact, I openly acknowledged that it both has and continues to do so. However, your attitude of “I wouldn’t want a graduate of Liberty University as an associate in any ministry I follow or work with” is exactly the problem I’m talking about in this post. Liberty University and its students are not the same thing and they should be evaluated accordingly. That you seem willing to completely dismiss people like me for no other reason than the college we attended is … frustrating. Why don’t you give us a chance? If it turns out they’re narrow-minded bigots, great, fine, don’t work with them, but this dismissive attitude doesn’t seem very Christ-like to me.

  • I’m a UMich grad– go blue! From how you describe yourself, it’s definitely your kinda place (as is the town of Ann Arbor). But yeah, it’s ridiculous to ding someone entirely for having gone to Liberty (PCC is maybe a little different, because it’s not accredited). If I were considering hiring a Liberty grad (and I work in progressive nonprofits, so it would be odd they even applied in most cases), I’d just ask them a little about their experience, if anything.

    • Go Blue!

      My partner is a Michigan grad and grew up in Ann Arbor. We go home a few times a year and I’d sell my eye teeth for the chance to live there.

  • Erin

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Not only did I attend LU, I still live in Lynchburg, where most of the population thinks they know everything about you if you graduated from LU. I teach Biology, and it is well-known in the community that many principals won’t hire LU grads in any science. I am also sort of terrified of my grad school prospects — I know there are many programs that won’t even consider you if your undergrad degree is from Liberty. Like you, I am a feminist liberal with socialist leanings. I have no love or respect for most of what LU stands for; in fact, I think many of their political and social positions are antithetical to what Jesus actually taught. LU is a place that worships money, power, and control, not Jesus. For all of its problems, though, I am incredibly thankful to LU. Their generosity made it possible for me to attend college. Really wonderful people supported me through some incredibly difficult experiences. I hate being embarrassed by my alma mater the way I was yesterday. LU has earned their reputation fairly, but I wish people understood that not all LU grads are Falwell puppets.

    • This is a good point (sorry for the late reaction)–they provide a TON of scholarships to attract students with strong academic merit.

  • I hope many people see, read, and truly take to heart this post. I don’t know that I’d ever dismiss anyone based on where they went to school from a “I sometimes get to hire” standpoint, but know that I may accidentally go into an interview with a strong bias if I saw certain schools (like Liberty or as you mentioned in comments University of Phoenix). Thank you for reminding me to keep my eyes and mind open.

  • I was denied acceptance to the museum studies program at Johns Hopkins because of my laughable “history” degree from PCC. I cried about it. There are very few schools who even have musuem studies type programs, never mind ones that will accept my degree, which makes the pool even smaller. When I think about it now it makes a lot of sense. Not just because it is unaccredited but because a degree in history from PCC is literally a joke. I didn’t learn anything except the same biased conservative political and historical drivel that I had already learned in high school with ABeka. I’m really quite embarrassed to even admit that I have a degree in history. I took one online graduate class from LU in education and I couldn’t take it anymore. Done with that. The search for a master’s program continues.

  • Angela

    I attended Brigham Young University and have had some similar experiences, some not. I don’t know of any instance where I was limited professionally, but then my program had a pretty solid reputation. I wouldn’t be surprised though if that prejudiced some employers. I also found that my professors were surprisingly open-minded (it was actually my nursing professors who changed my stance on abortion) and I do maintain that I received a first-rate education there. Yet, I do dread disclosing where I went to school because of false assumptions that people then make about me.

  • Lis

    As a Bob Jones University grad, let me add my sincere “Thank you!” for this to the pile.

  • Brennan

    A college friend of mine was raised fundamentalist and several of his friends went to LU for undergrad (it’s reasonably local to where I am). He told me something that surprised me: the kids from his (conservative, private, evangelical) high school who went to Liberty got a lot of flak from their high school because Liberty *wasn’t conservative enough.* It was considered a “lukewarm Christian school” by the high school administrators, and the only “real” Christian schools were places like Bob Jones. Ironically, my friend escaped criticism even though he went to a completely secular college, since at least our school wasn’t “pretending” to be Christian. I’ve never quite known what to make of that. I guess that criticism can come from all sides?

    • When I announced my decision to attend Liberty to some of my colleagues at PCC, one woman said “I’ll be praying for you that the Lord shows you his will”– the implication being that it just could not be God’s will for me to go to Liberty. When some of the administration found out, I got called into multiple dean’s offices and they all tried to convince me that leaving PCC for grad school was wrong. They couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to get a graduate degree from them, and my answer of “you don’t offer the program I want” (they only had master’s in education) seemed to baffle them.

      I couldn’t understand why “I want to get an English degree” was so confusing to them, because every time they’d respond with “but we offer an English education degree here…”

      When I told people at my church, all hell broke loose. My Sunday school teacher from when I was a kid was absolutely horrified that I’d go to such a “liberal party school.” She was convinced that all the dorms were co-ed and alcohol was permitted, which is … just sad. Anyway, yeah– there are many places where colleges like Baylor and Liberty and Cedarville and King’s College are all seen a wretched hives of scum and villainy.

      • Haha! Thanks for this (sorry for the late reaction). Being reminded of your story, your experiences, was a helpful point–as you say in your post, Liberty was a stepping stone for you. (I hope my previous post was not too unkind.)

    • Caroline M

      In high school I considered going to Covenant College, a conservative Presbyterian college near Chattanooga (if you’ve heard of it, we’ve probably met at Ridge Haven or something). They were proud of the fact that Tennassee Temple called them the “heathens on the hill.” There’s a lot of weird one-upmanship among Christian schools, and even some evangelical schools that brand themselves as the Christian college that’s not as crazy as PCC/BJU/Oral Roberts et all. It’s a bigger world inside than outside.

  • Alyson

    I got my bachelor’s from a Christian university. I don’t think it’s made me lose out on jobs because it’s always been rated highly by mainstream college reviewers, and I live in the Bible belt, but I don’t know for sure.

    My experience was mostly positive. “I was in an environment where my fundamentalist-indoctrinated brain/heart felt safe, but I was encouraged by my professors at every turn to get outside of that box.” describes my experience very well.

    Now by my senior year, I was tired of being required to sing, pray, and read the Bible so much. Ever since I was a small child, people were constantly shoving me and God together. I needed some distance and space to think about what I really believed and decide for myself what, if any, role Christianity would play in my life.

    Also, it is disturbing that LGBT students have to live in the closet or go to harmful so-called conversion therapy, or risk being expelled. Because of straight, cis privilege I was largely unaware of this while I was a student.

    My university had stricter rules than a mainstream one would, but it was nothing compared to many Christian schools. I cannot imagine going to a school where you are treated like a child and a prisoner.

    .

    • GRA

      >>Because of straight, cis privilege I was largely unaware of this while I was a student.

      Cis? You seriously used the word “cis” as some sort of legit sociological term.

      I can’t wait til I make up my own term so people like Alyson can use it with righteous indignation. It will get over 1, 000, 000 reblogs on tumblr.

      • You’ve lost, dude. The assumptions you used to be able to take for granted are never coming back, and no amount of sneering will change that.

      • “Cis” IS a legitimate term as is “trans”. If you have a problem with that than I also have a problem with you continuing to comment here.

  • On a related note, a while back there was a TWU grad who applied to be a guide for a wilderness company, and not only was her application rejected but the company wrote back ridiculing her education. In fairness, the FIRST thing they said was “you’re not qualified”(*) but then they went on to insult TWU and treat her badly because of their issues with the institution. I thought the whole thing was bizarre, especially since they’re not going to change anything by venting their anger at this girl, but who knows?

    Did you happen to see that or not? I bet I could find a link somewhere …

    (*) Which is debatable in my opinion, with possibly a gender-based double standard at play.

    • Mangosteen

      Yea, it.is.bad. what TWU graduates deal with right now, and what is ridiculous about it is TWU’s academic standards are high (except in the extension programs). Basically, the donors and money backing the institutions are made of bigots who are ruining things for all the students and faculty. Most protestant schools in the states probably are also bigot schools who do nothing about their bigotry. Canada just caught their protestant school because Canada, especially BC, is more progressive than the US. Anyway, as a TWU grad, I’m pretty frustrated. Very frustrated actually.

  • I was on track scholarship at Wayland Baptist in Texas. I didn’t find it hard to live under their rules, but they bugged me. This was before Title IX and in the dorms girls had a curfew, but boys didn’t. They said, “if they knew where the girls were they would know where the boys are.” Curfew for upper class girls (not women when you’re treated like a child) was 3am. First wife and I got so much more sleep our senior year after we were married. Something about a curfew that makes you wait until the last minute.
    Two things would get you kicked out. Drinking at any time, and having a member of the opposite sex in your dorm room. There were a lot of other rules and regulations that made it seem like a prison. And I hated chapel (only on Tuesdays and Thursdays). With the dreaded demerits if you missed them. Fifty demerits and you lost the semester’s credits. I graduated with 40 on my record.
    Went to Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth and it was serene, calm, and a wonderful place to study. Very few rules, at the time (Since the Fundies took over in the early 80’s its dropped from over 5000 students to under 1500) The policy of the seminary then was, “If you need rules for your conduct you need to rethink why you are here.”
    Never had a raised eyebrow over my BA degree. Baptist, Methodist, and Christian universities in Texas are the major teacher mills and are all nationally certified. If LU is nationally certified, and and you can document that someone refused to accept or hire based on their bias a civil action would be possible.
    When I read the comments and Samantha’s posts about the indoctrination instead of education you’ve suffered it breaks my heart. A Christian college doesn’t have to be like that, but since the Visigoths conquered the Southern Baptist Convention and other denominations that seems to be the order of the day. I am so glad the human spirit knows when its being cheated of knowledge and seeks it out independently like Order of the Phoenix. It is my favorite book in the HP series.

  • Thoughtful

    I can really relate to this post. I was homeschooled K-12 but have degrees from two secular universities. I never tell any of my co-workers that I was homeschooled growing up. People have so many stereotypes about homeschoolers. I wish I didn’t feel like I had to hide my background.

    When I was working on my master’s degree, I actually ran across someone I knew from high school homeschool group. She had just taken a job at my university. This was the first time I ever had a professional connection from high school.

    It was a very surreal experience to meet someone from my old homeschool group in a professional setting. It was neat we both made it out of our bubble. I felt a little sad that this was the first time I ever saw anyone I knew from high school at college. I think homeschooling can be a professional disadvantage since networking is so important today. I know some cities where the first question people ask upon meeting a new acquaintance is, “What high school did you go to?”

    • Funny, I feel the same about attending a Christian school for K5-12. I’ll meet someone from my hometown and wish I could say I went to a public high school, even though the ones in my town were pretty crummy academically.

  • Thoughtful, here’s a suggestion. In Addam’s Family Values, Morticia is asked what school she attended and she answered, “Private tutors.” Sounds a little more upscale than home schooled.

  • Writing and editing are pretty hard to break into. Quite a lot of people who hire into those positions have biases about style and mindset and prefer to recruit only from certain schools. They then are very snooty about any school that isn’t in their preferred subset. You might be hearing extra condescension because Liberty is a relatively “new” school as well as being a conservative Christian school.

    Engineering is very similar. Someone who used to hire engineers for a major manufacturer told me that his company only hired from five engineering schools, and that he would never have be hired as a newly-graduated engineer from his alma mater (Texas A&M) nowadays, since that is not one of the five. His company also has an odd prejudice against MIT graduates.

    Good luck. It’s a tough environment for English majors!

  • It’s so interesting to hear about everyone’s experiences at conservative Christian university, especially those of you who attended TWU. I got my undergrad in English Lit from Ambrose University (Calgary, Canada), which is Christian and Missionary Alliance/Church of the Nazarene affiliated (used to be Canadian Bible College in Regina), and I’ve never had anyone judge me based on where I got my degree, even when I say that it’s a private Christian school. The English and Philosophy faculties at Ambrose are where I learned to be a feminist and a supporter of gay rights! I’ve also been accepted into the law school at the University of Calgary for this fall, so clearly they weren’t too bothered by it either.

    Unfortunately I can totally see how someone who’s not white and cisgendered and heterosexual (like me) would have a negative experience at Ambrose. I had classmates who felt it was a racist and homophobic environment, and I definitely encountered some misogynist attitudes toward women. But generally those were from other students, not professors. I felt that the professors were really good at gently urging those with fundamentalist attitudes to reconsider.

    I think probably I was fairly lucky. But I appreciated my Christian university experience a lot.

  • Nishi Hundan

    You’re hot

  • Joy Mcguire

    Greetings from Canada. I enjoyed reading your essay. I however, am not writing this comment to fully interject any of my person thoughts onto your expose. What I do wish to convey, if I may at the least attempt to utilize some form of a polite word prior to what I may expect others may see as a rant,and a personal one at that. My story is lengthy , and highly fraught with personal pain. I am the first born daughter of a family of six kids. My parents were devout Christians, both having found Christ while they themselves were in their youth, so previous family generations did not have a bearing on their choice of faith ,and means of which they practiced it. I was born in Montreal, and eventually our family of eight moved to Raleigh North Carolina. My mother was delighted, as Canada was becoming a much more secular society, and my mother had believed that she was to be moving to the great bible best of the southern United States. In Canada, we were member at a good church. Certainly, a bit less conservative than what we believed the southern u.s. was to be. An example would be that rock music, a beer, etc, were not going to send one to hell. My mother was as strict as they came, dad was professional electrical engineer. This was a well respected profession in Canada, and thereby,was also sought by in our new home in n.c. So we embarked on our adventure. We loved the hot humid seasons, we lived a highly coveted and comfortable lifestyle, and could not figure out why more Americans did not live so lavishly. Why were they not well educated. We were wasps, and seemingly fit in well in our community. We found a lovely church, and since in Canada did not have middle school where I was from, I was so overwhelmed at the public school, I begged my parents to place me in the Christian school of which some of my new peers at church went to. I was not fully aware of the extent of the racial issues in the south, and did not realize that Christian school was code for white. I had a lot to learn , like the church people whom smoked outside the church….but, I learned it was part of the economy.
    After some time, my folks found some rather uncomfortable issues with this first church we went to. Not with the congregation, whom, we still keep in touch with today. Yet the minister, had a wee issue with humility. Then we went to several other churches, all with in the type of evangelical, some more fundamentalist than others, yet my folks could never sincerely find a real Christ and bible centred church with meaningful fellowship, with other true and sincere Christians. Not just Sunday Christians. Not just the the we do not dance, drink etc such and such group. They wanted real people with a true fellowship with Christ, and their fellow men..and women in Christ.

    My father was an avid traveller. One summer, in six weeks , all eight of us traversed about 25 states, and he loved to visit American history sites. On several occasions we would go up to Virginia ,first to visit Thomas road baptist church, which I think my mom did enjoy, and then, of course, the major historical sites nearby. I also went to visit Liberty college,for a high school weekend , and found it quite enjoyable. I found it odd that one could not even listen to soar rock in the dorms though. I also was not as yet too concerned about my future educations, as it was somewhat. Thought that I would get my Mrs.
    Soon thereafter, our family, my parents especially, but I also recall missing my native land. The Bible Belt was not what is really was, at least to my folks. My father also had an opportunity to meet with mr jerry Falwell in Raleigh, while he was meeting some area’ business types’, mr Falwell was repeating ly speaking about money, money, m0ney and in what we’re not exactly the manner perhaps those of British ancestors would phrase a rather delicate issue. My father attempted to politely ,in a non abrasive manner , move the other issues along. Needless to say, my father was rather disappointed with him and well, the manner of the ‘quiet’ conference.
    This finally brings me to my point, sort of, . I and one of my sisters did well in high school back in Canada. My sister did exceptionally well, and excelled in maths. I studied political science, back when there were still no females in engineering programs and only 2 girls in law school. Easy 1980s. One of my brothers spent his high school failing and goofing off. In those days,one had to complete grade 13, in order to be accepted to a Canadian university. This brother, whom had been mom’s favourite, since she wished all her sons to enter the ministry. To make mama proud he applied to Liberty university, even though he failed most of his high school classes, or forged his grades (rather successfully I may add). He studied at Liberty, and really enjoyed it. He often said that at my university which I attended, that everyone looked so sullen and were not giving high fives to others when the saw friends between classes. I attempted to express, not explain, as that would have required some him to,ponder what I had said. I therefore mentioned to him, that at my school, many students were probably thinking about what they had just listened to I the lecture hall, they were attempting to fully comprehend a theory, about to write an examination by the one of many notorious professors, whom were without mercy, or perhaps, it was the middle of January, and the wind chill was minus 20 c, and minus 15 centigrade,with blowing snow, already ankle deep, and many of the students at my school had never lived in a real snow belt, where there was snow all winter long…..not the calendar winter…real Canadian winter, end of September, until May, sometimes June may even produce some flakes!
    So, my lucky brother had my parents come to Liberty for his convocation as he and Falwell shook hands. The real stinger was because I had the gall to attend a secular university..moms words,and thoughts, and did not wish to get my Mrs as soon as school ended, she and my father…dad obeyed mom…how’s that for biblical….. Would not even attend my own convocation, of which was a 20 minute drive from their home. Wow that hurt…it still does today, decades later.
    Happy ending though. My brother, who married an American….princess, and believed he was really rich…with money, that is, not character, and indeed, he did make so good old boy contacts at Liberty, and secured a sales job, of which he did well during the early 00’s, however, lost it all, following that 2008 thing your banks did. So, his bride and his much humbled character spent a year and a bit in mom and dads basement. Of course, his southern bride had never been north or the mason Dixon line, and she was so delighted to have been living in the snow belt, during one of the most cold and highest snowfall in record. Caveat… His Liberty degree is not, I repeat not even recognized here, not because of the school, but because of the academic profile it has, as well as a few other issues. My brother will always find another sales job though. He has a u.s. Citizenship due to his wife, but I still think he is a Canuck at heart.
    I would also wish to, as a ”polite” Canadian, wish to offer my most sincere apologies for the rather incorrect typos, as well as words of which I really did indeed try to fix, but since I am not well versed in this computer stuff, my daughter laughs when I say this, as I first tried the computer on a Commodore 64, and I pad is not in my vocabulary. Therefore, I do hope you, whom are brave enough to comprehend this manuscript, thank you. Also, here in Canada , we have a rather controversial debate going on with a Christian uni, called trinity university and the law degree program, which has been determined to be fine with our State…. Yet has found a lot of really rough trouble and ethical issues as well as matters of faith, state, rights,,,,especially certain ‘victims’ in our much outraged and overtly social justice warriors, and everyone is a victim of society. I believe they may need some help, both verbal support , and even perhaps , though I am not sure, legal, ethical, etc support. This is indeed an area you wonderful,Americans do well with. Canada would be wise to seek some wisdom from our southern cousins.

    A

  • I went to Liberty as an English undergrad and transferred to a secular school back in 2005 to finish my bachelor’s. Why? Because I discovered at the time that literally no graduates from LU had EVER been accepted to UVA’s graduate MFA program. I did really like the English professors, though, and being a part of the campus art and culture club was a new experience for me, in a good way (Kairos).

    The biggest issue was that I wanted to study abroad and Liberty only offered missions trips, but I won’t say that the other factor wasn’t significant to me.

    However, I had a friend who grew up in an very unhealthy secular environment, and for her, Liberty was a wonderful place. It was safe, she met her husband there, and she even worked there later. It may not have been the place for me, even as an evangelical, but I can totally understand how it is helpful for some in certain contexts.

    Even so, I do not think it offers the healthiest undergraduate education. When I told my philosophy professor that I was leaving, he said, “Most [undergrad] students here either rebel or conform. Neither takes much thought.” Coupled with the “brainwash” classes of GNED and the patriarchal, complementarian theology ensconced in the OT/NT Survey classes, I felt like I was “playing” at school in some kind of grown-up version of Sunday school classes.

    In addition, the abuses I saw in the dorms and campus to ensure the moral codes were kept up with were inexcusable. In particular, the school’s treatment of a student with serious depression was egregious and harmful.

    I do, however, understand how the graduate experience would (hopefully) be different.

  • Lee

    Finally!!! You’re the only other person I’ve found who was outraged by this! I practically busted a gut on Facebook and had the most outrageous responses posted. No one even “got” that they forced their students into a compromising position of having to appear to support a political candidate without even having advance warning. One of my family members even called Liberty to ask if they had fined any students who did not attend. They told him that they did not. So he saw no problem. Hello!!!!! COERCION IS A PROBLEM WHETHER THEY WERE FINED ACTUAL DOLLARS OR NOT!