Conservative Christian colleges are more and more facing divisions over issues, such as LGBT rights and other social issues.
Many schools ask that faculty and students agree to a “faith statement,” which outlines the college’s views on those social issues. The statements typically prohibit homosexual activity and define marriage as between one man and one woman.
But increasingly, feelings on those issues are changing, according to NPR.
"Millennials are looking at the issue of gay marriage, and more and more they are saying, 'OK, we know the Bible talks about this, but we just don't see this as an essential of the faith,'" says Brad Harper, a professor of theology and religious history at Multnomah University, an evangelical Christian institution in Portland, Ore.
At Christian college Taylor University, an underground publication pointed out the school’s own changing attitudes, saying the college was becoming more liberal on important issues.
The newsletter said that conservative values on campus were becoming replaced by more politically and theologically liberal views.
According to NPR, LGBT students at Christian schools are also more willing to be open about their sexual orientation.
"People I've met in the English Department," says Calvin College junior Sam Koster, "even in my dorms, they're like, 'Oh, you're queer? OK, cool. Do you want to go get pizza?' "
Students, faculty and administration are now working to balance personal needs and spiritual needs with the school’s official positions, and that’s created a “tension,” says Mary Hulst, a senior chaplain at Calvin.
"You've got those two values," says Mary Hulst, senior chaplain at Calvin. "We love our LGBT people. We love our church of Jesus Christ. We love Scripture. So those of us who do this work are right in the middle of that space. We are living in the tension."
Meanwhile, Christian college administrations are also considering how those changing social attitudes could change their allotment of federal dollars.
"Every single Christian institution is wondering about that, and thinking, 'What happens if we lose government funding?' " says Brad Harper, of Multnomah University. "Everybody has done the math about how much money you would have to raise if you lose government funding. You can't do it."
Photo courtesy: Unsplash/Max Templeton
Publication date: March 29, 2019