November 1, 2010; Source: Christianity Today | Is the Obama administration out to undermine religious colleges and universities? The tone of this article from the evangelist-leaning Christianity Today and an op-ed from the head of the Cardinal Newman Society in Life News make it sound like the Department of Education is promulgating regulations that will blunderbuss their way into government control of the curriculum, admissions, and hiring standards of Christian (and presumably other religious) colleges and universities.
The federal government is telling states to develop procedures for licensing private educational institutions as of July 2011 and to develop “adverse actions” against institutions that do not comply. At the moment if Christian colleges are accredited by a federally recognized accrediting agency, students there can receive Title VI financial aid. Former University of Colorado president (and former CEO of the Daniels Fund) Hank Brown joined Bill Armstrong, president of Colorado Christian University, in fretting in this editorial that state regulation would lead to interest groups advocating for mandated content.
Armstrong worries that the state would end up telling colleges to teach evolution and not intelligent design, or get involved in “whether a family is a man and a woman or two men.” Armstrong clearly hasn’t gotten his mind around the concept of two women. The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities told its members that state regs “could inadvertently or intentionally be especially onerous to our institutions that are trying to incorporate a Christian/biblical worldview in virtually every aspect of our institutional programs.”
Although several organizations have registered objections during the public comment period after the draft regs were published in the Federal Register, they say that the DOE never responded. A DOE spokeswoman told Christianity Today she was unaware of any objections and the department was not contemplating any delays.
Take this issue as a harbinger of the post-election future. Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander argued that “if that system needs improvement, we should have that conversation—not hand over the management of private colleges and universities to bureaucrats in Nashville or Sacramento or Boston.” To the Newman Society writer, these regs represent a threat to Catholic colleges on issues of abortion and birth control, a potential undermining of the Catholic school identities. Expect the arguments against the “bureaucrats” to multiply after November 2, no matter what issue is at hand.—Rick Cohen