Dear Editor,

On April 27, 2017, The Col­legian pub­lished an opinion piece that encouraged Hillsdale to sec­u­larize. The article entitled “The Impor­tance of Identity: Why Hillsdale College Should Con­sider Sec­u­lar­ization” explained the reasons to sec­u­larize if Hillsdale wishes to con­tinue its pursuit of truth.

Sec­u­lar­izing Hillsdale would be a mistake. Free Will Bap­tists founded Hillsdale. The college’s founders were Chris­tians and put their beliefs and values into its cre­ation. The college is a result of the Chris­tians who struggled to build this school and the values they instilled into its founding.

If we sec­u­larize Hillsdale after nearly 175 years of Christian influence, we are whole­heartedly rejecting the Christian values on which this school was founded. If Hillsdale sec­u­larized, it would change the insti­tution on a fun­da­mental level.

No longer would Hillsdale tie itself to timeless spir­itual truths but would open the door for many dan­gerous teachings to enter.

Other schools have gone this dis­as­trous direction and Yale is a prime example. William F. Buckley Jr. describes the shift away from free speech that fol­lowed with Yale’s increasing sec­u­lar­ization and Nathan Harden speaks of the various forms of promis­cuity that have invaded Yale’s halls since the school has turned away from its founding. There might be argu­ments that Yale is an exception and that we would not fall into similar straits, but I see no evi­dence for this assertion.

Sec­u­lar­ization also would make the statement that Hillsdale views Chris­tianity and its values to be false. Hillsdale claims Christian values are a part of the intel­lectual and spir­itual foun­dation on which it stands.

When I ini­tially visited the school, one of the admis­sions coun­selors said the Judeo-Christian tra­dition of morals is as fun­da­mental to Hillsdale as the Greco-Roman tra­dition of gov­ernment. With Hillsdale so closely tied to the Judeo-Christian tra­dition, sec­u­lar­ization would mean that we are declaring this tra­dition to be false.

One argument in favor of Hillsdale sec­u­lar­izing is that our college is missing out on potential stu­dents that would find Hillsdale’s Christian atmos­phere uninviting.

If Hillsdale is willing to sell one of its core values for the sake of attracting a few potential stu­dents, we may as well disavow other core values that might dis­courage potential stu­dents. Should our eco­nomics department begin teaching com­munism? Should our phi­losophy department begin teaching moral rel­a­tivism so as to encourage potential stu­dents of these mindsets to attend? If we are unwilling to abandon other core values, then we cannot con­sider setting aside our reli­gious values simply because potential stu­dents might dislike them.

Another argument for sec­u­lar­ization is that Hillsdale is choosing to sell their values to wealthy Christian donors by not sec­u­lar­izing. Buckley has also noted that for private col­leges, alumni and donors hold an incredible amount of influence over the ide­ology of the college since it is their gen­erosity that allows the school to operate.

Some might argue Hillsdale is selling itself out to donors in this way, but it is the donors that allow Hillsdale to exist and fund the schol­ar­ships and financial aid the vast majority of our stu­dents receive. I am unaware of a vast wave of indi­viduals who are waiting to replace the funding that would be lost from Christian donors. Even if there existed such a group, we simply changed one master for another, one that abandons our founding prin­ciples.


Andrew Simpson is a sophomore studying the liberal arts.


  • James

    Andrew, I hate to tell you this, but Hillsdale was a secular school. It is only recently that the admin­is­tration made the decision to begin calling it a Christian school. The honor code, christian school identify, con­sti­tution as required study…all a these are new affec­ta­tions for the purpose of attracting a few potential new stu­dents and donors.