Central Hall | Col­legian

Secular ideas have wrought dev­as­tating con­se­quences upon col­leges that are easy to see. Yet there are stu­dents even here at Hillsdale who want our school to follow the recent secular trends of our culture. One of these stu­dents, Blake Estep, last semester wrote an op-ed titled “The Impor­tance of Identity, Why Hillsdale College Should Con­sider Sec­u­lar­ization.”

Estep pro­poses to sec­u­larize our school by dis­solving its reli­gious affil­i­ation and ending its iden­ti­fi­cation as a “Christian insti­tution.” He argues that Hillsdale’s reli­gious identity dis­courages non-Chris­tians from attending, thereby lim­iting reli­gious dia­logue to a “majority Christian per­spective” and hin­dering its pursuit of truth. Advo­cates of sec­u­lar­ization claim that ending Hillsdale’s reli­gious con­nec­tions would make the college more “inclusive” for non-Chris­tians and foster a diverse student body.

Con­trary to these claims, Hillsdale is suc­ceeding in its mission of pur­suing truth and opening its door to all. It is not taking any coercive action to limit the diversity of reli­gious dia­logue on campus. The very exis­tence of God can be up for debate here on campus. Even with its reli­gious affil­i­ation, the student body actually con­tains a variety of faiths, including Catholicism, Angli­canism, Calvinism, Lutheranism, Mor­monism, and Judaism.  Oppo­nents may allege that the first five of these are Christian, yet they teach dif­ferent prin­ciples and doc­trines whereas the Bible instructs Chris­tians to be of the “same mind” and “same judgment” (I Cor. 1:10, NKJV).

Besides letting good ideas to be taught, Hillsdale’s self-procla­mation as a “Christian insti­tution” allows for a strong presence of reli­gious liberty not often present at most other insti­tu­tions. The very Christian ideals emphasize on freedom and its strong con­nection to truth. The apostle Paul wrote that “where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (II Cor. 3:17, NKJV). Jesus Himself pro­claims to be “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6, NKJV) and that the truth shall set men free (Jn. 8:32). With this bib­lical prin­ciple ingrained within its identity, Hillsdale manages to foster a lively envi­ronment of civil dis­course and reli­gious tol­erance not seen today in most other insti­tu­tions.

Another false claim labels the college as a “self-imposed echo chamber” that pre­vents stu­dents from knowing why they hate ideas such as com­munism and moral rel­a­tivism. In fact, classes in the pol­itics, phi­losophy, and eco­nomics depart­ments give thorough exam­i­nation of these ideals.

One class, Modern Political Phi­losophy II, focuses on the argu­ments of sub­jec­tivist thinkers such as Hegel, Niet­zsche, and Marx. The Koran is dis­cussed in the Western The­o­logical Tra­dition core class. Estep’s op-ed even admitted that the college is “gen­erally inclusive” of non-Christian stu­dents.

Unfor­tu­nately, it is not enough for the oppo­nents of Hillsdale’s reli­gious identity. Sup­porters of sec­u­lar­ization appeal to the self-cen­teredness of stu­dents in order to attack the Judeo-Christian values that define the liberal arts’ pursuit of truth. This self-cen­teredness is the desire to subject truth to per­sonal feelings rather than the objective will of what the founders described as the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.” It has destroyed this vir­tuous pursuit under the false pre­tenses of “inclu­sivity” and “diversity.” Sec­u­lar­ization would unleash this Orwellian culture onto our campus. How can Hillsdale live up to its mission if it adopts this culture?

Just look at the con­se­quences of sec­u­lar­ization at schools such as Oberlin, St. John’s, Swarthmore, and Denison. Blake’s op-ed touted these schools as examples of sec­u­larized liberal arts insti­tu­tions with reli­gious back­grounds. Yet, all four of these schools have become cesspools of trigger warnings, safe spaces, and identity pol­itics.

At Swarthmore, stu­dents have been taking classes such as a seminar on “Fat Justice and Fem­inism,” which teaches them to fault Ronald Reagan for the troubles of fat people. Denison Uni­versity is run amok with divisive race hus­tlers and Black Lives Matter activists. One of its pro­fessors even claimed that stating “all lives matter” is “covert” white racism. After becoming a secular insti­tution in 1964,

Oberlin College has reaped the poi­sonous fruits of its decision. It has included safe spaces for fem­i­nists feeling unsafe about a female con­ser­v­ative speaker coming to campus and even con­sidered a policy man­dating trans­gender sen­si­tivity training for the sake of “inclu­sivity.”

Despite being known for teaching the great works of western society, St. John’s College has not been immune to the con­se­quences of sec­u­lar­izing as it has pro­moted a student study group exam­ining the “depravity of whiteness.”

From these doc­u­mented inci­dents, it would be utterly laughable to claim that these sec­u­larized insti­tu­tions are even pur­suing truth.

When exam­ining Estep’s article, I thought of Oklahoma Wes­leyan Uni­versity pres­ident Dr. Everett Piper’s speech at the 39th Annual National Con­ser­v­ative Student Con­ference. In his speech, Piper echoed the warning reflected in Richard Weaver’s 1948 book, “Ideas Have Con­se­quences.” In light of the recent desire to sec­u­larize our school, my fellow Hillsdale stu­dents and faculty ought to heed this warning.

It is no wonder Piper declared at YAF that higher edu­cation in America is in a crisis as many more of these insti­tu­tions act as pro­gressive indoc­tri­nation centers after falling into the trap of sec­u­lar­ization. Hillsdale is among the few that do not even face these inci­dents since it aims to educate rather than indoc­trinate. Based on the actual con­se­quences of sec­u­lar­izing, why should our school even con­sider this ter­rible idea?


Doyle Wang is a sophomore studying pol­itics. He is a George Wash­ington Fellow.