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a journal of analysis and comment advancing public understanding of religion and education
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Vol. 31 No. 2 Fall 2004

Being Religious at Knox College: Attitudes Toward Religion,
Expression, and Conservative Values on Campus

L. Sue Hulett

One would be equally hard pressed, at least as far as American elite universities are concerned, to find one that would identify faith as central to its current approach to teaching, research, and student life….No aspect of life is considered so important to Americans outside higher education, yet deemed so unimportant by the majority of those inside, as religion. Alan Wolfe, Chronicle of Higher Education 2/8/02 page B-7

Religious students on campuses across the country have turned to social associations as the organizational centers of prayer and learning in their faith traditions. Yet many institutions are forbidding religious student associations from bearing witness to their faith on the choice of members and leaders, insofar as the choices impinge on politically correct concerns. Candace de Russy, Chronicle of Higher Education 2/22/02 page B11

When a Chronicle of Higher Education survey asked whether "colleges and universities introduce a liberal bias in what they teach," 14% strongly agreed with this statement; 37% agreed; 31% disagreed; and 8% strongly disagreed. 5/7/04 page A-10.

According to a national survey conducted by the University of Pennsylvania in February 2002, 86% of those between the ages of 11-18 believe religion is an important part of life.

"The mandatory First Year Preceptorial course is 1 day on Genesis and 4 weeks on Feminism."
Knox College student, 2003

"It is my responsibility to tell students that God is not the answer to any of their questions at Knox."
Knox College professor, 2003

Knox is a selective, nationally ranked, midwestern flavored, wonderful four-year liberal arts college. It has a rich intellectual history and a sustained commitment to the life of the mind and to changing the world. It more than lives up to its Mission Statement:

We provide an environment where students and faculty work closely together and where teaching is characterized by inviting and expecting students to pursue fundamental questions in order to reach their own reflective but independent judgments. This mission is carried out through….encouraging the critical exchange of ideas, challenging students with high expectations and persistent demands for rigorous thinking within a supportive and egalitarian environment.

The college honors this mission in many ways, but I most appreciate the way it has largely accepted me for twenty-four years, as that rare phenomenon – a conservative academic.

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