IFAS | Freedom Writer | November/December 1997 | university.html

Falwell fights 'heresy' on campus

By Skipp Porteous

Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell lament the fact that great institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, and Dartmouth are no longer Christian colleges. In a commencement speech delivered on May 4, 1997, at Liberty University, Falwell said, "This nation was founded upon biblical principles. Historically, 104 of the first 119 colleges and universities in America were founded by Christians. Harvard was 100 years old before it had any professors who were not ordained ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Dartmouth was started as a missionary outreach to Indians. Brown was the first Baptist college in America. The Christian heritage of America is undeniable."

As a remedy to what they view as a deplorable state, both men have created accredited universities exclusively for Christians. Jerry Falwell founded Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Virginia; and Pat Robertson, Regent University, in Virginia Beach, Virgi nia.

On November 7, 1997, in a startling speech, James O. Freedman, president of Dartmouth College, revealed the school's previous attitude toward non-Christian students, particularly Jews. The disclosure came during the dedication of a center for Jewish stude nts at the school, located in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Using documents from Dartmouth's archives, Freedman read from correspondence between Ford H. Whelden, an alumnus, and Robert C. Strong, the director of admissions. Whelden complained that "the campus seems more Jewish each time I arrive in Hanover. And un fortunately many of them (on quick judgment) seem to be the 'kike' type."

Dartmouth's Strong replied, "I am glad to have your comment on the Jewish problem, and I shall appreciate your help along this line in the future. If we go beyond the 5 percent or 6 percent in the Class of 1938, I shall be grieved beyond words."

According to published reports, Freedman described other correspondence where Jews were referred to as "ghetto types," and "Eastern Europeans with oily hair and hooked noses."

In a New York Post clipping from 1945, Ernest M. Hopkins, Dartmouth's president, said that a number of Jewish students were turned away simply because they were Jewish. Hopkins said, "Dartmouth is a Christian College founded for the Christianizatio n of its students."

"Today," Freedman said, "Jewish students have a proud place at Dartmouth."

Falwell's Liberty University and Robertson's Regent University have determined that non-Christian students will never have a proud place at their schools.

"My experience in studying Christian schools that got off course later is," according to Falwell, "that in three areas they failed to take precautions." The three areas he listed concerned rotating boards, faculty tenure, and mandatory chapel services.

"Our board is self-perpetuating," Falwell told Christianity Today last year. "We have 37 members. You can't get on our board without a unanimous vote. All the board members are strong evangelicals, committed to the inerrancy of Scripture, all the c ardinal doctrines of the evangelical faith. It is unlikely that a person, because he gave the university $50 million, but didn't believe in anything, would get on the board." Falwell said that rotating boards tend to go bad. At Liberty, the president appo ints faculty, staff, dean, and administration.

"We don't have tenure," Falwell said. "Where tenure is practiced, eventually theistic evolution is taught. And pretty soon that kind of heresy leads to another level, and to another level, and then suddenly you look around you and you've got to look real hard to find one of those inerrantists who believe the Bible from cover to cover." The faculty at Liberty has one-year contracts.

The third area where formerly Christian universities failed, according to Falwell, involves mandatory chapel services. "Once they become optional, they become null and void." Liberty University holds mandatory chapel services three times a week.

"It is unlikely," Falwell concluded, "that in the foreseeable future the school will make a turn to the left."

While religious discrimination is not unlawful at private schools, Freedom Writer called the admissions office at Liberty University to see if they admit Jewish students. "Oh, we treat them no differently than regular students, but we're definitely a Christian school," Chris Falwell told Freedom Writer. He then put Mark Camper, the director of admissions, on the phone.

Camper said that Liberty would accept Jewish students "If they met our admissions criteria and standards." Camper explained the application process, and faxed Freedom Writer a copy of the application for admission.

The application for admission states: "Liberty University considers applicants for admission without regard to race, religion, color, sex, national or ethnic origin, age or physical disability who meet the University's academic criteria."

Applicants are required to provide the name of the church they attend, and their pastor's contact information. They must also write an autobiographical sketch of 250 words or less, which includes the applicant's philosophy of life, his views regarding tra ditional family and moral values, and "how your worldview would relate to the stated mission and character of Liberty University." The Liberty University mission statement is printed in bold caps above the previous statement. It reads, "TO PRODUCE CHRIST- CENTERED MEN AND WOMEN WITH THE VALUES, KNOWLEDGE, AND SKILLS REQUIRED TO IMPACT TO-MORROW'S WORLD."

Concerning Jewish applicants, Camper admitted that "there probably wouldn't be many who would want to come." Camper couldn't think of any Jewish students currently enrolled at Liberty University.

At Regent University, Monica Gooding, in the School of Government admissions office, told Freedom Writer that "We admit all students without discrimination. We are a Christian institution; it is assumed that everyone in the classes are Christians."

Regent University's web site states: "Regent has an average enrollment of 1,700 students who represent all 50 states, and religious denominations," and, "Regent University admits students of any race, color, sex, disability, and national or ethnic origin. " Religion wasn't included.

An article on the history of Regent University posted on its web site says, "The heritage of Regent University is rooted in a prophetic utterance given centuries ago by one of the first Christian ministers to set foot on the North American continent." Acc ording to the article, in 1607, the Reverend Robert Hunt prophesied, at a location just 10 miles from the Regent campus, "From these very shores the gospel shall be preached, not only in this world, but to the entire world."

"Nearly 440 years after that prophecy was uttered," the article continues, "a dedicated servant of God, Dr. M.G. 'Pat' Robertson ... founded Regent University." Not only is the math is off by 50 years, the University claims that Robertson is a direct desc endant of Rev. Hunt. "These historic facts," the article says, "have caused Regent University to closely identify with and celebrate the English pilgrim's prophetic prayer." The article also states that Regent is a university "exclusively offering Christi an graduate-level programs."

When asked if Regent has any Jewish students, Ms. Gooding thought hard, and said, " We've had one or two Messianic Jews, or ones who grew up Jewish and then converted."

While Mark Camper, of Falwell's Liberty University, said Jews would be welcome there, he added, "We certainly hope that they would eventually come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and savior."

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.