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Campus Capitalism

Colorado Christian firing raises questions about university's politics.

Less than twelve months after students named Andrew Paquin faculty member of the year, the administration of Colorado Christian University dismissed the popular professor. Paquin believes his concerns about free enterprise led to the administration's May decision.

The school, which does not offer tenure, declined to discuss Paquin's dismissal, but Paquin said CCU president William Armstrong wrote him a letter several months before his release, warning that Armstrong found it "deeply troubling to hear you say that capitalism is inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus." Armstrong has said that supporting free markets is part of the school's mission.

A former U.S. senator, Armstrong joined the suburban Denver college in 2006. Shortly thereafter, he unveiled a new set of "strategic objectives," stating that the college promotes free markets, limited government, compassion for the poor, Western civilization, and the "original intent of [the] Constitution."

Paquin, hired the year before Armstrong, assigned books by Jim Wallis and Peter Singer in his classes. "I wanted my right-wing students to see that the left wing has some validity," he said. But Paquin insisted he is no enemy of capitalism. His ministry, the 10/10 Project, funds microloans for Kenyans to start their own businesses.

"I think capitalism is an efficient and effective economic system," Paquin said, "but I won't deify it as an essential part of Christianity."

One of Paquin's students, Trevor Simmons, said CCU's strategic objectives "nearly incorporate a political agenda into the curriculum."

Like Colorado Christian, most evangelical colleges and universities expect professors to adhere to confessional tenets. Yet few adopt statements on political or economic systems. ...

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October 2007

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