A consumer revolt is confronting 900 church-related colleges that educate nearly a million young people each year. Church colleges “have been institutionally oriented,” says Ted Cooper, Association of Admissions Counselors executive, “assuming that it would forever be the institution that would call the signals, and if consumers like it or not, it would all work anyway.”
But it’s beginning not to work. The students that church colleges recruit may be slow to picket, but they are quick to transfer; low costs, high academic quality, and few or no rules at public schools are strong selling points. So small, private colleges, already struggling to raise academic standards and lower tuition, lose students—and income.
One reason for that loss, suggests Cooper, is poor management. Some church-related colleges—College of Emporia and Baker University in Kansas, Tarkio College in Missouri, and Trinity University in Texas for example—are succeeding, but even efficient management may not draw enough donations to operate the colleges, let alone improve their facilities.
An educational consulting firm assisting several Roman Catholic colleges and universities estimates that the average Catholic liberal-arts college must raise about $4 million in the next five years. “To raise such a sum for purely operational needs,” the consultants note, “is a staggering task to an institution whose annual budget is probably only $1.5 million.”
Christian College for women in Columbia, Missouri, changed significantly, hoping to improve its financial situation. Last summer the college, which is loosely related to the Disciples of Christ, advertised nationally offering to name itself after anyone who would donate $5 million. When no one did, trustees changed the name anyway to Columbia College. “Always before people assumed that because of our name we were completely supported by the church, when actually 90 per cent of our income is from student fees,” says college president W. Merle Hill. “At least now we won’t turn people off before we can even talk to them.”
Although Columbia had already relaxed chapel and other requirements and is going coeducational, the financial problems remain.
One source of income many private educators are beginning to consider is federal support. Father Clarence W. Friedman of the National Catholic Education Association anticipates government scholarships students can use at the schools of their choice. But church colleges must hurdle some obstacles before they get federal funds. Last month fifteen Connecticut residents challenged in court the allocation of such funds to four Catholic colleges.
As long as such hurdles stand between them and federal aid, church colleges must look elsewhere for ways to improve academic quality. Church aid is usually minimal at best,Particularly for private Negro colleges. Most are affiliated with churches less affluent than predominantly white denominations. Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina, for example, gets a token $4,000 in AME Church support. Negro colleges also suffer faculty losses when large universities tap top teachers. Further, black alumni rarely become rich enough to offer their alma maters significant financial support. so some schools are sharing faculties and facilities. Others are changing curricula to eliminate unnecessarily small classes. Still others are lowering admission standards—and usually sacrificing academic quality as well. The most likely antidote for these ills may be aggressive action to keep the students they have and to attract more. But that’s not easy. One method is to undergo an “image adjustment.”
Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, has become a swinger among American Lutheran Church colleges since it began changing five years ago, says John Norton in the National Observer. The college’s new look includes dances in the college fieldhouse, smoking privileges for women as well as men, and a governing body that is half students to decide campus discipline and to influence curriculum, budget, and development committees. It excludes compulsory chapel attendance and dormitory hours for all except freshmen women. Students still must take some religion courses, but professors, Norton notes, “are not dogmatic.”
With the enrollment just over 2,000, Luther’s administrators have a different problem: they wonder what to do with too many rather than too few students.
Luther is not among the top ten Christian colleges determined by a survey of deans of students of some colleges mostly linked to conservative church groups (see box). Many of the colleges that made the list have altered little except, perhaps, their rules about theater. Biola maintains a movie taboo; Bethel, on the other hand, allows both movies and dancing. None permits drinking or smoking; some list cheating, drugs, and profane language as “forbidden.” Nearly all require (or expect) attendance at chapel services held at least twice a week, and most ask students to sign a pledge agreeing to abide by the rules.
Altering images may produce mixed blessings for many church-related colleges; alumni and constituents sometimes frown on “liberalizing” trends—and put their money where their smile is. But to patch up consumer leaks, church colleges do need—in a worn word—relevance. To keep students without alienating donors is indeed to sail between Scylla and Charybdis. At the same time, the ship of higher education must not run aground in shallow water or, when it flies the evangelical flag, veer from a commitment to biblical truth.
California’S Fourth ‘R’: Board Of Education Flap
Religion, of sorts, has become a controverted fourth “R” for California’s schools.
In a stormy Los Angeles session this month the State Board of Education adopted “morality guidelines” that call, in part, for classroom recognition of “the Judeo-Christian heritage and its biblically derived teachings” as “the prominent … moral influence … for many Americans.” The guidelines—a reference for textbook publishers, curriculum planners, and teachers—also say that it is the job of the schools to “supplement” the training and moral and spiritual values offered by the home and religious institutions.
Earlier, the board had composed a “Science Framework” that gives creationism equal scientific status with other theories regarding the origin of life.
The morality issue erupted last year after many teachers inquired about the specific meaning of a section of the California Education Code. The code decreed that they teach “the principles of morality, truth, justice, patriotism … and American citizenship.”
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Max Rafferty, a conservative Episcopalian, assigned aide Edwin Klotz to interpret the code. Next, the board asked member Donn Moomaw, evangelical pastor of Bel Air Presbyterian Church near Beverly Hills, to prepare an abbreviated set of guidelines based on Klotz’s eighty-one-page report.
The final product was a nine-page middle-of-the-road document urging student understanding of America’s pluralistic heritage, the need for law and order, the importance of constitutional rights, and the virtues of truth and personal integrity.
Not everyone agreed. Some rightwing groups and conservative churchgoers wanted more of the fundamentalist-styled Klotz report and less of moderation. As a compromise gesture, the board voted six to four to include the Klotz paper in the bibliography of the guidelines.The Klotz report criticized the nation’s Supreme Court, mental-health programs, sex education, and the United Nations.
Moomaw observed that he found himself “ashamed” in “a strange arena”: an evangelical in a key public role, yet under bitter attack by theological kinfolk. (One woman vociferously booed at close range a nun who represented Catholic educators, then handed her a New Testament. “Thank you,” said another woman, shaking Moomaw’s hand, “for ruining our schools.”)
Another committee will now decide how to implement the guidelines; conservatives and liberals alike vowed to be a watchdog over it.
The earlier decision by the board to include creationism in science guidelines provoked a hassle among liberals. The amendment merely said that “the origin of life implies at least a dualism or the necessity to use several theories to fully explain” it, that “while the Bible and other philosophic treatises also mention creation, science has independently postulated the various theories of creation. Therefore, creation in scientific terms is not a religious or philosophic belief.” Further, “some of the scientific data (e.g., the regular absence of transitional forms) may be best explained by a creation theory while other data (e.g., transmutation of species) substantiate a process of evolution.”
Inaccurate news accounts then mistakenly reported that the board had mandated the Genesis account of creation for inclusion in the state’s science curriculum. Basing its action on this misinformation, the San Francisco Presbytery of the United Presbyterian Church (along with other groups) passed a resolution condemning the amendment and asking that the Genesis account be declared off-limits on campus.
Holiness In Cincinnati
Meeting in Cincinnati for the first national gathering of the Wesleyan Church, some 700 ministers and laymen entered the seventies on their knees at a watch-night service. But speakers throughout the three-day conference (December 30-January 1) made it clear that committed Christians should get off their knees and on their feet to evangelize the unsaved.
General Superintendent Melvin Snyder (one of four) opened the special conference on evangelism by urging the Wesleyans to unite in finding new methods of telling the old story of Good News. The Reverend Clyde Dupin, former Indianapolis pastor now on the staff of former pro football player Bill Glass’s Citywide Crusades, said the most effective way for a pastor to get his members involved in soul-winning is to lead them on weekly visitation calls. Other speakers included Dr. Paul S. Rees of World Vision and Dr. Clyde Taylor of the National Association of Evangelicals.
Most of the twelve seminars turned into evangelistic sermons with lusty “amens” and groanings in the spirit from enraptured listeners.
The Wesleyan Methodists withdrew from the Methodist Church in 1843 in opposition to slavery. Wesleyans then continued to keep their distance because of doctrinal differences.
When the Wesleyan Methodists merged with the doctrinally similar Pilgrim Holiness Church to form the Wesleyan Church in June, 1968, they adopted a position paper stating, “Evangelism is the answer.” They reaffirmed that view in Cincinnati: Dr. J. B. Abbott, general superintendent, urged the conference to “face hard questions, look for honest answers, and be willing to rethink, restructure and adjust as necessary.”
Religion In Transit
Five hundred churchmen from six New England states were challenged to a spiritual awakening this month by the Reverend Donald Gill, head of the Evangelistic Association of New England. The Boston meeting was patterned after the U. S. Congress on Evangelism held in Minneapolis last September. Gill said congresses will be held on the state level next.
As civic tension mounted in Mississippi, Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish leaders announced formation of a forum designed to make the public school system “a model for the rest of the nation.” Bishop Joseph Brunini wrote the state’s Catholics that the parochial schools would not offer “a refuge from integration,” and charged that “hasty schemes” to create a new private school system “do nothing but defraud the youth.…”
The National Council of Churches’ ailing twice-monthly magazine Tempo, which costs about $100,000 annually to produce, has a new lease on life. Editor Fletcher Coates said a December drive to increase paid circulation boosted it from 3,500 to 6,500, and that the one-year-old publication will continue at least Temporarily.
New York State’s divorce rate, for years the lowest in the nation, has more than tripled in the first two years of a liberalized matrimonial law, according to the New York Times.
Forty-two per cent of U. S. adults attended church in a typical week in 1969, 7 per cent less than in 1958, the Gallup Poll reported. A high of 49 per cent came in 1955 and 1958.
The lead editorial of Lutheran Forum, an independent monthly, last month urged American Lutherans to meet James Forman’s demand for $50 million in reparations as a response to “this modern call for repentance of the sins of racism.”
Almost 1,300 young people from “Plymouth Brethren (Open)” congregations gathered at Wheaton College last month for a World Missions Congress. Black evangelist Tom Skinner, a Brethren “commended worker,” was one of twenty featured speakers.
NBC-TV will present the first nationwide religious folk musical telecast February 1. The Southern Baptist hour-long color special, “Tell It Like It Is,” will be the first of four prime-time telecasts allotted by NBC to faith groups this year.
Self-styled radical minister James D. Watson of Queens was unanimously elected moderator of the United Presbyterian New York Presbytery. Watson, who may clash with the Spanish-speaking Presbyterian ministers in the city, said he will press for “the kinds of things the Young Lords are doing” (see page 31). Calling himself a “Christian humanist,” Watson said he believes in “social action and not … preaching or the rest of that nonsense we went through years ago.”
The Navy’s highest-ranking chaplain, Rear Admiral James W. Kelly, told a press luncheon that antiwar moratorium activities in the nation haven’t hurt the morale of U. S. troops in Viet Nam but have encouraged enemy rocket and terrorist attacks … Meanwhile, Leon A. Dickinson, Jr., secretary for chaplains of the United Church of Christ, demanded that military chaplains be instructed to uphold officers and enlisted men who refuse to carry out orders they deem “immoral, in violation of the laws of war, or a crime against humanity.”
Dr. Robert T. Taylor, senior general secretary of the American Bible Society, retired after twenty-nine years with the organization … Renowned preacher-teacher Dr. George A. Buttrick retired from Garrett Seminary last month to live in Nashville.
Dr. O. Dale Emery of Marion, Indiana, became the executive director of the National Holiness Association this month. He was director of youth for the Wesleyan Church.
Remember the man who was discharged from the Royal Canadian Navy in 1951 and deported to the United States for impersonating a surgeon? Ferdinand Waldo DeMara, now 47, was famous as the Great Impostor for also posing as a college psychology professor, prison warden, schoolteacher, Trappist monk, and zoologist. And now? Known as the Reverend Fred W. DeMara, he is the new pastor of the thirty-member Conservative Baptist church in the Washington island hamlet of Friday Harbor. DeMara says he accepted Christ as his personal Savior in 1958.
Agnes Hamstra, 18, a supply aide at a Toronto hospital, was fired Christmas Eve for refusing on religious grounds to pay union dues. She is one of a number of Ontario Christian Reformed Church members sacked because they won’t pay. They believe the unions are materialistic and atheistic.
ELMER J. F. ARNDT, 66, professor at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, chairman of the Theological Commission of the United Church of Christ; in St. Louis.
GLADYS AYLWARD, 68, independent missionary in China whose rescue of nearly one hundred Chinese children from the Japanese in 1938 was included in a film based on her life, Inn of the Sixth Happiness; in Taiwan.
B. D. ZONDERVAN, JR., 34, vice-president of the Zondervan Publishing House founded by his father and uncle, active in many evangelical organizations; in Grand Rapids, of cancer.
All but one of eleven United Methodist missionaries—including five Americans—in Algiers, Algeria, were expelled at the end of 1969. An Algerian press release reportedly charged the missionaries with anti-national activities.
The Roman Catholic and Anglican churches of Scotland last month agreed to honor each other’s baptism rites and to draw up a common rite and text for the sacrament.
The East Asian Christian Conference, the Asian wing of the World Council of Churches, set aside $520,576 to help Viet Nam and Laos this year. Most of the money will go to relief work sponsored by Asian Christian Service.
Bernadette Devlin, whiz kid of Westminster, is appealing a six month sentence for her part in last summer’s Londonderry riots.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Michael Ramsey, has deprecated the reported papal intention to canonize forty English Roman Catholics martyred during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
After living off its vast wealth for centuries, the Roman Catholic Church in Chile has decided to liquidate most assets and depend on the voluntary contributions of its members.
Pressure within the Roman Catholic Church for social reform in Brazil has brought it into conflict with the country’s conservative, military-dominated government. More than 200 bishops have become increasingly estranged from the government, according to the New York Times, and charges of murder and torture of dozens of persons opposing the government have been presented to Pope Paul.
Looking beyond the end of hostilities, a report prepared for the World Council of Churches says that between 100,000 and 300,000 Vietnamese women are living as prostitutes, bar girls and “temporary wives” of American GIs. “It will be difficult for the girls to return to farm life” in postwar South Viet Nam, the report added.
More than 300 students attended a two-week inter-seminary study tour to Israel this month, representing ten Midwest schools.
During the 1960s, world membership figures in the Mormon Church jumped 74 per cent, from 1,816,000 to an estimated 2,815,000.
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