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Welcoming Doubt to Christian Education

Reflections on the Cardus Education Survey from a department chair at the world's largest evangelical university.

I started school at age 5 and never left once. My formal education was entirely secular: public schools, then a private college, followed by graduate school at a state university. My teaching career began in Sunday school, continued in a business school, then two Catholic colleges, a state university, a Christian secondary school, a women's college, and an evangelical university. I even served a six-year sentence as a high-school principal. I am no mercenary: in matters of education, I don't believe one size fits all. Still, ideas have consequences, and the ideas that undergird a philosophy of education will bear their fruit.

So the results of the Cardus Education Survey, published in August, intrigued me, to say the least. The survey is touted as the largest known representative study in North America examining education's long-term effects on students now aged 23-40 who represent various kinds of schooling: Catholic, non-religious private, religious home school, conservative Protestant, and public. The findings are fascinating and surprising.

One major finding is that the students from conservative Protestant schools were least likely to be involved in politics. Another is that the students from religious homeschools were the most likely to get divorced. Given that a primary focus of conservative Christianity over the past several decades has been political activism and family values, these findings are striking.

Because I've spent the past 20 years teaching in institutions aligned ...

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