As a former college instructor (in history and literature), i have always been interested in how students develop an intellectual worldview and how a college curriculum can help to shape it. Years ago I was fascinated by Wolfgang Leonhard's book Die Revolution entläßt ihre Kinder (English: Child of the Revolution) where he described how as a bright boy in Moscow he was picked to attend a special school for future communist leaders and functionaries. At this Stalinist Madrassa, Leonhard received a rigorous training in many subjects - but all with a Marxist-Leninist slant. No deviation from the party line was tolerated. After the war, Leonhard was sent to East Germany along with Walter Ulbricht to establish a communist dictatorship. In 1949 he turned his back on Stalinism for good and defected to the west.
I thouht about Leonhard and his experiences as I listened to this National Public Radio program which features a conversation with three students from Patrick Henry College . Patrick Henry College is a small school in Virginia where a reactionary form of Christianity is taught along with neoconservative political theory. The students have all been home-schooled by fundamentalist Christian parents, which means they have never been in a classroom with African-Americans, Muslims or gays and lesbians. At home they were taught that God has a special covenant with America, Europe is a cess-pool of atheism and relativism, and the United Nations is doing Satan's work. These students don't have to worry that they will encounter Jews or Muslims at Patrick Henry College, for in its Statement of Faith the college maintains that these non-Christians "shall be tormented in Hell for eternity." They also will never see an openly gay person, even on television, since these young adults need their parents' permission to watch popular television programs like Will and Grace that feature gay characters. Their internet access is filtered of any "un-Godly" content.
The College's Statement of Biblical Worldview is a remarkable document, to which all students and faculty must subscribe. Among other things they profess their allegiance to the following principles:
- The Bible is sole repository of Truth.
- The earth was created in six 24-hour days (must make for interesting 'science' classes.
- Men are the "head of their wives".
- Blind obediance to the "Government" is required - dissent is un-Christian
- It is duty to overthrow "un-Godly" governments (through whatever "legitimate" means).
It is chilling to listen to these students; all of them are seniors who have been subjected to four years of the Patrick Henry curriculum. It would not be so bad if these young men and women were going to go on and teach Bible school at some backwater town in Alabama, but graduates of this college are highly sought-after by neo-conservative think tanks, such as the American Enterprise Institute. Or they help manage the political campaigns for Republican candidates. Ignorant of foreign cultures, trapped in a narrow and hateful ideology, these students are the architects of America's future wars.