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Rick Santorum Blames Colleges For “Indoctrinating” Students Against Christianity

Former Senator and Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum recently blamed colleges for “indoctrinating” students into accepting ideas that he disapproves of:

Rick Santorum said the nation’s colleges are promoting a “sea of antagonism toward Christianity” and “indoctrinating” its youth with ideals that support gay marriage, abortion and pornography.

Santorum called in to Tony Perkins’ “Washington Watch” on Tuesday to talk about the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling. The conversation dealt not only with abortion but also included other “symptoms” that have changed the nation.

Perkins spoke broadly, saying pro-choice Americans represent a troubled country that doesn’t choose life, meaning “That is to follow the principals, the teachings, the instructions of God … You see that as you’ve been in Washington, D.C. There is a rejection of this idea of truth, and that there is a foundation or morality, which needs to be upheld.”

Santorum agreed, adding that less young people devote themselves to Christianity. “If you look at the popular culture and what comes out of Hollywood, if you go to our schools and particularly our colleges and universities, they are indoctrinated in a sea of relativism and a sea of antagonism towards Christianity.”

“Abortion is a symptom. Marriage is a symptom. Pornography [is a symptom],” he continued. “All of these are symptoms to the fundamental issue that we’ve gotten away from the truth and the ‘Truth-Giver.’”

This isn’t the first time that Rick Santorum has bashed American higher education. Back during the 2012 campaign, he told Glenn Beck that President Obama’s plan to have every American student go to college was part of a plot to “indoctrinate” Americans. Of course, the President never actually said that he thought every American should go to college, but what do facts matter when you are on a good rant. At the time Santorum said this, I made this comment about what it actually said about the state of modern conservatism:

This isn’t about a policy disagreement between Santorum and Obama over whether education policy should be based on the idea that everyone should go to college, or on ensuring that students are directed into careers paths that are both well-paying and interesting on some level. This is about the Republican war against intellectualism and higher education and the belief, expressed most recently by Rick Santorum but popularized on the right before him by people such as Sarah Palin, that there is something wrong with intellectualism. It is an ironic development on some levels considering that modern American conservatism was started by men who Santorum would likely call snobs, William F. Buckley Jr being perhaps the most prominent. Today, though, conservatism has become predominated by the likes of Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh who seem to take special delight in bashing anyone who asserts that knowing something about the world, rather than simply trying to file it away in the appropriate right-wing category.

It’s pathetic, really. What’s so wrong, after all, about learning more about the world and, yes, even learning about opposing points of view? The kind of closed-mindedness that Santorum and his ilk seem to be championing is at odds not only with the founders of modern conservatism but the Founding Fathers as well. What would John Adams have thought about this kind of attitude? Or Thomas Jefferson?

Jefferson and Adams, of course, would have been appalled at an attitude like this, because they believed in the accumulation of knowledge and the value of education. The fact that modern day conservatives like Santorum continue to disparage it seems to be a fairly good indication that the intellectual roots of their ideology, which started with men like William F. Buckley and Russel Kirk, is essentially dead.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    Looking back on my college education at the University of California, I can honestly say that in all my important coursework for economics, applied statistical methods, and mathematics, that I never once noticed that any of my professors were, as Rick Santorum alleges:

    “promoting a “sea of antagonism toward Christianity” and “indoctrinating” its youth with ideals that support gay marriage, abortion and pornography.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 0

  2. bk says:

    @al-Ameda: Hell – looking back on MY college education, I barely remember any of my classes!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  3. JKB says:

    Well, let’s see, colleges have “sex week”, one (Candadian) is planning student orgy in conjunction, there is plenty of gay marriage advocation but Christian groups are harassed and not permitted to the people who run for leadership positions, actually be Christians. Oh and let’s not forget open hostility in many classes to Christians, US history and the US constitution. But then the smart student stays away from the economically-useless Arts.

    Good news though, Yale has introduced a course in bar tending so those liberal arts students will have a skill, assuming their 4 years of bad work habits reinforced in college don’t make them as unemployable as recent graduates.

    Of course, where colleges are failing in their indoctrination is discrediting capitalism. Seems many coeds are going a bit free enterprise and selling their intimacies to pay off their useless degrees.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 104

  4. wr says:

    @JKB: Ah, JKB, you are the perfect Republican, wanting to destroy the very idea of higher education on the off chance that someone out there is having fun.

    Bitter, sexless, terrified of learning and desperately envious of those who have what they’re terrified to accept they want — this is today’s conservative.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 65 Thumb down 3

  5. al-Ameda says:

    @JKB:

    Good news though, Yale has introduced a course in bar tending so those liberal arts students will have a skill, assuming their 4 years of bad work habits reinforced in college don’t make them as unemployable as recent graduates.

    More good news, they’re dispensing free birth control and black tar heroin to the few young Republicans who are interested in higher education.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 1

  6. edmondo says:

    I wonder if the president of Notre Dame realizes he’s a godless fool, you know, old Father Whatshisname?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  7. Dear Administrators: Can you please re-enable the ability for the site to not display comments after a certain number of down votes?

    Some stuff is so absurd that I really don’t want to bother reading it (see generally “JKB”).

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 39 Thumb down 2

  8. ernieyeball says:

    “If you look at the popular culture and what comes out of Hollywood, if you go to our schools and particularly our colleges and universities, they are indoctrinated in a sea of relativism and a sea of antagonism towards Christianity.”

    Ricky Dink is right of course. He’s just 35 years behind the times. This 1978 documentary recalls the beginning of the decay of American higher education in 1962.

    “…isn’t this an indictment of our educational institutions in general?”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROxvT8KKdFw

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  9. JKB says:

    @wr:

    Oh, no problem with a bit of fun but what universities are not providing in general is an education. Increasing college is inculcating poor work habits in students.

    But all is not lost. We have the technology, better technology than in the past. This has great possibilities as the steam engine came about in part because the inventors were excluded from the universities of the day and had to find alternative schools and work in the trades. As happened in the past, we could see real advancement by those who escape the “formal” education system. This time though, they’ll have access to the still useful parts of the university but not the handicap of the indoctrinating parts.

    “Newcomen’s religion had consequences greater than absence from a local census.  Dissenters, including Baptists, Presbyterians, and others, were as a class, excluded from universities after 1660, and either apprenticed, or learned their science from dissenting academies.”

    “At the same time that he chartered the world’s first scientific society, Charles II had created an entire generation of dissenting intellectuals uncontrolled by his kingdom’s ever more technophobic universities.”

    And no, I don’t expect fundamental transformation of the human experience as steam power was but who knows what can happen when not constrained by “consensus”.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 45

  10. Tony W says:

    Umm, I think that’s the whole point of college. Well educated people honor reason and sound arguments over superstition and other hocus-pocus. Further, college is supposed to help young folks submit their preconceived notions and indefensible ideas to scrutiny, making them perhaps just a bit more self-aware.

    Religion can only succeed by preventing logic and reason and critical thought from intruding into society.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 39 Thumb down 1

  11. swbarnes2 says:

    @JKB:

    This has great possibilities as the steam engine came about in part because the inventors were excluded from the universities of the day and had to find alternative schools and work in the trades.

    Really? Hero of Alexandria, inventor of the steam engine, was kept out of university because he didn’t hew to orthodox Christianity? Nothing disproves the merits of education like getting the historical facts wrong.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 2

  12. JKB says:

    @swbarnes2:

    Oh, you are talking about the toy that provide no great benefit for mankind for 1500 years. I was talking about the men who made steam do useful work and transformed human civilization.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 34

  13. Ron Beasley says:

    Better title - Rick Santorum is still an idiot..

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 0

  14. anjin-san says:

    Good news though, Yale has introduced a course in bar tending so those liberal arts students will have a skill,

    I was in the bar biz for a long time, & if I could not land a good professional gig, I can make 80k a year working in a good bar in SF. I suspect that is more than you make. It’s not a bad thing to know how to do.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  15. Greg Z says:

    @Tony W:

    The remark about religion and logic is as shortsighted as JKB and Santorum. Although you’d never know it by the likes of these caricature “Christian” Republican figures, religion and education have traveled together well (if not always in agreement) since the dawn of western civilization. Many of our great universities were founded by Christians, and many scientists, artists, and profound thinkers were of the faith. Anti-faith intellectuals are not any further enlightened than the anti-intellectual faithful. The former tend to put too much credence in the assumptions underlying their reason, while the latter tend not to think much at all about what they profess to believe. Much the pity for both.

    To be clear… as a Christian and a scholar holding multiple degrees, I assert the appropriation of the tenants of faith as an instrument of political gain, as people like Santorum have done, is wrong and dangerous to a free democracy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  16. JohnMcC says:

    Just to indulge myself and because I happen to have really really been a follower of Russell Kirk, his name has two “L’s”, Mr Mataconis. It’s kind of a respect thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. superdestroyer says:

    @Tony W:

    If you think that the modern university is motiviated by facts and reason, then I suggest reviewing the website of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). It is not filled of stories and successful legal actions against universities to control the rightwing administration.

    Remember, it was students at UC-Berkley who tried to label the fact that blacks commit crimes at a higher per capita rate than whites as a “hate fact.”

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 15

  18. Sarah says:

    Of course colleges are against Christianity. Didn’t God get all pissed that Adam got some knowledge? It’s the bible that’s the problem though, not learning.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  19. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Santorum is barking up the wrong tree.

    The problem with left-wing colleges and universities is not that they’re indoctrinating kids against Christianity. The problem is that they’re numbing their brains and indoctrinating them into overall politico-socio-economic leftism and simultaneously leaving them largely unemployable, not to mention saddled with crushing debt burdens that for many of them never will be paid. That’s the problem.

    Speaking of which:

    Unemployment rate among those aged 18-19: 22.6%
    Unemployment rate among those aged 20-24: 13.7%
    Unemployment rate among those aged 25-34: 7.7%
    Unemployment rate among those aged 55-plus: 5.9%

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 11

  20. C. Clavin says:

    JKB shows his/her face without owning up to his/her being completely wrong on the NRA ad.
    Spineless.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  21. wr says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: That’s funny. I’ve got my useless BA in comparative literature and my useless MFA, and I’ve probably made more money using what I learned there than you, JKB and SuperDope put together.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. humanoid.panda says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: so, 18-19 year olds have the highest unemployment rate of any age group because useless college education left them in crashing debt and without marketable skills? Kids must be starting schools early these days.. It’s either that , or the number you cite don’t mean what you think they mean. I’d go with the latter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  23. EBL says:

    @al-Ameda: If a college professor can take a college kid and get him or her to reject Christianity that he or she had from young childhood until then, well that must be one persuasive college professor. I don’t doubt religious belief may be eroding, and that many in academia lean to the left and secular (and promote it), but it is not quite as simple as Rick Santorum would make it out to be. The biggest cultural influences are parents not making religion a priority, peer pressure and the general culture, which are all playing a part way before that kid gets to college.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  24. Bob P says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Unless you have major issues with math, it actuallys makes sense that 18-19 & 20-24 year old people would have higher unemployment rates. After all, they are still too young to have completed college and are therefore less employable than college graduates!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  25. Mikey says:

    Santorum’s way off (no surprise there). Colleges aren’t systematically indoctrinating students “against Christianity.” Professors have far too much to do to worry about doing that, too.

    What’s really happening is when kids head off to college, they’re out of the bubble in which they’ve been confined their whole lives. They can interact with other people who hold different beliefs and the parents have no control over any of it. And those for whom the Christian indoctrination hasn’t “stuck,” they’re open to new ideas, and openness to new ideas is anathema to many fundamentalists.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  26. george says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    The problem with left-wing colleges and universities is not that they’re indoctrinating kids against Christianity. The problem is that they’re numbing their brains and indoctrinating them into overall politico-socio-economic leftism and simultaneously leaving them largely unemployable, not to mention saddled with crushing debt burdens that for many of them never will be paid.

    You know, I don’t think I got a single political indoctrination (left or right wing) during undergraduate and graduate studies – though one prof who felt very strongly that string theory was bunk might qualify if you want to push the indoctrination theme. I almost feel cheated … have people who complain about the amount of indoctrination actually gone to university, or are they just feeding off each others complaints?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  27. superdestroyer says:

    @wr:

    I guess personal insults being a reason for being banned does not apply to liberal at Outsidethebeltway. When progressives do not have snark, they have nothing else. And if you look at the top paying majors, comperative literature is not in the top 10. Just because you have a good job does not mean that having a degree in philosophy is better than a degree in petroleum engineering.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  28. Operator says:

    @JKB: Man, I don’t know what college your’re talking about but I need a transfer! Also I go to college as a BC/MB honors student ( I should probably fall into the “anti-christian ” population that you are describing). On my campus there are not one, not two, but five Christian/Catholic outreach centers, two synagogues near campus for the Jewish community, and a single mosque for any Muslims. I can assure your that there are religious influences of all types at or near the college campuses in the US. What I don’t think you understand is that college allows every student a chance to develop critical thinking skills in whatever major they find interesting. A side effect of this critical thinking is that after its use in the class room, it can be applied to just about everything, government, religion, what have you.

    Now that we have that basis let me let you in on an interesting tid-bit. There are more college attendees then ever before. People are starting to realize that the ancient doctrines of the past are in-fact fallible and that choices can be made logically. I’m afraid that if you feel like your religious beliefs are being encroached on, then you are obviously in the right. People are realizing that a very viable way to advance as a society is losing the idea that a Christian is an enemy to a Muslim and that a Jew cannot coexist with a Palestinian all be leaving “religion in its entirety behind.

    I’m afraid JKB, that you are becoming extinct.

    I believe that the world is realizing that the next step in human evolution is a step towards rationalism.
    Some fight this idea be it through a car bomb, damnation of others who only wish to exist on this planet with the same chances that you do ,or even by blocking blocking basic rights to those who deserve it the most through the use of laws and corruption.

    Others choose to accept this change. They advance medicine, they see past the cultural stigmas and ignorance displayed on TV, they pass laws to help the helpless.

    Unlike you my friend, I choose rationalism.
    My chance for change, is through the view of a microscope.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  29. ernieyeball says:

    @Operator: (to Citizen B) What I don’t think you understand is that college allows every student a chance to develop critical thinking skills in whatever major they find interesting.

    I suspect B understands what is going on. Some folks are threatened that not everyone will hold the same “cherished beliefs” that B subscribes to.

    As far as “the next step in human evolution is a step towards rationalism.”…Good luck with that!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  30. Alex Knapp says:

    Rick Santorum has three degrees from three different Universities. If they’re indoctrinating people the way he claims they are, they’re not doing a very good job.

    Also, JKB, you have your facts exactly backwards. James Watt did most of his work on the Steam Engine while working at the University of Glasgow. He worked there because he couldn’t find a job in the private sector. Nice try, though.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  31. ernieyeball says:

    Also, JKB, you have your facts exactly backwards. James Watt did most of his work on the Steam Engine while working at the University of Glasgow. He worked there because he couldn’t find a job in the private sector. Nice try, though.

    Once again JKB stands for Just Kidding Because “I don’t know what I am talking about.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  32. grumpy realist says:

    @JKB: Strange. One of my degrees is an MA. In order to get it I had to demonstrate an ability to read at first sight and comment on passages in philosophy written in Latin, read medieval Italian and French, and write a thesis suitable for publication working from first sources (in this case, legal consilia written in juristic Latin.) We did read a lot of arguments about Christianity and morality, but they were all written by humanists in the 14th and 15th centuries.

    If you want to get pissed at the supposedly “anti-Christian stance of the universities”, you can get right in line behind a lot of the popes, the Inquisition, Henry VIII, and a host of other historical figures. Both secular and religious authorities have been complaining about the independent mindset of the universities for CENTURIES. They squawked about Plato, they squawked about Aristotle, they squawked about Thomas Aquinas.

    In other words, you’re just one more of the crowd arguing against education, period.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  33. Rob in CT says:

    Jefferson and Adams, of course, would have been appalled at an attitude like this

    Well, they were coastal elites so of course! ;)

    I don’t recall any of my professors running down religion. *I* did, but not (that I recall) my profs. The one course I took that really involved religion was a study of the literature of the Old Testament. The prof simply stated up front that the purpose was to read it and analyze it as literature, and that it wasn’t about whether or not it was true (it was a “Western Civ” type class). I recall precisely 1 instance where right-wing views were disparaged by a prof (views were mine). I also recall exactly one other professor whose political leanings I even knew about (Righty, that one). So 1 demerit for that one instance… I don’t even remember the class. It was clumsily done in any case. Indoctrination FAIL.

    Now obviously that’s just my experience at 1 particular liberal arts college in New England. But I find that others at similar institutions had similar experiences.

    Projection, again?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. Barry says:

    @Alex Knapp: “Rick Santorum has three degrees from three different Universities. If they’re indoctrinating people the way he claims they are, they’re not doing a very good job.”

    In other words he’s a highly dishonest hypocrite.

    “Also, JKB, you have your facts exactly backwards. James Watt did most of his work on the Steam Engine while working at the University of Glasgow. He worked there because he couldn’t find a job in the private sector. Nice try, though.”

    Question for commenters – has JKB ever gotten a fact correct here?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  35. Rob in CT says:

    Also, too:

    It’s pretty clear when you listen to/read these folks, what they mean by “anti-Christian” is “failing to assert that Christianity is The Truth.” Someone who dispassionately examines the Old Testament as a piece of literature, for instance, is “indoctrinating” students in an “anti-Christian” manner. How? By failing to indoctrinate them properly, as Christ intended. ;)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  36. anjin-san says:

    I had to demonstrate an ability to read at first sight and comment on passages in philosophy written in Latin, read medieval Italian and French

    A little jealous here. My father spoke 5 languages, but I just did not seem to have the knack. I know there is a vast world I am missing due to my inability to read/speak Latin.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  37. Tyrell says:

    This reminds me of the ridiculous Vanderbilt University disaster in which the administration takes non- discrimination to the most absurd policy ever: a Christian organization was told it can’ t discriminate and had to let a non Christian run as its president!! Insanity!! Okay, I’ ll enroll at Vanderbilt and demand my right to use the women’ s locker room!!
    Just who was the person who came up with this decision ? We can nominate them for “nutcase of the year” award!! This is proof of the hostile attitude toward any religious groups that many university administrators have. As a way to combat this sort of thing, students of faith should join together and fight for their legal right to practice their faith on campus !! Campus Crusade for Christ is one organization that will help students on campus reclaim their religious rights. In many universities the atmosphere is becoming more hostile. Some professors have attacked students for any expression of religious beliefs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. ernieyeball says:

    @Tyrell: Some professors have attacked students for any expression of religious beliefs.

    It is always appropriate when making such accusations to back them up with specifics. Names, dates and places please.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0