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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Columns

Santorum should know better


In the latest chapter of the GOP’s war on education, fundamentalist candidate Rick Santorum has claimed that the left is using higher education to “indoctrinate” young people.

During a recent speech to a Baptist church in Naples, Fla., Santorum accused universities of “undermining the very principles of our country every single day by indoctrinating kids with left-wing ideology.”

Santorum is known to be a long-shot candidate due to his far-right evangelical views. He earned his infamous “Google problem” by comparing homosexuality to bestiality, and only a month ago said that President Obama’s desire for all American children to have the opportunity to attend college was “snobbery.”

“62 percent of children who enter college with a faith conviction leave without it,” said Santorum. He did not cite the research behind his claim — assuming that there is any

Unfortunately for Santorum, a 2007 University of Texas study found the opposite to be true; “those who never attended college had the highest rates of (declining) church attendance (76.2 percent), diminished importance placed on religion (23.7 percent), and dis-affiliation from religion (20.3 percent). Students who earned at least a bachelor’s degree, on the other hand, had the lowest rates on those three factors with 59.2 percent indicating decreased church attendance and 15 percent placing less importance on religion and dis-affiliating from religion.”

He also claimed the status quo in education is unfair because “If they taught Judeo-Christian principles in those colleges and universities, they would be stripped of every dollar. If they teach radical secular ideology, they get all the government support that they can possibly give them.” This is even harder to swallow — Santorum is an attorney, so he’s definitely familiar with the Constitution. He knows that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or the free exercise thereof.”

If the government were to fund universities that taught strictly Judeo-Christian values as Santorum desires, but did not fund universities that taught the variety of other religious and cultural beliefs and values in the world, they would be, in fact, establishing a preferred religion which is in violation of the Constitution. After all, the framers had personally experienced the intrusive and negative influence of the combined power of the Crown and the Church. They did not want that power to hinder, damage, or otherwise corrupt the foundation of our democracy. Santorum no doubt knows this, he just doesn’t agree. Santorum has maintained his firm religious and political beliefs despite spending 10 years in public higher education institutions.

Universities and their various departments have different cultures; professors have varied beliefs and passions as well.

Exposure is not indoctrination. The truth is that while college exposes us to new ideas, it also teaches us how to think critically and evaluate information. A college degree is still one of the best ways to give you a financial advantage in life and knowledge itself will enrich your days. That experience can never be cheapened by someone like Rick Santorum.

Emily Brooks is an economics senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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