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ERIC Number: EJ1115568
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 14
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0748-8475
The 4th R: Encountering Conservative Christianity in the Classroom
Barrett-Fox, Rebecca
Thought & Action, v32 n1 p37-50 Sum 2016
This article examines how scripts that circulate among culturally and theologically conservative Christian students, whether they are categorized as "born again," "Religious Right," "Christian Right," "nondenominational," "evangelical," or "fundamental," aim to prime students for the college classroom. Teaching in this context, of course, can affect professors in all disciplines in that all (presumably) ask students to question the epistemological frameworks they bring with them to college. Professors hope that education can transform individuals and communities, alleviate suffering, and reduce oppression, that students will be both freer and more responsible for having engaged critically with their world. Many conservative Christian students would similarly argue that "truth sets people free," but they may have a very different view of both truth and freedom, one informed by scripts that they have heard since infancy and that are emphasized as they enter college. Professors whose work is explicitly concerned about inequality and social justice may be particularly suspect and subjected to arguments rooted in such scripts. The problem is not that course content veers inappropriately into the territory of religion; rather, the challenge is that, for religiously conservative students (as for many religiously liberal ones), religion is expansive, covering all areas of social life. Indeed, for religiously conservative students, religion is one of the defining parts of their identity, and its influence over their behaviors and thoughts does not end at the church door. To distinguish between secular and sacred life would not only be impossible for them, but a sign of weak faith. Religion permeates all parts of their identity, and they are encouraged by their religious leaders not to surrender that in any context--not at the ballot box, not in the classroom. Thus, issues that may not seem to be religious to non-believers may be highly fraught with religious meaning for religious conservatives. In this way, even the most religiously indifferent professor must recognize the veracity of Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen and Douglas Jacobsen's warning that "religion is educationally unavoidable."
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A