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On Academic Freedom and Denominational Colleges

No, I’m not talking about my former denomination, the Seventh-Day Adventists. In this case, it’s Erskine College and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Let me make clear that I believe a denomination has the right to do what it wants to do with its institutions, always assuming that they uphold existing contracts. For example, if they contract to do one thing and then change their mind, I don’t think they are less liable for their contractual obligations than any other person or business. But apart from that if they want a doctrinally narrow faculty and even student body, that is their prerogative.

It is also, however, the prerogative of accreditation boards to take all of this into consideration, and outsiders can comment on the resulting educational quality. I would like to add one note, however, which I have gleaned over time. It is possible for informal structures to be as restrictive as formal ones. An academic department or institution can become very narrow without enshrining that narrowness in regulations.

I make this side-comments to introduce an excellent article on academic freedom, titled The Nature of Academic Freedom, from Tony Mitchell. It’s well worth reading and discussion. So go read it and discuss already!

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