God’s Death in the College Classroom

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Over the weekend I caught the new movie God’s Not Dead. It’s about a college freshman named Josh Wheaton, who in his philosophy course encounters a militantly atheist professor. The professor tells the students to sign on to his Nietzschean credo that “God is dead.” He asks them to literally write it down and sign their name. Josh can’t do that, and a battle begins.

The professor challenges Josh to defend his beliefs before the class. He gives Josh the podium for three class periods. Josh isn’t always perfect, but he does very well, and he makes a big difference. Josh convinces his classmates that God’s NOT dead.

The movie is uplifting, though I don’t expect it to make many converts. It’s an extremely evangelical movie, with all the language and lingo, much of which will strike cradle Catholics as very odd. Still, the movie is worth seeing and supporting.

But God’s Not Dead prompted another thought: I’ve been in higher education for 30 years. Sadly, the hostile professor that Josh Wheaton encountered is hardly unusual. And most Christian students cannot pull off what Josh pulled off. I find that their parents think that they can; that they’ll be just fine. The parents eagerly tell me about the highly ranked secular university that has accepted their child for admission. Unfortunately, these young people go to these colleges and often get chewed up the radical secular progressivism.

I can’t begin to tell you the number of times a parent has told me, “Hey, Jimmy decided to take a religion course at his college, but the course is taught by an atheist who hates Christianity!”

Well, of course.

Worse, the parents pay for this. They pay the university a lifetime savings to, in effect, undo everything they taught their child. If your child is in that destructive process right now, stop it, and transfer to a Catholic college—a real, genuine Catholic college. A true higher education embraces rather than rejects and ridicules faith.


Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism” and “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”

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