A Christian College Gone Pagan
The religious confusion naturally plays out in sexuality. Confusion seems to be the prerequisite for acceptance and success in today’s world. In pagan spirituality, as well as in pagan sexuality, God the Creator, distinct from creation, has been eliminated from consideration in most of our educational institutions. If we construct our own gods, we will also construct our own sexual identities.
I have a soft spot for Wellesley College. It was there that I courted my wife and from that school that she and two of our daughters graduated. Wellesley is an all-women’s liberal arts college in Boston, a respected place of high culture and learning. In 2017, Wellesley was ranked the third best liberal arts college in the United States by U.S. News & World Report and in 2016, the college was first on Princeton Review’s Best Professors list. Wellesley’s alumnae base has been described as the “most powerful women’s network in the world” and has an endowment of $1.81 billion. Wellesley graduates include Madame Chiang Kai Shek (former First Lady of China), two American Secretaries of State (Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton) as well as accomplished graduates galore, including, for example, well-known journalists Cokie Roberts and Diane Sawyer.
As an alumna, my wife receives the Wellesley Magazine. The first page of the Winter 2018 issue carries an exhortation for students from president, Paula A. Johnson, to practice [Buddhist] “mindfulness.” The final page depicts small children and their student teachers in the college arts museum, being warmly received by Tibetan monks in red and yellow robes. All were contemplating a beautifully-constructed sand mandala, an effectively seductive doorway into Oneism. Wellesley serves as an iconic example of our cultural move from a Twoist (Christian) worldview to a Oneist worldview. The college’s journey is a vivid story of recent American cultural history, expressed both in terms of spirituality and of sexuality.
Wellesley was founded in 1875 by Henry and Pauline Durant, both evangelical Christians and friends of Dwight Moody, who served as an early trustee. Concerned that Christian women were not being well-educated, the Durants felt the need for a women’s college. Henry Durant, in his opening address to the college, said that “the Higher Education of Women is one of the great world battle cries for freedom… I believe that God’s hand is in it.”
His wife Pauline placed a leather Bible in one cornerstone of the first building erected on campus. On the fly-leaf of that Bible, she had written:
This building is humbly dedicated to our Heavenly Father with the hope and prayer that He may always be first in everything in this institution; that His word may be faithfully taught here; and that He will use it as a means of leading precious souls to the Lord Jesus Christ…. “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” Psalm 127:1
Unfortunately, at Wellesley, that Bible is no longer “faithfully taught” as the foundation for the school’s mission. Indeed, it is taught only as a small portion of an interfaith smorgasbord of classes on spirituality and religion. As Wellesley became increasingly “secular” it dropped Biblical History as a required course, and rejected the uniquely Christian commitment of the school’s founders. Community members may be vaguely reminded of the founders’ Christian goals through the words of Jesus in the Wellesley logo (Non ministrare, sed ministrare, “not to be served but to serve”—Mark 10:45) or by a few Christian images in stained glass windows on campus. But Christian truth has been consciously and systematically eliminated.
In his article, “Towards a Multi-faith Community at Wellesley College…”, Victor H. Kazanjian Jr, Dean of Intercultural Education and of Religious and Spiritual Life, speaks of a “revolution” that has taken place since his arrival in 1993, namely the undermining of both Christianity and secularism. His first big challenge was to attempt to move the school “from an inclusivist [expressly Christian] community to a pluralistic one in which different cultures, traditions and perspectives are equally valued in a grand experiment of educational encounter among different peoples of the world.”
His second challenge was to ensure that secularism be dropped in favor of a multi-faith model of religious and spiritual life at Wellesley College. In 1993 the Wellesley College community was introduced to an “exciting new model of religious and spiritual life.”
At a time when most colleges and universities, confused by the conflict between a mono-religious institutional history [Christianity] and a multi-religious contemporary college community, were de-emphasizing the religious and spiritual dimensions of their institutions, Wellesley set out on a journey in the opposite direction. Determined to continue to value the role of religion and spirituality in the educational experience which has been so much a part of her past, Wellesley created a new and largely untraveled path for an academic community (or perhaps any community), the exploration of multi-faith community.
In his opening address at the college, Kazanjian underlined the importance of this multi-faith model:
It is my hope that in the years ahead, we will, through the Religious and Spiritual Life Program, nurture a multi-faith environment which truly responds to the rich diversity of religious tradition and experience represented in the Wellesley College community among students, staff and faculty.
The school has added a second inscription to its motto, boldly announcing Wellesley’s pagan spiritual future: incipit vita novae (“Here begins new life”). The “new life” in question is not the new birth of Christian faith but the new person, propelled by the spirit within.
Wellesley has also followed societal trends in the area of sexuality. When my wife attended Wellesley in the 1970s, male visitors had to check into the dorm and were required to leave by 10pm (not that all of them did, of course). Now, like many colleges founded on Christian principles, Wellesley seems determined to undermine the traditional and scriptural “gender binary” by affirming a growing plethora of sexual expressions. If my wife’s memory is accurate, Wellesley already had designated lesbian housing in the 1960s. By 2015, the college was obliged to recreate a definition of “woman” in order to determine who can apply for admittance. When a transman student ran for the position of multicultural affairs coordinator, the ire of some Wellesley students ran hot: “We can’t have men in charge again!” A man with power at Wellesley, even one born a biological woman, would not do. The definition of an all-women’s college in our day and age is confusing. Seeking to maintain Wellesley’s mission—to provide an excellent education to women who will make a difference in the world, they established the following principle of admission:
Wellesley will consider for admission any applicant who lives as a woman and consistently identifies as a woman. Therefore, candidates assigned male at birth who identify as women are eligible to apply for admission. The College also accepts applications from those who were assigned female at birth, identify as non-binary, and who feel they belong in our community of women. Those assigned female at birth who identify as men are not eligible for consideration for admission.
Biological men who consider themselves to be women can enroll but not biological females who consider themselves men.
The religious confusion naturally plays out in sexuality. Confusion seems to be the prerequisite for acceptance and success in today’s world. In pagan spirituality, as well as in pagan sexuality, God the Creator, distinct from creation, has been eliminated from consideration in most of our educational institutions. In God’s place are the gods of interfaith religions, who are no gods at all. If we construct our own gods, we will also construct our own sexual identities.
This confusion is celebrated on page 35 of the Wellesley magazine in an article entitled “How to Raise a Feminist Boy,” by Wellesley grad Jordan Namerow ’05, a lesbian married to a lesbian, with a transgender man of color as the boy’s favorite baby-sitter. She argues that since “gender is a construction,” and that her “son’s” gender is “still in formation,” she seeks to make him aware of “our values” expressed in “all genders, races and religions.” There you have it. Wellesley’s present values, reflecting those of our culture, are found in the inevitable religious joining of multi-faith and multi-gender, a complete Oneist package, as Paul shows in Romans 1:25–26.
Following the 2015 legalization of same-sex marriage, historian Paul Kengor stated: “an American majority…no longer holds fast to the traditional-religious boundaries that navigated the lives of their ancestors” (Kengor, Takedown, 202–5). This is now equally true about august cultural centers of present Western education, like Wellesley College. “You’ve come a long way, baby!”
The Church must wake up. We need committed Christians like Henry and Pauline Durant, who are willing to invest their lives and wealth in sound, uncompromising Christian higher education. We need Christian lawyers who can stand in the secular courts, defending us against the intentions of laws like California’s AB 2943, which, if passed, will criminalize any financial transaction that promotes the biblical teaching on the nature of same-sex attraction. At this essential level of human identity, we face an unparalleled attack on Christian worldview—in our public schools, in our courts, in many once-Christian institutions of higher education, in many seminaries and even in our churches. Shall we sit back and watch the forces of Oneism take over vast sections of our world? Please consider what you can do. There are a few pockets of hope. In California, engaged parents succeeded in convincing legislators not to outlaw homeschooling. In earnest prayer and wise reflection, we can, as Bible-believing Christians, stand up and be counted.