Statements of Faith and Academic Integrity: A Follow-Up Question

by hamiltonmj1983

Most of you read my post yesterday, but I have been thinking about the subject and have a follow-up question:

What is the purpose of having a statement of faith in an institution of higher learning?

Now, I’m not trying to argue that colleges and universities should not have a statement of faith, but rather trying to find out the purpose of these statements. Are they to limit the pool of candidates for employment to only those of the same belief system that is imperative to the college? If so, how limited do you want that pool to be? While I understand that a Christian college, university, or seminary might only want Christians to be teaching, do you really want all those Christians to be of the exact same mindset about every little detail of their faith? Without diversity, where is the room to grow in one’s faith? Without an environment that can challenge one’s thoughts and ideas, where is the room for ingenuity and innovation? And furthermore, while I understand that it makes sense for a denominational college or university to want Christians teaching biblical and theological studies, as well as Church history and ethics, what does it matter if a Muslim or Jew teaches calculus or structural engineering or nursing classes?

While I wish that this was the only answer to the above question, I think there might be other reasons for having a statement of faith: pleasing an aging and elderly board of trustees; attracting potential students from conservative families within the denomination; attracting conservative donors; continuing to receive denominational funds, etc. My biggest problem with all of these is the fact that none of these reasons encourages academic integrity. Professors must fit themselves in tiny boxes designed by the board of trustees and the school, and if their research takes them outside of that box, then they either have to risk being fired (even those professors who have tenure), not publishing their research, or hiding the true results of their research to preserve their jobs.

What do you think the purpose of having a statement of faith (and particularly a statement of faith that all faculty and staff must sign) is?

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