Last night, Fox News televangelist Glenn Beck railed on universities, declaring that "we have been setting up re-education camps. We call them universities." Beck also explained that "our children are being submerged in the filth of communism" at schools around the country.
While Beck lobs the usual conservative vitriol at the supposed indoctrination taking place on many campuses around the country, he apparently does not think all institutions of higher learning are evil.
In May of this year, Glenn Beck gave a tear-soaked commencement speech at Liberty University, the largest evangelical Christian university in the world. The speech included Beck's usual over-the-top rhetoric, including his advice to grads that they should "shoot to kill." In a preview of his dramatic recent turn towards hyper-religiosity, Beck declared that God's "finger was on the back of Columbus," and that "God's finger...wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution." He added, "This is God's country. These are God's rights."
Both before and after his commencement speech, Beck has hosted Jerry Falwell Jr. -- current chancellor of Liberty University -- to discuss issues like social justice and plug Liberty U.
But Beck has done more than allow Falwell Jr. to plug his university; Beck himself has explicitly endorsed Liberty as a "university where your kids are safe, and your kids can actually learn, and not be filled with a bunch of nonsense." During a June 25 segment on his radio show, Beck and Falwell Jr. discussed a donated four year scholarship to Liberty University that Beck was going to auction off as part of fundraising for Beck's then-upcoming "Restoring Honor" rally.
GLENN: 11 more days, so it's another week, and we were down Pat and I were down when I gave the commencement address, we were down at liberty and I have to tell you, really not only impressed with the campus and what you guys are doing, but also I met many of the professors, many of the people that are putting your -- you know, your whole curriculum and everything your whole philosophy together every year, and it is really impressive what you guys are doing. I mean it's --
JERRY: A lot of people think it's just a Bible school, but it's a liberal arts university, it's fully accredited, 140 different undergraduate and graduate programs, with 63,000 students now. We just passed Ohio state to become the 7th largest university, four year university in the United States. So it's --
GLENN: That's amazing.
JERRY: -- because of our commitment to the founding principles to the Judeo-Christian ethic, and it's an exciting place to be.
GLENN: God bless you Jerry, we'll talk to you again and I thank you so much for your amazing contribution to the 8-28 rally, and we'll see you again my friend.
JERRY: Good news, yesterday was the first day that Glenn Beck Show was on the radio here on Lynchburg on WLNI, 105.9 so we can finally pick you up over the air waves.
GLENN: That's great. Thank you, I appreciate it. God bless you. Jerry Falwell from Liberty University. This is a university where your kids are safe, and your kids can actually learn, and not be filled with a bunch of nonsense. Liberty University, if you want to bid on that charity auction for 828, $80,000 value it's at 27,000 now for a four year full residence scholarship. Check it out atGlennBeck.com/828.
So what is the "whole philosophy" of Liberty University that really "impressed" Beck? Let's start with their draconian code of conduct, known as "The Liberty Way." Some highlights:
- It is a $50 fine and "12 Reprimands" for "attendance at, possession or viewing" of an "R"-rated movie.
- Involvement with "witchcraft" is treated harsher than sexual or racial harassment. While it is a $250 fine, "18 Reprimands," and "18 Hours Disciplinary Community Service" for sexual or racial harassment, it is a $500 fine, with "30 Hours Disciplinary Community Service," "30 Reprimands," and "Possible Administrative Withdrawal" for "involvement with witchcraft, séances, or other satanic or demonic activity." The fine for "involvement with witchcraft" is the same as "possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages."
- "Association with those consuming alcohol" results in a $250 fine and community service.
- Both men and women are not allowed to have "hair and clothing style related to a counterculture." Men cannot have hair that is "longer than the middle of the ear" and ponytails for men are strictly "unacceptable." Women must not wear anything "tight, scant, backless, see-through, low in the neckline or revealing the midriff," and any tank tops must have shoulder straps that are "no less than two inches wide." Violation of this policy results in "4 Reprimands" and a $10 fine.
- It is a $10 fine and "4 Reprimands" for "improper personal contact," which they define as "anything beyond hand-holding." (Side note: there would have been a lot of fines handed out at Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally, because he suggested that people greet each other with hugs.)
- "Attendance at a dance" results in "6 Reprimands" and a $25 fine.
In addition to the strict code of conduct for students, Liberty's treatment of important academic issues stands in stark contrast to Beck's description of Liberty as a place where "your kids can actually learn, and not be filled with a bunch of nonsense."
According to Liberty's curriculum, a "bunch of nonsense" includes the theory of evolution. Liberty's "Center for Creation Studies" states their purpose as promoting "the development of a consistent biblical view of our origins as students. The Center seeks to equip students to defend their faith in the creation account in Genesis using science, reason and the Scriptures." In other words, Liberty teaches its students the scientifically baseless theory that is Young Earth creationism, which posits that the earth is 5,000-10,000 years old and was created exactly how it was described in the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament.
A Washington Post article from March described a trip that Liberty students took to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. In it, Liberty professor David DeWitt decried the lack of balance at the museum, and criticized the museum for being "completely 100 percent evolution-based."
In a March Agence France Press story about the rise of creationism in the U.S. - and the Liberty trip to the Smithsonian that the WaPo wrote about - Liberty paleontology professor Marcus Ross positedthat dinosaur bones were "deposited at the late stages of Noah's flood," which he pinpoints as happening "four and a half, or five thousand years ago."
So when Glenn Beck rails about universities indoctrinating students, it's worth keeping in mind what he considers the kind of place that "your kids can actually learn, and not be filled with a bunch of nonsense."