Inside Higher Ed reports on a study discussed at the annual American Sociological Association that shows the liberalizing effect of higher education on evangelical students. In fact, the liberalizing effect extends not just to those evangelicals who attend universities but also to those who live in more highly educated areas. The fact that colleges would have such influence is hardly surprising (considering, of course, the documented hostility of professors toward their evangelical students and the overwhelming ideological uniformity of that hostile faculty). In fact, this influence has been noted elsewhere.
So none of this is truly “news.” But one thing I did love about the story is the language the study’s authors used. Are these folks dispassionate observers of sociological trends? You be the judge:
“Should college participation rates continue to increase for both evangelicals and the larger U.S. population alike, we would expect evangelicals’ less tolerant attitudes towards ‘threatening’ outgroups, such as homosexuals and atheists, to continue to decline. Such attitudinal shifts could make evangelicals more wary of organized attempts to restrict others’ civil rights and increase adaptation of a ‘live and let live’ philosophy. Increased tolerance could yield greater civil rights protections for groups such as homosexuals who have to date experienced major opposition from the Christian Right,” write Ovadia and Moore.
Ahh, so these changes are all about “increased tolerance” and less restriction on “others’ civil rights.” Never mind that the changes are often the result of browbeating, discrimination, and censorship. “Tolerance” is abounding, so the news must be good.