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The 10 Most Liberal Christian Colleges in America

By    |   Thursday, 07 May 2015 01:53 PM

While "Christian college" is a term often associated with fundamentalist conservatism, many, if not most, Christian colleges are fairly liberal.

These Christians may seek out a school that acknowledges and even promotes Christianity but avoids doctrinal rigidity and the pervasive indignation of many (though by no means all) conservative Christian institutions. Even the Catholic Church includes a wide range of doctrinal expressions, including the controversial Liberation Theology. Numerous steadfastly Christian scholars engage in debate and fellowship with colleagues of diverse traditions.

The schools listed below make overt statements about their Christian foundations, but all are accepting of other faiths and of a broad range of intellectual traditions. Liberal Christians would feel comfortable in any of them. They are in no order of liberality, as all are similar in their approach to integrating religious, social, and intellectual life and inquiry.

Walsh University, North Canton, Ohio

This is the most liberal Catholic university on the Newman Society's list, with only about half the faculty or student body being Catholic. Nevertheless, it remains founded in the Church. This is the mission of the school: "As an independent, Catholic university, we encourage individuals to act in accordance with reason guided by the example and teachings of Jesus Christ. Our aim is to develop students' mind, body and spirit."

Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minnesota
Although Gustavus Adolphus remains "firmly rooted in its Swedish and Lutheran heritage, it "aspires to be a community of persons from diverse backgrounds who respect and affirm the dignity of all people, and its students are encouraged to work toward a just and peaceful world."

Lindenwood University, St. Charles, Missouri
Lindenwood has a "historical relationship" with the Presbyterian Church and promotes "Judeo-Christian values" of "the dignity of work, the worth and integrity of the individual, the obligations and privileges of citizenship, and the primacy of the truth."

Lyon College, Batesville, Arkansas
This Presbyterian college's covenant with its founding church commits it to such Christian values as hope, peace, servanthood, community, and reconciliation and seeks to guide "Christians of varied backgrounds and persons of other faiths" to find "the holy in their lives."

McKendree University, Lebanon, Illinois
According to the school’s mission statement, "We cherish our historical relationship with the United Methodist Church and its tradition of Judeo-Christian ideals." The Methodist tradition seems inherently liberal: even Southern Methodist University, known for its conservative student body, maintains a politically liberal faculty.

St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota
Some consider St. Olaf a liberal college, though they may be speaking of political rather than religious libertinism. It is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and "provides an education committed to the liberal arts, rooted in the Christian Gospel, and incorporating a global perspective,” according to the college’s website.

St. Augustine College, Chicago, Illinois

St. Augustine is an Episcopal college seeking to make "education accessible to a diverse student population with emphasis on those of Hispanic descent; to strengthen ethnic identity; to reinforce cultural interaction; and to build a bridge to fill cultural, educational, and socio-economic gaps,” according to its website.

Augsburg College, Minneapolis, Minnesota

According to its website, "An Augsburg education is defined by excellence in the liberal arts and professional studies, guided by the faith and values of the Lutheran church, and shaped by its urban and global settings."

Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio
"Wittenberg expresses its Lutheran heritage through its continuing relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,” according to the Wittenberg University website.

Williams Baptist College, Walnut Ridge, Arkansas
A little less liberal than the rest, as you might expect of a Baptist college, "Christ-centered" Williams offers a "holistically Christian, liberal arts education, while compassionately shaping students lives," according to its site. One of its goals is to produce students who can effectively problem solve.

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While "Christian college" is a term often associated with fundamentalist conservatism, many, if not most, Christian colleges are fairly liberal.
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Thursday, 07 May 2015 01:53 PM
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