When Christian Colleges Go Woke

Our Christian schools are under attack from within and without:

There are at least two major ways in which Christianity as a whole – and Christian education in particular – can become fully radicalised and secularised: one is by external assault, and the other is by internal capitulation. Here I want to look at both pressure points, specifically in relation to the war on Christian colleges.

Let me begin with the first means by which they are under attack. The militants have long declared their intentions about targeting churches and Christian education. They are fully aware that Christianity is really the last stronghold remaining that is opposing the activist agendas.

Get the churches to capitulate – by force or by fear – and you pretty much have a complete free run in implementing your radical agendas. The homosexual activists have long known this, so they are working overtime to undermine things like Christian education.

Consider just one of the latest attempts of this. As one article states, legal action is being used against Christian colleges. The piece, which makes for scary reading, opens as follows:

When five unelected super-legislators on the Supreme Court unilaterally amended the Constitution to legalize same-sex marriage in 2015, Chief Justice John Roberts warned that the ruling would pose “hard questions” about the freedom of religious colleges to operate according to their convictions. Former Solicitor General Donald Verrilli said, “It will be an issue.” This week, Roberts’ warning has come to pass, and the time in which Verrilli’s “issue” comes to the fore is now.


On Monday, 33 current and former students at federally-funded Christian colleges and universities launched a historic attack on religious freedom by filing a class-action lawsuit against the Department of Education (DoE). The lawsuit, Hunter et al. v. Department of Education, claims that the DoE violated the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution by granting religious exemptions to Christian institutions that allegedly “discriminate” against “sexual and gender minorities.”

The article continues:

While the lawsuit takes aim at federal funding for colleges and universities like Azusa Pacific University, Baylor University, Bob Jones University, Brigham-Young University, Liberty University, and Fuller Theological Seminary, a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs would likely ultimately impact the conservative Christian colleges and universities that do not receive federal funding, such as Hillsdale College, Grove City College, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), Boyce College, and others.


Taxpayer funding makes some institutions more vulnerable, but if the Senate passes the Equality Act and if President Joe Biden enforces his view of LGBT “rights,” then even refusal to take federal funding will not protect biblical Christian institutions from penalties for “discrimination.”


Of course, the issue also extends beyond colleges and universities. As SBTS President Al Mohler explained on Wednesday, the lawsuit targets “not just Christian institutions, organizations, and ministries, but the churches and denominations behind them.”


“If your church or your denomination cannot establish an institution serving your purpose on your own convictional basis, then you are being denied the right to operate as a church,” he argued. The lawsuit notes that “most of the institutions seeking exemptions are Evangelical Christian institutions,” even though a few of the colleges and universities are Mormon or Seventh-Day Adventist.


Make no mistake — this lawsuit is a direct assault on the religious freedom of conservative Christians who dare to dissent from LGBT orthodoxy and attempt to live out their convictions. https://pjmedia.com/news-and-politics/tyler-o-neil/2021/03/31/new-lawsuit-seeks-to-criminalize-universities-christian-conviction-on-lgbt-issues-n1436592

That is just one of countless attempts to destroy Christianity from without. But sadly all too often Christians are doing a pretty good job of allowing it to be destroyed from within. The truth is, the more woke the culture gets, the more woke the church gets.

And that includes things like Christian colleges. I have often written about this happening, as formerly sound Christian institutions of higher education increasingly succumb to the world around them, and start caving in on so many issues. Thus we have had plenty of Christian colleges happily pushing the homosexual agenda. See here for example: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2018/09/27/christian-colleges-another-one-bites-the-dust/

Or here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2018/08/16/there-goes-another-one-rainbow-capitulation/

And it is not just capitulation to radical sexual agendas. Many of these schools are fully jumping on board the various woke agendas and readily going along with cancel culture. Consider Wheaton College in Chicago, the premier evangelical Christian liberal arts college in America.

I actually was a student there in the mid-80s, and there were worrying signs even back then of it succumbing to the surrounding culture and its secular left agenda items. Sadly it seems to keep getting worse. Consider this recent news item:

Wheaton College will be removing and replacing a plaque honoring a group of alumni who were murdered by an indigenous tribe during a missionary trip to Ecuador. Why? Because it uses the word ‘savage’, the school’s president announced in an email Wednesday.


‘Recently, students, faculty, and staff have expressed concern about language on the plaque that is now recognized as offensive,’ president Philip Ryken said in the email. ‘Specifically, the word “savage” is regarded as pejorative and has been used historically to dehumanize and mistreat indigenous peoples around the world.’


The plaque, which had a home in Edman Chapel, honors Jim Elliot and Ed McCully, two members of the missionary group that sought to spread Christianity to indigenous peoples in Ecuador through Operation Auca. The missionaries spent months exchanging gifts with the Waodani (then known as the Auca) tribe before finally having a face-to-face meeting, which the missionaries considered a success. However, not long after the first meeting, five of the missionaries were speared to death, their bodies thrown into a river by tribesmen.


‘For generations all strangers were killed by these savage Indians,’ the plaque says. ‘After many days of patient preparation and devout prayer, the missionaries made the first friendly contact known to history with the Aucas.’


Although the missionaries were killed, their trip is largely considered a success because it led to a long-term decline in violence among the Waodani people. The plaque was gifted to the Illinois-based liberal arts college 64 years ago by Elliot and McCully’s classmates. It had already been removed by the college as of Wednesday afternoon, according to a photo obtained by The Spectator. https://spectator.us/topic/wheaton-college-plaque-operation-auca-missionaries-savage/ 

Wow. All evangelical Christians know about – or should know about – the incredible story of Jim Elliot and the other four missionaries, and this moving case of martyrdom. I have often written about it, eg: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2015/06/16/notable-christians-elisabeth-elliot/

And yeah, I would call those spearing to death peaceful missionaries “savages” as well. But Wheaton is going woke, and so it cannot allow this to remain. Many concerned folks have already commented on this sad episode. Jon Brown said this: “Woke cancel culture is profoundly anti-Christian. That it finds itself slithering into even the most historically stalwart evangelical institutions ought to concern everyone who cares about freedom.” https://www.dailywire.com/news/not-even-billy-grahams-alma-mater-is-safe-from-pearl-clutching-cancel-culture

And my social media friend Laurie Higgins said this about it:

Wheaton College is really woking up. The administration has removed a plaque honoring missionary Jim Elliot because it described the savage tribe that killed him and four others as “savage.” The word “savage” means “not civilized” or “ferocious, violent, or brutal.” The uncivilized tribe called the Waodani or “Auca” (which means “savage” in Quichua) that brutally killed Jim Elliot, Ed McMully, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming was savage. That’s a fact. So too were the Aztecs, Mongols, and Comanches. And so the “woke” erasure of history continues. Got my kids in and out of Wheaton in the nick of time.

She went on to pen an entire article on this, which ends as follows:

As reported by the Associated Press, “Current student Caitlyn Kasper praised the decision to remove the plaque. ‘Plaques like that have caused pain to people and are almost a symbol of white superiority in their very presences and in how they make people of color feel unwelcome at Wheaton’.”


Does such a plaque cause pain to people? Do people untutored in the doctrine of wokeness espoused in public schools via Critical Race Theory feel pain when seeing this historically accurate plaque? Or is it just the indoctrinated who claim to feel faux-pain?


Is there something intrinsically wrong about feeling pain when confronted by one’s own sin or encountering testimonies of past sinful acts committed by humans? Was the plaque really “almost” a symbol of white superiority? And if this plaque was “almost” a symbol of white superiority, was it such a symbol or not?


Those who have connections to Wheaton College know that this is merely another step in its ongoing Great Awokening. Wheaton has been churning out social justice warriors since at least Obama’s presidential tenure. As the mother of two Wheaton graduates and mother-in-law of two, I say that with no pleasure.


I first wrote about Wheaton’s cultural capitulation in 2010 when the social justice manifesto of the Department of Education was discovered, a “conceptual framework” rife with the woke rhetoric polluting government schools everywhere today.


The comments from these two current Wheaton students point to the larger problems at Wheaton and raise important questions. How is it that Wheaton students are so biblically ignorant and so woke? Is Wheaton continuing in its abolitionist history of boldly confronting and opposing sin at any cost—especially those serious sins that currently find favor among the well-heeled and powerful? If so, why do we hear so little coming out of Wheaton College from either the administration, faculty, or students about the grievous harm and injustice being done to children by the homosexuality community and “trans” cult? Could it be that Wheaton is tutoring students in the ways of soft-peddling biblical views of sin while scratching itching ears? https://illinoisfamily.org/education/wokeness-at-wheaton/

‘Go woke, go broke’ is how this is often described. We expect secular corporations to bow down to leftist agendas and the cancel culture. We don’t expect Christian institutions that had folks like Billy Graham and Jim Elliot as students to head down this same deplorable path as well.

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22 Replies to “When Christian Colleges Go Woke”

  1. But Bill, as we all know, all they wanted was the right to get “married”.

  2. Pastor Muehlenberg, I have a message for you and every Christian and conservative on Earth:

    Instead of posing rhetorical questions to state opposition to a policy, like “do plaques hurt people”? Simply and powerfully state, “Plaques do not hurt people” !

    Yours in Christ,
    Dale Summitt
    Trailblazing America

  3. In another forum, the author shared:

    “There has been no other time in world history where almost all of earth’s inhabitants were contemplating the nature of death at the same time with such proximity and possibility.”

    Choices matter to fear not or fear everything.

    The Christian is called the former virtuously; the good and faithful servant, the secularist, to the latter IMHO in hopes of avoiding judgement, for the former The Way, for the latter “the woke”.

  4. Yes Dale. But I don’t think it’s fair to suggest Bill pulls his punches. He is one person who really does have the courage of his convictions. We need more like him. We are at war here and we need warriors not wimps like we hear from every day.

  5. Bill, your Americanness is showing in this! 🙂

    I saw this piece and thought you were referring to Christian schools in Australia – many highschools or combined schools are called colleges.

  6. Thanks Andrew. Well, given that I was born there and lived a good hunk of my life there, I guess it is to be expected that my Americanness is showing!

  7. All good, it’s just a matter of translating into English.

    I’ve a close American friend I still tease about linguistic differences, or being ESL. Then again she has the issue of trying to translate my Commonwealth English into American so … : D

  8. Well Carlos in America they first denied being after marriage civil unions was all they wanted. Before that it was what they did in their bedrooms was their business. I dread the day they discover in the constitution gays have the right to have sex with you. To refuse will be homophobic. How soon till homophobia is a death penalty offense???

    You expect the barbarians to be at the gate but you don’t expect them to be on both sides of it. (let’s tear down this wall and the world can see have great we are. Without the wall no-one will know where the church ends and the world begins or vice versa.) We need to stop trying to cozy up to the world they WON’T accept us unless we become like them in which case we won’t be Christian anymore. A good EMP would force us to rely on each other and God to get through. May God bring whatever judgment is needed to wake up the church she is in a deep sleep.

  9. All of Isaiah 54 esp. verse 17

    “…no weapon forged against you will prevail,
    and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
    This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
    and this is their vindication from me…”


    I have little doubt that homosexual “marriage” is an abomination that causes desolation and when it occurs in Israel (as per Jesus’ prophecy) I still think it may likely prove to be the end-times abomination of desolation. As things stand there simply is no better candidate which could fullfill this prophecy.

    Go forth and multiply was the first command given to mankind so things like abortion and homosexual practice strike at the very foundation of God’s instructions to us. They are listed as mortal sins for very good reasons.

    We now have governments opposing every one of the ten commandments plus all of the Apostle’s doctrine plus God’s instructions to Adam and Eve, so the Beast’s blasphemy against God is very close to complete.

  10. Hi Bill great article, one student in USA who came from Nigeria is reported in the Washington Post as finally have one the right for all students for freedom of speech to share the gospel in USA schools colleges universities. Apparently he when a student got stopped sharing his testimony of salvation in 2013 in a Georgia college even though he gained prior approval to share his story on freedom platform but was arrested as he began to speak. In 2016 he began court action and despite concerted efforts to derail his legal action the Supreme Court finally gave a 8 to 1 decision in favour of the ex student. John Roberts opposed the decision. This should inspire Christian students in Australia to be bolder with wisdom from above.

  11. Hi Bill great article I wonder how much students can counter this . In the early seventies at school we a new Christians explored opportunities to share our faith at high school and saw some significant changes individually as many got the gospel shared to them , as we had more freedom than the one or two real Christian teachers

  12. Bill, thought you would be interested to read a report in a British newspaper today, May 10 2021 – ‘Priest’s LGBT sermon is reported to terror police’

    ‘A school priest was reported to an anti-extremist watchdog for giving a sermon saying pupils are free to disagree with LGBT ideology. The Rev Dr Bernard Randall, 48, was later dismissed with his “career and life” in “tatters”. At independent Trent College near Nottingham, he told pupils being forced to accept the ideas was like being forced to agree on Brexit. He claimed he was flagged to the anti-extremist Prevent programme which targets those at risk of radicalisation, and “had visions of being investigated by MI5”. Police found he posed no risk. Days after the sermon he claims he was called to a meeting and told it was inflammatory, divisive and “harmful to LGBT pupils”. Next month a tribunal will hear this case as he sues for discrimination, harassment, victimisation and unfair dismissal. The school declined to comment.’

    I was really very shocked to read how this poor man has been treated, but not surprised. Intolerance and suppression of any views other than in favour of LGBT issues is now normal and accepted. It seems to be getting worse and I’m worried how all this is going to end – especially for Christians and the church.

  13. Thanks for the link Bill. After reading through it all, I could find nothing offensive or hateful in what Dr. Bernard Randall said in his sermon or that in any way could really upset anybody. In fact, Dr. Randall comes across as a very reasonable, moderate, kind and considerate man. I also realise how much in the dark many people are about what is really going on behind the scenes and many are too scared to speak about it. The way children are being forced to accept certain beliefs in our schools today is truly shocking. Dr. Randall is, in my opinion, brave and courageous and the College where he worked has lost a good and honest man.

  14. That’s the sad thing Christine nothing objectionable but since it was in disagreement it was hate. Only agree equals love now. Different think is hate. That is the world we live in.

  15. My 17 year-old is a stellar student and devout Christian. Her mother and I have long thought of Wheaton as our first choice of schools for her. She has shared that interest. We are saddened to read that Wheaton is going woke. I’m acutely aware of the travesty of similar orthodoxies. I’ve lived in Cambodia and China where they led to millions being killed and heard firsthand accounts of their horrors. In Cambodia, I walked over skeletons in the killing fields before they were picked up or buried. It hurts me to write this, but I won’t send my daughter to Wheaton. I will continue to do everything I can to guard her soul and mind.

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