Are Assemblies Of God higher educational institutions losing the culture war?

There’s no doubt about it – AG higher education has been dealt a blow to the head, and we are reeling under the multi-faceted attack!

Mind you, the battle is not over –victory is still possible. But as you ponder the increasingly godless and anti-life direction of American society, have you wondered why the battle is so one-sided?

Look no further than our own Assemblies of God colleges and universities. The segment of those schools populations (every school is different, often depending on their own cultural/regional environment) where incoming students are attending with little biblical knowledge, is frightening. Many new students are from broken homes lacking a wholesome family model, and where Hollywood “image making” is increasingly determining ethical standards. [I’m an old man, but I’m not expecting cultural norms to conform to the 1950’s when I was in college ( – like when we used to say of NCBI in Minneapolis that “they are so strict they won’t even put the knives and forks together in the cafeteria!!”J)] I embrace the need to stay relevant inside the movement of culture and inside the requirement to constantly redefine Christendom’s tenants without moving the foundation stones of the faith once delivered to the saints. NO MEAN TRICK THAT! But we must try.

Even the Roman Catholic Church is sounding the alarm at the powerful attacks of the Secular Progressives in American society. Because I used to be a part of the International Pentecostal/Roman Catholic Dialogue for many years, I still get Catholic literature warning its constituents in America about its own universities “where students are more likely to become atheists or agnostics than to become capable defenders of the Faith.” From one of its college presidents (Christendom College, Front Royal, VA) comes this shocking example of recent events on U.S. Catholic campuses:

  • “Sex Positive Week,” sponsored by university feminist and homosexual groups.
  • A talk called “Relationships Beyond Monogamy” presented by a pornographic film director.
  • “Color of Queer Film Series,” featuring a movie about a male police officer who seduces a 12-year-old boy.
  • Transgender Awareness Week, during which students were encouraged to come to class in “gender-bending” outfits.

“How is this possible?” the president asks. “It’s simple: Most ‘Catholic’ schools aren’t really Catholic anymore” he states. Though he knows there are many reasons for this, he cites one of the most significant as being the “corrupting effects of federal government subsidies” which began in 1965 when LBJ’s Ominibus Education Act made millions of federal dollars available to colleges – “in exchange, you might say, for their souls…” said the president, Dr. Timothy O’Donnell, of Christendom College. O’Donnell is pleading for individual gifts from Catholics to help keep his college free from federal subsidies. At present, Christendom College is subsidy free.


What about Assemblies of God colleges and universities? In our 19 recognized accredited institutions, government subsidies have indeed made inroads into the “rules of the game,” but we’ve generally maintained a higher standard than the cases he cites above. BUT LOOK AT WHAT’S COMING DOWN THE PIKE!

Are you aware of the recent health-care reform – a.k.a. “ObamaCare” – that it includes a federal takeover of the student loan industry? Under the stated purpose of cutting out the “middle man” private banks, I believe there’s an ulterior motive inside the move to socialism (my opinion). The common denominator is control. No student will be able to get a federally guaranteed educational loan without the consent of a federal bureaucrat! This opens the door to political loyalty as a test for educational advancement. It will make American higher education extraordinarily vulnerable to political interference creating barriers to religion and other disfavored topics where religious colleges and universities will be the target. Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, concurs:

“It is not hard to imagine, for example, that secular institutions will

fare better than religious ones under Direct Lending. The secular Left

bristles with hostility to public expressions of faith. Some of the

current flashpoints are campus religious groups that refuse on

religious grounds to accept gays into their leadership; campuses

that display the Christian cross in their chapels; and sectarian

colleges that promote the idea of intelligent design.”

O’Donnell looks at our increasingly anti-Christian government and expects it to require that any school receiving federal funds be ordered to provide contraceptives in its student health center, and allow “gay/lesbian” student groups to operate on campus among other forces counter to Judeo-Christian ethics.

Are we prepared as Assemblies of God ministers and laypersons to accept this potential and permit the “secularization” of our higher religious educational program, started in San Francisco in 1919 now resulting in 19 colleges and universities and seminary with a combined enrollment of 17,000 students? If the above is forced upon us, I believe we would say NO to federal funding and it would be the ruin of the majority of our colleges, if not all. In some, 80% of the students take subsidy/loans. If allowed to fail, half of our schools would probably never recover.


Why, in the two California Universities of the Assemblies of God is one supported by less than 5 percent of the AG churches that own it – and the other only about 20 percent? Should not “owner support” be a national concern and a report made for all our universities and colleges as to the financial realities coming from Districts and/or regions who are legally responsible for their administration?


Can our Movement survive if we should decide to continue to neglect this vital obligation and let others impact/form the minds and souls of our own children?

The Secular Progressive element in these United States will be glad to do that for us with the tax structure and their agenda! But, we are not powerless. We can shrivel into “has beens” or we can rise to a level of responsibility (it will be as expensive as any war) to which we should have arisen 30, 40 years ago when the first signs of this culture war showed its ugly head.

If we should choose to fight this war and free ourselves from federal money, it would no doubt impact heavily upon the faculty and administrations of some of our schools and require the consolidation of the 19 into perhaps 4 or 5 regional universities (much like is happening in the headquarters city now with three of the national total). Face it, there has been healthy (?) competition between schools and regions. In war, however, the Navy should not be in competition with the Air Force! In many ways, we are talking about a “paradigm shift.” It will take at least a decade of planning and painful restructuring besides tripling the financial commitment of churches and individuals who will come to believe in the preservation of the mission of truth vs secular lies. LET’S WAKE UP AND SMELL THE GUNPOWDER.

** If you are wondering why Del Tarr is writing about this issue – you might check the “vitae” section of this web site to see what he’s been doing since 1952.

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