It’s no secret that America’s colleges and universities are becoming costlier by the minute — but now there’s far more at stake than just a hit to the pocketbook. According to LifeWay, the primary age when youths leave church is between 17-19 years — approximately freshman year of college for most people.
As young, impressionable students arrive on campus, many are ill-equipped to handle the onslaught of ideological attacks they will face. Combined with an atmosphere that encourages and fosters lots of free time, partying and hookups, it’s no surprise that large numbers — as high as 70 percent — abandon their faith during their college years.
Faithwire recently spoke with Dr. Ben Merkle, President at New Saint Andrews College in Idaho, about the dire state of affairs at universities and colleges across America and a new Christian-led movement giving parents more options (and hope) for their families.
Merkle recently announced “Called Conference” which aims to help today’s youth become the “next generation of cultural leaders.” The conference is a sorely needed antidote for an education system that is largely hostile to the idea of faith and generally aims to churn out students who think the same way.
Watch the entire conversation here:
“It’s pretty gruesome, actually,” Merkle began. “If you could imagine dropping your kids off to be in the boats that were going to land on Normandy beach for the Normandy invasion, versus dropping your kids off at your typical university to begin their freshman year — they’d actually have a better chance of survival landing on the beaches of Normandy,” he said, referring to the eternal state of their souls, not their physical survival.
“It’s is pretty scary what’s happening to most kids being turned away from the faith,” he continued. “If not turned away from the faith, shifted deeply in where their loyalties are and exiting the college campus with carrying all kinds of new burdens guilt shame.”
The financial cost of attending university is also greater than ever. Students are walking away with tens of thousands — even hundreds of thousands — in debt, but it’s the universities themselves who have essentially made a deal with the devil and handed over their ability to be a place of true freedom of expression and thought.
Dr. Merkle says taking federal grant money and becoming “dependent” on that money to survive has made most institutions of higher learning beholden to whatever the federal government dictates. So he tries to avoid them at all costs.
“We won’t take Pell Grants,” Merkle cited as an example. He explained that when the federal government decides to push something such as a new definition of marriage, redefining gender norms, introducing “funky” bathroom legislation — the money they’ve doled out suddenly becomes leverage.
“You’ll see things just on a more subtle level,” he continued. When a school dependent on federal funds goes through something such as a scandal about sexual abuse, there will be inevitably be a federal program attached to it. Then, he argues, “you have Christian evangelical conservative schools that are spending hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars teaching students how to have consensual sex. Schools are capitulating and creating this culture that completely undermines everything mom and dad put into those kids, and in four very short years they come out very different people.”
If you’ve ever wondered why so many self-described Christian schools often cave to worldly dictates that clearly go against God’s Word, it’s often as simple as that: follow the money.
Watching the news and seeing what goes on at colleges these days can be quite depressing for parents of children in high school and younger. It calls into question, for Christians in particular, the very notion of whether or not your child will be better off attending college or not.
But not all is lost, according to Merkle.
“It’s not all doom and gloom,” he told Faithwire. There are some colleges (including his) who pride themselves on remaining self-sufficient, not dependent on federal funding for survival. Beyond his own school, Merkle points to a larger movement on the rise.
“I think one of the things that’s been really remarkable over the last 20 years has been the resurgence of a really vibrant education within the Christian community,” he said. “A movement that actually is starting to build a foundation that can handle these kinds of pressures really well. And so I think just from the K to 12 level you see the classical Christian education movement is one example of this really building a very deep, well-thought-out Biblical foundation for learning.”
In order to help parents and students who desire a higher education without being bombarded with secular indoctrination, Merkle has created the Called Conference. More information on the event can be found HERE.
A solid roster of celebrity media speakers will be attending this year, including Pastor Joe Rigney, Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh, nationally syndicated radio host Steve Deace, Pastor Doug Wilson, filmmaker Darren Doane, and more.
Watch the full conversation on homeschooling, Christians and college, and more HERE.