Righting America

A forum for scholarly conversation about Christianity, culture, and politics in the US
Locked and Loaded at Cedarville | Righting America

by William Trollinger

Once again, this blog writes itself. Once again, it is thanks to Cedarville University, where trustees and administrators have been very busy!

Just a few weeks ago the school implemented a “Biblically Consistent Curriculum Policy,” in which faculty are warned not to assign or show material “that may be considered ‘adult’ in nature, that represent immorality, or that may be a stumbling block to students,” a prohibition which includes the injudicious use of images displaying “artistic bareness.”

First sex. Now, violence!

Cedarville has just announced that it would be the first college in the state of Ohio to allow the concealed carry of handguns on campus. While leaders at Ohio’s public universities – and our own University of Dayton — have opposed concealed carry on campus, as of August 1 “faculty, staff and trustees at Cedarville University can start carrying a concealed handgun.” As reported by the Dayton Daily News, “Cedarville touts itself as a safe college campus and its leaders believe allowing concealed carry would ‘further strengthen this reputation.”

Safe college. As our friend Adam Laats discussed in two posts on this blog last week, what evangelical/fundamentalist schools like Cedarville sell is the “promise to keep students safe.” Of course, Cedarville’s policy actually denies students the right to concealed carry . . . but it is hard to imagine that this policy won’t change to allow students to tote guns . . .

But wait a minute. As the New York Times noted in a wonderfully titled May 15 editorial, “Campus Life: Locked, Loaded, and Loopy,” college campuses are “among the safest places in the nation,” and there is no evidence to support “the bizarre premise that students will be more secure from the nation’s epidemic of gun violence if there are more guns.” Loopy indeed. And when it comes to Cedarville, which has an exceptionally low crime rate, how in the world will the school’s new concealed carry policy make the campus safer?

Ah, but this policy is not about physical safety. It is about ideological safety. It is about reassuring the Cedarville constituency that the institution stands squarely on the NRA’s radical interpretation of the Second Amendment. It is about reassuring parents that their sons and daughters are attending a Christian Right college. Safe when it comes to biblical inerrancy and a six-day creation. Safe when it comes to “artistic bareness.” Safe when it comes to toting guns.

But what about Jesus? How does Cedarville’s concealed carry policy square with Jesus? Does what Jesus had to say in, say, the Sermon on the Mount matter in the least?

Good questions.