Patrick Henry College

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Patrick Henry College is a Christian institution of higher learning in Purcellville, Virginia. Its vision is to "aid in the transformation of American society by training Christian students to serve God and mankind with a passion for righteousness, justice and mercy, through careers of public service and cultural influence."[1] Its pedagogical approach includes a core liberal arts curriculum with apprenticeship-based majors in government (American politics and policy, international politics and policy, political theory, or strategic intelligence), journalism, history, literature, or classical liberal arts. Founded in 2000 by Michael Farris, it especially welcomes homeschooled students. Its students do extremely well in intercollegiate debate.[2]

Farris, and his wife Vickie, took their 10 children out of public school after hearing an inspirational lecture by Rev. Tim LaHaye. In the 1980s, he opened the Washington chapter of the Moral Majority, and became an ordained minister at a Baptist;LaHaye was on his ordination council. He went to work for Concerned Women for America, chaired by Beverly LaHaye. He established, in 1983, the Home School Legal Defense Association.[3]

It is accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, and recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE).

Biblical view

The college does not discriminate by race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age or disability. As is Constitutionally permitted, "it chooses to limit its student body, board, and staff to those who are committed to its statement of faith. The practice of homosexual conduct or other extramarital sexual relations is inconsistent with the College’s faith position. The College chooses to limit its student body, board, and staff to those who are committed to its statement of faith. The practice of homosexual conduct or other extramarital sexual relations is inconsistent with the College’s faith position."

Academics assume Bible inerrancy. Biology, for example, is taught with creationism as the core discipline and evolution as an alternate theory.

Interactions with politics

The college has a high rate of placement of interns and graduates in the George W. Bush administration and campaign. In the spring of 2004, of the almost 100 interns working in the White House, seven are from this school. An intern works in the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, Iraq works for political adviser Karl Rove, and a third for the [Coalition Provisional Authority]] in Baghdad. Since 2000, 22 conservative members of Congress have employed one or more Patrick Henry interns.

Nancy Keenan, of People for the American Way, told the Independent (UK) "The number of interns [from Patrick Henry] going into the White House scares me to death. People have a right to choose [where their children are educated], but we are concerned that they are not exposed to the kind of diversity this country has. They are training people with a very limited ideological and political view. If these young people are going into positions of power, they have to govern with all people in mind, not just a limited number."[4]

Academic controversies

In 2006, five of the then 16 full-time faculty left their jobs, protesting what they considered Farris' interference with academic freedom. Farris said they "quit because the leadership utilized academic freedom. If somebody wants to quit because they believe we have too strong of a view of the Bible, then so be it. I believe God's going to bless us for standing up for his Word."

Assistant professor of classics David Noe, government instructor Erik Root and theology professor Todd Bates told Chritianity Today that the president had refused them an opportunity to respond to accusations that beliefs they had expressed were biblically unsound. "Farris said that we threatened the college's fidelity to its mission and vision," said Noe. "He spoke to the press, but told us we couldn't." They mentioned his March firing of Robert Stacey, the chairman of the college's department of government, as additional reasons for leaving. Farris wrote them "A public declaration would serve only your personal purposes to appear to be vindicated in the eyes of the students. That is an unprofessional and unchristian motive....In short, no, you do not have my permission to publicly discuss your reasons for departure."

"For the president to say this implies that these men were somehow guilty of blasphemies or heresy," said Paul Bonicelli, PHC's former dean of academic affairs and government professor. "That's not something any Christian should say about another Christian unless you are absolutely sure they have uttered blasphemies or heresy, and we are terribly far away from that here." [5]