Friday, September 16, 2005

New Christianity Minor at UNC-CH - Update

A week and a half ago I posted that my alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has started offering students a minor in the study of Christianity and culture. In an article yesterday, AgapePress reports: . . .

[O]ne UNC alum, Terry Moffitt of the Family Policy Network, views the Christian-themed course of study as a public relations move by the university, and has concerns about how the program would be implemented. He says, "I think my only question is, in studying the historical foundations of Christianity, are the professors at UNC truly going to give it an objective treatment, or is there an underlying political motive there?"

According to Moffitt, UNC offers courses in Judaic and Islamic studies and has an entire comparative religions department that essentially ignores Christianity. He maintains his belief that the new Christianity minor is a "P-R" strategy designed by the school in an effort to heal its strained relationship with Christian groups on campus, particularly after the lawsuit [three years ago] involving opposition to the freshmen's required Koran-based reading assignment.

However, [sociology professor Christian] Smith is enthusiastic about UNC's adoption of the new Christianity and Culture minor, and he points out that the program is unique, because no similar ones are offered at other state universities. "It's not devotional or evangelistic on the one hand," the professor says, "and on the other hand, it's not out to destroy students' faith. It's purpose is an academic, intellectual liberal arts mission to help people that want to learn more about Christianity -- how it has influenced the world around it over thousands of years and how it's been influenced by the world it's been in -- to learn more about that."


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