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In general, the Bible rewards risk takers. Consider the case of Noah, who built a giant Ark on a tip from God and, in doing so, saved the world from extinction. Or Abraham, who, after agreeing to sacrifice his son, Isaac, in order to prove his faith, was allowed to spare him at the eleventh hour. Or even the Prodigal Son, who ran away from home and wasted his inheritance money, then returned to a family who not only forgave him immediately—they threw him a lavish welcome-home party.

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Photos by Jeremiah Guelzo/Stone Blue Productions
Roose leafs through a Bible in front of the R.C. Worley Prayer Chapel on Liberty's campus. 
So when I left Brown in January 2007 to spend a semester at Liberty University, the Reverend Jerry Falwell's "Bible Boot Camp" for young evangelicals, I should have been more optimistic about my fate. But I couldn't be. I was too worried about fitting in. After all, Liberty is one of the most conservative Christian schools in America. It has strict Baptist social rules (no drinking, smoking, cursing, dancing, or R-rated movies), required courses such as Creationist Biology and Evangelism 101, and a religious and political mission set in place by Falwell, the late Moral Majority leader and longtime foe of the secular left, who founded Liberty in 1971 to train "Champions for Christ." And, unlike most Liberty students, I wasn't a budding member of the Religious Right. In fact, quite the opposite—I was a fairly typical Brown student. I concentrated in English lit, sang a cappella with the Jabberwocks, wrote op-ed columns for the Brown Daily Herald, and attended the occasional antiwar protest on the College Green. I was politically liberal and, despite having been raised in a Quaker family, mostly God-ambivalent—as was pretty much everyone I knew. Having spent my entire life inside an ideological echo chamber, I wanted to explore the other side of the God Divide, to undertake a cross-cultural experiment that would connect me to my evangelical peers and help me build a bridge between my world and theirs.

I decided to go undercover at Liberty during the fall of my sophomore year. The summer before, I had visited Liberty's Lynchburg, Virginia, campus to help my boss—A.J. Jacobs '90, editor-at-large at Esquire—research a chapter in his book The Year of Living Biblically. While waiting for him to finish an interview one day, I chatted up a group of Liberty students in the lobby of Falwell's megachurch. They told me about Liberty's top-ranked debate program, its Division I athletics, and its incredible growth rate—from 154 undergrads in 1971 to more than 10,000 resident students today, making it the largest evangelical Christian school in the world. While listening to the students talk, I was shocked —and somewhat ashamed—by how little I knew about their world and how hard it was for me, an outsider, to communicate with them. As I left the church that day, I had so many unanswered questions: What do Liberty students learn in class? Do they go on dates? Do they watch Entourage? What, exactly, does a Champion for Christ believe? And just how wide is the culture gap that separates us?

A few months later, I decided to search for answers. Thinking that a semester-long sojourn at Bible Boot Camp might make for interesting reading, I put in my transfer application and met with a Brown dean to see if I could study for a semester at Liberty and then write a book about my experiences. "I don't think a student has ever asked me that," he replied. "Actually, I'm sure no one has."

My parents, staunch liberals who worked for Ralph Nader in the 1970s, were mortified. Didn't I want to go backpacking in Europe instead? What about an internship? My roommate at Brown, a gay black activist who can quote Judith Butler chapter and verse, briefly stopped talking to me. Other friends wondered about my ability to cope with Liberty's conservative social rules, especially the one prohibiting all romantic contact beyond hand-holding. I got a lot of jokes along the lines of "A semester with no sex? And this will be different—how?"

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At the University Library, certain texts were required reading.
But my mind was made up, and at the end of the fall semester I packed my belongings into boxes and bags and headed south to Bible Boot Camp. In the months that followed, I sat through classroom lectures on young-earth creationism and the evils of homosexuality. I accompanied a group of Liberty students on a spring-break mission trip to Daytona Beach, where we tried (and mostly failed) to convert barhopping coeds to our particular strain of Christianity. I went to evangelical hip-hop concerts, tried my hand at Christian dating, and attended a meeting of Every Man's Battle, Liberty's on-campus support group for chronic masturbators.

Like any good twenty-first-century college student, I opened a new Facebook account immediately upon arriving at Liberty. I already had an account at Brown, of course, but a friend warned me that not having a profile in Liberty's Facebook network would probably raise some suspicion among my Christian classmates. (Actually, the way she put it was, "You should just carry a sign that says: I'M A JOURNALIST.") During the first few days of school, I browsed Liberty's Facebook network for hours on end, gawking at the vast differences between my friends back at Brown and the people I was meeting at Liberty. A page called "Network Statistics" described the contrast pretty clearly; among Liberty students, it said, the most-listed "Favorite Books" were the Bible, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, and C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity—three solid Christian classics. At Brown, on the other hand, those spots went to Harry Potter, The Great Gatsby, and Lolita—a trio of novels about witchcraft, bootlegging, and pedophilia. (Unfortunately, the statistics confirmed more stereotypes than they broke: in the "Interests" category, Liberty's most-listed item was "God," and Brown's was "Ultimate Frisbee.")

At first glance, my new world seemed to have nothing at all in common with my old one. While the traditional dating scene at Brown is famously nonexistent, many Liberty students marry before they graduate. Professors begin every class with prayer, and creation-studies tests contain questions like "True or False: Noah's Ark was large enough to carry various kinds of dinosaurs." (If you're curious, the answer is True; according to my professor, since dinosaurs and humans cohabited the earth after the Flood, they would have had to find a way to squeeze onto the Ark. He suggested they might have been teenage dinosaurs so they'd have taken up less space.) In fact, Liberty makes no bones about its distaste for schools like Brown. In one section of "Give Me Liberty," an introductory booklet given to me during orientation week, I was surprised to see, as an example of Christian education gone wrong, the name of my alma mater. The section, called "Where Visions Go to Die," begins:

As we consider [Rev. Falwell's] vision ... it is important to realize that we are not the first school to seek these lofty goals. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Brown were all started by churches that wanted to train students to serve Christ... However, over time the priorities of these colleges shifted, and they started to focus on increasing the perceived quality of education rather than the spiritual life of the campus. Eventually, these schools achieved their academic goals, but they did so at the expense of their original Christian purposes.... Will Liberty fall into the same trap that these universities did, abandoning our Biblical worldview in the name of contemporary academics?

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Liberty T-shirts include some expressing solidarity with Reverend Jerry Falwell.
As the semester went on, of course, my view of Liberty became more nuanced. I spent more and more time getting to know my hall-mates, and I learned that they weren't the angry zealots I'd feared. They didn't spend their free time sewing Hillary Clinton voodoo dolls and penning angry missives to the ACLU. They played intramural sports, gossiped about girls, and complained about their exams, much like every other group of college students in America. And that realization—that you could be both an extremely conservative Christian and a perfectly likeable human being—wreaked havoc on my secular worldview.

I had gone to Liberty with the intention of keeping an open mind, but I never expected my beliefs to shift under my feet. After two months or so at Liberty, though, that's what happened. I started enjoying Liberty's thrice-weekly church services. I began to sing along to the hymns. I experimented with prayer and found, to my surprise, that I liked it. I made some good friends, including a wisecracking football player from South Carolina, an evangelical feminist from Kansas, and a foul-mouthed rebel from New Jersey who wanted desperately to lose his virginity before marriage. The students who had once frightened me with their spiritual intensity were now my friends, my hall-mates, the kids I sat next to in the cafeteria, and it became impossible to write them—and their faith—off as crazy or irrelevant.

The most mind-bending moment of my semester came in late April, when I was given the chance to profile Dr. Falwell (as Liberty students call him) for Liberty's campus newspaper, in what turned out to be the last print interview of his life. Before coming to Liberty, I'd thought that Falwell was the gold standard for religiously motivated bigotry—he was, you'll remember, the guy who said on national TV after the terrorist attacks of September 11, "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way—all of them who have tried to secularize America—I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'"

And yet, meeting Falwell in person, I saw a different man than the red-faced demagogue I had loathed from afar. He spoke fondly of his grandchildren and told me about his lifelong love of practical jokes. He prayed for me and signed my Bible as a memento. He steered our conversation clear of his political controversies, and, as a result, he came across as a funny, folksy religious leader, not a hate-spewing fundamentalist. When he died two weeks after our interview, most of my friends in the secular world took it as cause for celebration. (A dozen Brown friends e-mailed me copies of an article titled "Ding Dong, Falwell's Dead.") But I mourned in earnest, remembering how kindly he had treated me.

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Roose met with Falwell in his office two weeks before the Reverend died in May 2007.
In many ways, my semester at Liberty was just as formative—and the experiences just as foreign—as a semester in Tokyo or Barcelona would have been. I learned what Jesus meant in the Parable of the Sower, and what the Council of Trent decided about the nature of God's grace. I learned that "PK" is short for "pastor's kid," that Jerry Falwell drank a bottle of Diet Peach Snapple every afternoon, and that some hard-line evangelicals—even those with bumper stickers that read "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!"—are capable of introspection, doubt, and a certain measure of compromise.

Liberty never made me a right-wing Christian, and it never made me sympathetic to the most conservative parts of the evangelical worldview. Even while interviewing Falwell, I remember thinking that complimenting the grandfathering skills of a guy who blamed 9/11 on feminists and homosexuals was a lot like complimenting the builders of the Death Star for their metalwork: even if true, it was sort of beside the point. And throughout my semester, I never closed the gap between my two worlds.

But I did start to see that Liberty and Brown shared some unexpected similarities. Both schools produce young idealists who are both passionate about changing the world and more likely than not to act on that passion. Both foster academic life outside the classroom; on any given night in my Liberty dorm, you could find a dozen guys talking about the Reformation, hashing out complex theories of salvation, or debating the timing of Christ's Second Coming. Both schools are at their best when they cultivate real critical thinking and challenge conventional wisdom, and at their worst when they ostracize those who don't fit the mold.

And, most importantly, neither school is as homogenous as it seems from the outside. Just as Brown's reputation for left-wing hedonism fails to take into account its non-partiers, its religious groups, and its chapter of the Brown Republicans, Liberty has its share of people you wouldn't expect to find at Jerry Falwell's college: doubters, skeptics, even a few Obama supporters.

Near the end of my semester there, my friend David Leipziger '09 (who, as a gay Jewish liberal, would finish second only to my ex-roommate in a contest of stereotypical Brown students) decided, out of perverse curiosity, to come visit me. He stayed for an entire weekend, and the most amazing thing happened: he got along with everyone. Nobody knew anything about him, of course. Things wouldn't have gone so smoothly if David had come out to my Liberty friends, or if he had started a sentence, "See, at my bar mitzvah ..." But he didn't, and although he never felt entirely comfortable shielding certain elements of his identity from public view, his visit to Liberty was surprisingly pleasant. He watched movies with my roommates, accompanied me to church, and spent time getting to know my Christian friends, all without incident. I remember watching him play a game of pickup basketball with a small group of my hall-mates and being overcome by a feeling of existential warmth, a feeling that maybe the distance between Brown and Liberty wasn't as vast as I'd once thought. I realized that, in defining David and myself as the ultimate pretenders at Liberty, maybe I had forgotten that when it comes to our cultural and political associations, we're all pretenders. Real people are never as simple or unambiguous as the ideologies we choose to adopt.

After my semester at Liberty was over, I packed my bags again and prepared for my return to Brown. The next fall, my reentry shock was worse than I'd expected. Everything that had once been so familiar—professors who don't pray before class, debauched frat parties, the presence of actual, hand-holding gay couples—now seemed utterly alien to me. I lost sleep worrying that Liberty had screwed up my perspective permanently, that I'd never feel at home at Brown. Luckily, after a month or so of frantic re-acclimation, I gradually settled back into my old life. I rejoined the Jabberwocks. I picked up my Herald column where I'd left off. I even trained myself to curse again, though it still feels a little weird to let loose with a string of expletives, as if I'm auditioning for a David Mamet play.

Now, almost two years later, I still see traces of Liberty everywhere I look. When the Bible comes up in one of my classes, I'm transported back to Old Testament Survey lectures, where I learned the stories of Israel's patriarchs and got a solid foundation in quasi-obscure Biblical references. (Note to Brown students: name-dropping Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in an English seminar will make your classmates look at you funny.) When I see a group of Brown activists protesting economic injustice in the Third World, I think of my Bible-study sessions at Liberty, where I pored over Jesus's teachings about helping "the least of these." And last November, on election night, as I celebrated the arrival of a political savior with several thousand other Brown students, my thoughts turned to a church in Lynchburg, Virginia, where I'd seen the same mass jubilation every Sunday during worship.

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A mural in Liberty's campus prayer room, where students go to study and read the Bible.
Today, I'm not the person I was at Liberty. Not entirely, anyway. I no longer attend regular church services, and I don't abstain from R-rated movies. But I still pray several times a week—both out of habit and because I'm much more comfortable with the idea of an attentive God than I ever was as a jaded Quaker youth. I'm not an evangelical, it's true, and I'm still working out the details of my own faith, but I'm taking temporary solace in the fact that at least one of my weaker virtues—tolerance—seems to have been given a boost by my time at Liberty.

After meeting hundreds of evangelical students with hugely complex personalities, and finding shades of gray in a world of black and white, I find myself wincing when a friend from Brown starts railing on "crazy pro-lifers" or "stupid Bible-thumpers," just as I would politely object if a Liberty student characterized the secular left as a bunch of "tree-hugging baby-killers." To be sure, most students at both schools don't engage in such extreme caricature. But I can't help thinking that for the few who do, a little exposure to the other side might change their minds. It certainly worked for me.

A few months after leaving Liberty, I went back to tell my friends there—who still didn't know I was writing a book about them—about my true identity and my motives for coming. I expected them to be angry, but strangely, they all forgave me immediately and unconditionally. That cleared my conscience, of course, but it also reaffirmed the guiding hope of my semester: that a Brown student could get along with a Liberty student despite their differences, that friendship could trump faith, and that I could transcend my own prejudices by putting myself in the shoes of people I didn't necessarily agree with.

Now I'm left to wonder what's next. Will the American culture wars go on indefinitely? Will tree-huggers and Bible-thumpers continue to talk past one another? Or will we be able to stop ourselves, listen, and learn?

In deo speramus, indeed.

Kevin Roose's book about his Liberty experience, The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University, will be published March 26. He plans to graduate from Brown next winter.

For more information about Kevin, go to www.kevinroose.com.

Further Reading: 

- Liberty University Students React to Roose





Comments (27)
03/13/09
 
We need to pray for this soul. Christ died for him just as he did for us. Our God always comes through in the end.
 
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03/15/09
 
Interesting article. I just happened to randomly bump into it while surfing the Internet. Theres no way that I would ever fit in at Liberty as I am at the other extreme end, but it was interesting to read as you were actually able to bridge the differences. 
 
As for my background, I have a brief bio at Browns CSAtrium - message # 8. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CSAtrium/ 
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CSAtrium/message/8 
(Not included in the above posting) I finished the program in 2 1/2 years and graduated magna cum laude. 
 
The brief note in the above bio regarding a swipe or two at the "Young Earth Creationists" 
is more than a swipe or two. My Creationism = Willful Ignorance web page http://www.durangobill.com/Creationism.html averages nearly 100 hits per day. Its deliberately designed to antagonize Young Earth Creationists; and if you run a Google search using or , it frequently is the number one hit in the results. 
 
I dont think it will ever be possible for scientists (and in particular, geologists) to coexist peacefully with religious fundamentalists, but your article was interesting as you obviously were able to bridge the gap. 
 
Bill
 
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03/17/09
 
As an alumni (and continued supporter) of LU, I want to thank Kevin for taking the time to experience LU. Too many people see fit to blast the school and Dr. Falwell without ever getting to know the students, teachers, and founder. Continue to seek after God for He will be found by those who seek Him with their whole hearts.
 
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03/18/09
 
Kevin, I greatly enjoyed your article on a semester at Liberty. I earned a MDiv at Liberty, have several family members on staff at LU, and pastor a "Bible-Thumping" church in rural Maryland. Sometimes it takes one from the outside to prompt self-examination. In some respects, that is one thing Jesus accomplishes - a confrontation with personal belief.  
 
A moving article about Jerry Falwell can be found at the LA Times, by Larry Flint: My Friend,Jerry Falwell. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-op-flynt20may20,0,2297247.story?coll=la-opinion-center. Larry Flint, the publisher of Hustler magazine, had a long friendship with Dr. Falwell.  
 
Thank you again. I look forward to the book.
 
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03/18/09
 
Kevin, 
 
Even as an LU grad (class of 1990) or maybe because of that, I enjoyed your article. It may be one of the best I've seen at dispelling the myth or belief that conservatives, right-wingers or whatever anyone wants to call the people of LU are anything other than normal humans. 
 
You have a promising career as a writer and I wish you well and good luck on the book.
 
Chris
03/18/09
 
Kevin, 
What a great experience. I loved your article and wish you the best with your book. Yes, I think you are right..those of us on the right and left do have a lot in common and aren't as kooky as the press leads others to believe. 
 
I wish you the best in your spiritual journey. 
 
God Bless! 
 
Julie
 
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03/19/09
 
Kevin, 
 
Thank you for your honest take on my beloved Liberty. My years there are some of my fondest memories. I am glad to see that they will be the same for you. I can't wait to read your book. 
 
Peace and Much Power, 
Kara
 
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03/19/09
 
Kevin, 
After I heard about your book, I was very interested in the conclusion to your experience here. I am so refreshed that Liberty, from an outsider's view, isn't as close-minded as most would assume. As an RA at Liberty, I am sure there are many here who will realize the same about others outside of the "Liberty Bubble." I definitely think we as Liberty students could use a little more venturing out of comfort zones to enrich our worldviews and force us to "give a defense to everyone who asks [us] a reason for the hope that is in [us]" (1 Peter 3:15).
 
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03/19/09
 
I love it! I actually thought about doing the same thing without the book part at one point, but then I decided that since I'm bi it would be too hard emotionally. Kudos to you, though! 
 
As a Christian Quaker who loves God and loves the Bible and prays a lot, I'm just bummed you couldn't find anything in Quakerism. Oh well, we try. There's a young adult Friends group we've just started at Providence meeting, if you want to come sometime-- 6 pm mondays at Finlandia co-op, or email This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it
 
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03/19/09
 
Hey, 
 
I just graduated from Liberty University. I really enjoyed this article. I hope that God will use your time and experience at Liberty to bring you closer to Him and that it will help shape your life. 
Josh
 
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03/19/09
 
It makes me happy to read a well written piece on a well deserved topic. 
 
I would love for Liberty students to spend some time at Brown - and I wonder, how much indulgence is permissible for "research purposes"?
 
Dan Butler, B'09
03/19/09
 
Hi Kevin: 
 
Loved the article! I'm a professor at LU in the business program. In addition to having taught at LU for the last 3 years, I've also been a student and professor at some other evangelical/televangelist-founded universities: Oral Roberts University and Regent University (founded by Pat Robertson--another dear friend of the Left... ;) 
 
Anyway, I feel your passion for stepping outside stereotypical judgements about others' political beliefs and worldview. My heart longs to get past the name-calling and intolerance and to truly grapple with the most important issues of our day (and indeed, our existence as humans). I've had a lot of interesting discussions over the years about my faith with those that don't believe and it's always been illuminating.  
 
I don't know if I'll ever have all of the knowledge I need to fully account for every belief that I have--I would need to have PhD's in the various fields of science, theology, history, etc., etc. to do so. But I do seek to understand my faith in Christ logically and coherently, and in so doing, feel compelled by Christ Himself to seek out the differences in worldview beliefs and understand why we disagree.  
 
I've found that most of the time, members on the right and left actually have the same passions and concerns--justice, caring for the poor, etc., etc. but because we have somtimes radically different starting points for our worldviews, we tend to come up with very different solutions. Still, I'm convinced that if we could divest ourselves of some of the emotional "heat" associated with our beliefs, we might find more common ground than we realized, and I say that as one who is intellectually and philosphically enraptured with Jesus Christ as the savior of mankind, the Good Shepherd become sacrifical Lamb, the God-man, and He who provides us the best epistemological, ontological, and axiological resolutions to all that makes us ache metaphysically.  
 
Perhaps if would just not take ourselves so seriously, if we could laugh at ourselves and approach our disagreements with winsomeness and graciousness, we could really have some meaningful conversations, disagreements, and fun. 
 
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm late for a meeting of my "Christian Radicals Bent on Taking Over the World via Bible-Thumping, Military Conquest, and/or Multi-Level Marketing" seminar... 
 
Just kidding on that last bit... ;) 
 
Much love, 
Kahlib Fischer
 
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03/19/09
 
This is great, Kevin! I've studied at left-leaning and right-leaning schools, too, and also found the experience enriching. Doubtless a large part of what makes the "other" so strange to us is that we have never really tried to meet her, to know her, which is our great loss. "All real living is meeting" (Buber).
 
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03/19/09
 
Kevin, 
 
If the rest of the world approached life the way you are doing so, this generation would be so different, for the better. You are a credit to mankind and a great soul. Those of us who understand you and believe in you are confident that you will find contentment in life and ultimately discover your Creator and Redeemer when you are ready. No one who approaches life the way you do can come to the wrong conclusion. We wish you and your fellow students at Brown all the best and hope your life is filled with joy and happiness. I hope your book is a great success. You are a powerful writer and should enjoy a wonderful career as an author if that is your chosen path. 
 
Troy LU 1986
 
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03/19/09
 
Wow Kevin! I loved this article. You are a brilliant writer. I couldn't stop reading. I went to Liberty and I was half faithful - half rebellious.  
I loved Jerry Falwell. He used to drive up on the curb in his suburban and scare students off the sidewalks hahahahaha! He was such a prankster. I think I got the only picture with him without his tie on - so I'm kinda proud of that! 
That is soooo cool that you got to do his last interview. What a memory. It brought tears to my eyes.  
 
I worked for the champion as a news editor and opinion editor - is Mrs. Huff still there? I was her problem child :) I loved those opinion days ... so much fun!  
 
Anyways, sounds like God is working on your heart. It's a journey - but I can testify that it is so rewarding when you feel his love and the love of His family.  
 
Best of luck to you in your career. What a fun adventure you had! Undercover journalist! With that kind of spirit - there is no telling what other mysteries you will discover in this world. 
 
Kind Regards, 
 
Suzanne
 
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03/20/09
 
Sir -- 
 
Mr Roose '09's article is to be cherished for many reasons: it is obviously well researched and well written, but it is also gentle and humble. He is to be commended for his ability to transcend stock descriptions of 'conservative Christians' and 'secular liberals'. 
 
However, I worry that he still views defenders of the traditional European order as being necessarily welded with evangelical religion, low-church banter, moralising politics, authoritarian social controls, and laughable attempts at interpreting the Scriptures. 
 
As the current President of the Brown Republicans and a traditional New-England conservative who calls Rhode Island his home (East Greenwich, to be exact), I am quite disconcerted that the public seems to embrace the fallacy that Liberty-esque evangelicals comprise the conservative base. Let me be clear: there is nothing conservative about an attack on cultured behaviour and elements, whether they be in the form of dancing, tobacco, drinks light and hard, or non-ideological politics. (The Baptist faith, while respectable, tends as a whole towards strikingly unconservative positions, although the example of northern RI Baptists should disabuse most of the idea that Liberty Baptists are the sole type. Liturgical Protestants are, I would say, the most naturally conservative persons.) 
 
I could write much more, but may I end on this note. Newport -- saturated with liquor, class, and a Protestant-Christian religion that understands social and biological realities -- is the true conservative base, while Liberty -- saturated with creationism, socially divisive moralising, and left-wing views of the role of a Christian government -- is home to a type of progressive authoritarianism. Never conflate the two. 
 
With kind regards always, 
Sean Burnside Quigley 
Brown '10
 
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03/23/09
 
Mr. Roose, 
 
I spent 2 years at Liberty also concentrating in English Lit. I loved my time at LU and was extremely shocked when, due to life circumstances, I transferred to Northern Arizona University. Though my experiences were not by choice, I also found that I had much more in common with my classmates than I expected. I loved your article and cannot wait to read your book!
 
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03/23/09
 
Kevin, 
What a well- written article! That natural talent combined with proper academic direction is serving you well!  
 
I actually saw a reference to your book in "Cosmo" magazine, I believe it was, when a fellow student brought it in. Of course, they only talked about your dating experience, but I was very intrigued! 
 
Props to you for your bravery, open-mindedness, and adventurism. I am pleasantly surprised to hear of your growth in appreciation of prayer, convocation, and church, and find it a testament to the natural Spirit-soothing effects of Christian spirituality. I might also add that a continually deepening relationship with God is the most satisfying thing I have ever been part of! (and yes, I have interests in sports, theatre, writing, friendships, serving, and dancing.) Still, I find that a relationship with Christ could never be less satisfying than the average night of enjoyment or mayhem. 
 
Thank you for the enlightenment you have provided to both college campuses! I'm sure even more will benefit from your unabashed honesty. 
 
Sincerely, 
Kailey
 
Kailey Spivey, 2010
03/25/09
 
I really enjoyed your article...We can see that Liberty is not the scary thing that is seems to be. And how GOd makes the difference in our life. 
Can't wait for your book! 
ALl the best
 
Junior
03/27/09
 
I pretty much grew up in the Conservative right and went to Liberty at age 16 in the 70's. I was struggling with my sexual identity, having been abused, and felt the shame, guilt and condemnation of the harsh message. I eventually went into ministry and TRIED to shed my struggle without examining it, attempted suicide and finally realized that I had to step out of my "small box" to examine my struggles in the context of a larger message. That was 15 years ago now and I have pretty much come back to the basics of my faith without the shame, guilt and condemnation. I think Liberty has come a long way since the 70's and its founding. I don't think you would have had the same experience back then and it was encouraging to me to hear the way you were received. We can be taught!
 
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03/30/09
 
Kevin, 
I want you to know how refreshing this article was for me to read. Some of my best friends bash Liberty like it's a disgrace for me to have graduated from there, rather than take the time, like you did, to get to know a place and the people in it. It's eye opening when you realize that the world we live in is never black and white, and the people aren't either. 
Thank you for taking the time to show this to all your readers! Good luck on your book
 
Taylor LU '08
03/31/09
 
Kevin, 
 
I thoroughly enjoyed your article and I agree with most of the favorable comments posted above, but I want to speak up as a Brown alum and evangelical Christian and say that Brown students are not so easily pigeon-holed. 
 
I'm wondering if you're aware that some of the activities you describe as culture shock at Liberty are also happening at Brown University. For example, the spring break evangelism trip to Daytona Beach - Brown has a group called Campus Hill for Christ that sponsors this same type of trip. There are multiple groups of young evangelical Christians that holds Bible studies in New Dorm, sings praise songs in Keeney Lounge, and attends worship services throughout Providence. It might be interesting for you to get to know some of the evangelical Christians at Brown and see how they fit into the mix. 
 
Great article, just wanted to speak up for the evangelicals at Brown.
 
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08/16/09
 
Well done article and a commendable experience. Your respect for and willingness to understand people with different views has made you a richer person. It's a simple but effective model for all of us.
 
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02/18/10
 
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10/13/11
 
The writer was not any of the things these people hated. He only saw the good side of them. His friend still had to hide his identity, as if he should be ashamed at the fact that he was gay or Jewish. I can praise the fact that the writer crossed a great divide and understood that not all Christian people are cruel, but I personally can never forget the friends that I've lost due to the cruelty of ignorant self declared "Christians."
 
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10/12/11
 
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