The Buzz Online

May 18th, 2009

Many readers commented at on our March/April cover story by Kevin Roose '09. Sean Burnside Quigley '10, the president of Brown Republicans, clarified the role of evangelical conservatism:

"I worry that [Roose] still views defenders of the traditional European order as being necessarily welded with evangelical religion, low-church banter, moralizing politics, authoritarian social controls, and laughable attempts at interpreting the Scriptures.

"As a traditional New England conservative who calls Rhode Island his home, I am quite disconcerted that the public seems to embrace the fallacy that Liberty-esque evangelicals make up the conservative base. Let me be clear: there is nothing conservative about an attack on cultured behavior 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 R.I. 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.)

"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 moralizing, and strong views of the role of a Christian government—is home to a type of progressive authoritarianism. Never conflate the two."

A student who identified herself as Elizabeth from the Class of 2012, urged Roose to check out Quakerism: "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."

By far, though, most of the comments were posted by Liberty University students, faculty, and alumni writing about their experiences at Liberty, some satisfying, some not so much. Dan Butler, Liberty '09, would like to see more Liberty students spend time at Brown: "I wonder, how much indulgence is permissible for 'research purposes?'"

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Related Issue
May/June 2009