Friday, October 12, 2012

Do Your Homework!

When one inquires of a graduate school, one usually looks up some information on a particular program. Most, if not all, universities/colleges have websites that describe their graduate programs. I'm going to tell of an experience I had one week ago which will explain why I mention this.

I attended a graduate school information day at Biola University. They offer a doctorate program in clinical psychology and I was interested in finding out more information. I had already been on the school's website so I knew a lot about this particular program. This information day was supposed to supply more information and an overall experience of what being a doctoral student is like at Biola.

During a Q&A session with current students in the program, a girl probably in her late 20's or early 30's raised her hand to ask a question. Let's name her Maria. She said that she realizes how important religion seems to be to this school and she was concerned about religion being "forced" on her. She mentioned that she was Catholic but doesn't follow her religion at all. When I heard her question and comments, I couldn't help but laugh to myself in disbelief. Let me explain why.

First, if Maria had done her homework properly she would have realized that Biola's clinical psychology program is one of the top integration programs in the country. What this means is that Biola strives to integrate psychology and theology. The program doesn't want to leave the Christian faith at the door when they enter the study of psychology. Furthermore, Biola is an evangelical Christian University. Biola stands for Bible Institute of Los Angeles (the school was originally located in Los Angeles). How could Maria be so oblivious to the faith commitment which Biola stands for? As part of the application process, incoming students must sign Biola's statement of faith which demonstrates the student's agreement to the statement. This is not juts for the clinical psychology program. It is for every undergraduate and graduate program at Biola.

Second, the student panel seemed to beat around the bush when some of them addressed her concern. One girl stated, "I have never felt like any of the professors have forced their views on me. They are very open and accepting." I forgot what another student said but he used a lot of words and time to state the obvious. The reality was this: Biola is a Christian university. That means the school stands for the essential doctrines of the faith and seeks to integrate the faith into every field of study. If Maria doesn't hold to the Christian faith, then this isn't the school for her. Short and sweet. That's what it is. There's plenty of secular schools and even nonsecular schools that don't take their faith serious. Those schools would be much better suited for Maria.

Third, what is Maria talking about when she says, "I don't want to have religion forced on me?" What does that even mean? Does she mean she doesn't want someone to demand for her to hold to a certain set of beliefs and if she doesn't then there will be negative consequences? Does she mean that she doesn't want to learn anything at all about Christianity? If she means the latter, then she needs to seek a different school because of what was mentioned earlier about Biola. If she means the former, then she's certainly misinformed about Biola and Christianity in general. Maybe there are Christian organizations that have dispersed negative consequences for not holding to Christian teaching. That was probably more common in the past centuries than it is today. I have never experienced anything like that and I know of no one who as.

If anything, it is the secular world who forces their beliefs on everyone else and no one complains about that. People are fired from jobs and students are thrown out of schools for not believing the same things as the secular world. The tyranny of secularism is alive and well today. I'm assuming that Maria went to a secular school for her undergraduate degree and I doubt she ever complained about her professors forcing their values and beliefs upon her. She said she's Catholic but doesn't follow it at all so why would she even be concerned about someone trying to change her religion anyway?

Maria should have done research on graduate schools and she should also reconsider her thoughts on what it means to "force" beliefs onto someone. She should think about what that really means and how much it is the secular world who is tyrannical in forcing everyone to believe as they do, not the Christians. Let's be honest.

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