All over America there used to be (and in many places still are) colleges and universities that have religious roots.
This weekend is a good time to think about that because it was on Aug. 30, 1856, that the Methodist Episcopal Church founded Wilberforce College (now Wilberforce University) in western Ohio. It was just the second institution of higher education in the U.S. created for African-Americans. Click here for some Wilberforce history.
Although nearly all religious communities in America support the idea of public education, paid for with dollars from taxpayers, many also have offered private, or parochial, alternatives. This has been good for America. I say this as someone profoundly dedicated to public education.
It took American society time to adopt the idea that higher education should be publically supported, so most of the early colleges and universities in the U.S. were private, and often they had religious sponsors.
In its early years, even Harvard, founded in 1636, was essentially in the business of training clergy for Puritan congregations, though, as this history says, it never had a formal affiliation with any denomination.
My own denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), long has been a leader in education, creating colleges all over the country. Many still are affiliated in some way with the denomination, though the church now provides precious little funding for them.
And certainly the Catholic Church in this country has created some of our best colleges and universities -- from smaller schools, such as Rockhurst University in Kansas City, to Notre Dame and Catholic University.
Well, no doubt you can name Baptist, Lutheran, Jewish, Mormon, Methodist and other colleges and universities with religious roots and connections. And I say our faith communities deserve thanks for adding much richness to our educational traditions.
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HANGING ON TO VATICAN II
The Vatican secretary of state says Pope Benedict XVI has no intention of reversing reforms adopted by Vatican II. It would be intriguing to read a thorough study of how Catholics around the world now view the changes that came out of the second Vatican council in the 1960s. There indeed still is division, with what I think is a small but dedicated and vocal minority who think Vatican II was a major error, heretical and invalid, while by far most others are on board with most, if not all, of the reforms that emerged. But that's just my guess.
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P.S.: If you missed the lovely eulogy of his father by Ted Kennedy Jr., whom I met a few years ago when he came to Kansas City to give a speech, here's the text of it. Just to clarify, this text misspells the name of author Shelby Foote.
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P.S.: For information about the health care forum I'll be moderating Sunday starting at 3 p.m. at Community Christian Church in Kansas City, click here, then scroll down a bit.