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Why Some Religious Colleges go Bad

August 24, 2016

The “drift” of religious colleges in the United States away from sectarian education and direction has been swift. Catholic colleges, in particular, have rapidly moved to become non-sectarian. The University of Notre Dame is a particularly egregious example that has aroused concern of some Notre Dame alumni. But the descent into non-sectarian education is most visible in New York State:

Take a look at the Websites of these formerly “Catholic” colleges and ask yourself what can be done to recover their former strength as “religious” institutions.

Marist                                              Dominican College

New Rochelle                                Iona

Fordham                                         Le Moyne

Mercy College                               Manhattanville

Cazenovia                                       St. Joseph’s

College of St. Rose                      St. Thomas Aquinas

One of the reasons that Catholic colleges in New York State have “gone South” is because many are on the dole. In the 1960s, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and McGeorge Bundy crafted legislation called “Bundy Aid.” Bundy Aid was made available to non-profit, degree granting, accredited colleges and universities in the State of New York. A provision of this legislation provided subsidies to sectarian institutions under certain conditions.

Here are the relevant passages affecting participation of religious institutions in Bundy Aid funding:

1) Institutions may have no denominational control. Boards must be self-perpetuating and a majority (51%) must be laypersons. (Laypersons appointed by a Bishop, for example, would be unacceptable).

2) Institutions may not require courses in religious doctrine or philosophy. Materials such as catalogs detailing degree requirements may be used as evidence.

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