You really should read Hanna Rosin's New Yorker story about Patrick Henry College, the right-wing Christian school in Virginia that exists largely to train a student body (made up of mostly home-schooled kids) for jobs shaping the government.
Read it even though Rosin seems to find virtually nothing about PHC the least bit alarming -- her article is maddeningly matter-of-fact, while you'll feel the story you're reading is The Stepford Undergraduates or Invasion of the Government Snatchers.
For us snarky secularists, the easy laughs in the story come from the sex stuff -- the fear throughout the school that dating is the primrose path to hell, the resident advisers' practice of monitoring female students' dress to ensure that no outfit reveals the slightest peek of bra. (Violators receive "a friendly e-mail -- 'I think I saw you in dress code violation,' followed by a smiley emoticon.")
But I'm more concerned about the fact that under our noses there seems to have developed a chain of breeding farms intended to produce right-wing ideologues whose goal is to dominate our political life. Parents order home-schooling textbooks and videos from right-wing Christian publishers, the highest-achieving home-schoolers go on to PHC and mingle exclusively with the like-minded, and then -- apparently without ever having sat even for an hour in a classroom with a single person who disagrees with them -- the graduates seem to slide effortlessly into jobs in the government:
...conservative congressmen ... asked [Michael Farris, PHC's founder and president] where they could find homeschoolers as interns and staffers, "which I took to be shorthand for 'someone who shares my values,'" Farris said.... So he set out to build what he calls the Evangelical Ivy League, and what the students call Harvard for Homeschoolers....
Of the school's sixty-one graduates through the class of 2004, two have jobs in the White House; six are on the staffs of conservative members of Congress; eight are in federal agencies; and one helps Senator Rick Santorum, of Pennsylvania, and his wife, Karen, homeschool their six children. Two are at the F.B.I., and another worked for the Coalition Provisional Authority, in Iraq.
Let me pause here and point out that this means we're filling our government with kids who are taught in college that evolution is a lie. Not that they seem to be taught much about evolution at PHC -- the school doesn't have an academic department for any of the sciences, and the only biology professor is in the Department of Classical Liberal Arts -- but what they do learn must be consistent with the school's Statement of Biblical Worldview:
Any biology, Bible or other courses at PHC dealing with creation will teach creation from the understanding of Scripture that God's creative work, as described in Genesis 1:1-31, was completed in six twenty-four hour days. All faculty for such courses will be chosen on the basis of their personal adherence to this view. PHC expects its faculty in these courses, as in all courses, to expose students to alternate theories and the data, if any, which support those theories. In this context, PHC in particular expects its biology faculty to provide a full exposition of the claims of the theory of Darwinian evolution, intelligent design and other major theories while, in the end, teach creation as both biblically true and as the best fit to observed data.
The goal here is nothing less than the transformation of American society, or at least the parts the nouveau Right cares about most, politics and culture:
Referring to [a student debater, Matthew] du Mée, [President Farris] said, "Maybe one day he'll be the one standing before the Supreme Court, arguing to overturn Roe v. Wade." ...
Farris told them at chapel recently that one day "an Academy Award winner will walk down the aisle to accept his trophy. On his way, he'll get a cell-phone call; it will be the President, who happens to be his old Patrick Henry roommate, calling to congratulate him."
The Academy Award part of that vision seems like a pipe dream (though less so post-Mel Gibson); the government part, however, seems rather plausible, given the fact that all doors seem open to these kids wherever there's Republican control (which, in D.C., is everywhere). And PHC plans to build on this success:
Last year, the college began offering a major in strategic intelligence; the students learn the history of covert operations and take internships that allow them to graduate with a security clearance.
All seniors do a directed research project that is designed, Farris told me, to mimic the work that an entry-level staffer would be assigned. "A whole lot of elected members of Congress started off as Hill staffers," Farris said. "If you want to train a new generation of leaders, you have to get in on the ground floor."
Oh, by the way, in PHC's brave new world, women won't be full citizens:
A faction of homeschooling parents lobbied Farris not to admit girls to the college, but he told me that he considered that an "extreme" position. "All women, moms included, benefit from a great education," he said.... Even the most ambitious [female students], those who wake up at 3 a.m. to study, told me without reservation that as soon as they had children they would quit their jobs to raise them.
If you read this story, you might want to follow it up with a more pointed New York Times story from last year, which, among other things, tells us this about Mike Farris:
He has written three legal thrillers involving conservative Christian issues. His latest, "Forbid Them Not," begins with a Democratic landslide in the 2004 elections that leads to a nightmare of laws blocking parents from spanking their children, teaching their children fundamental Christianity or schooling them at home.
As I said when that story first appeared, this is essentially a Protocols of the Elders of Liberalism. And twenty or thirty years from now, the president of the United States might be an alumnus of the college Farris founded.