Joe Biden’s Latest Target — Christian Colleges

Joe Biden’s Latest Target — Christian Colleges
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona

By Jon Schweppe

For three years, the Biden administration has weaponized the United States government against its citizens. From siccing the Department of Justice after parents for protesting school board meetings, to a recently finalized Department of Health and Human Services rule that could remove children from foster families that don’t buy into the lie of transgenderism, this administration has embraced a “woke” brand of authoritarianism and thrown tolerance and decency out the window.

Now, Biden’s stooges are feasting their eyes on a new target: Christian colleges. The reason for this crusade is twofold: to protect the higher education cartel from any potential competition, and to persecute any Christian institution that refuses to bend the knee to cultural marxism. The regime is sending a message: resistance to left-wing orthodoxy, even under the banner of religious freedom, will no longer be tolerated.

In October, the Department of Education (USED) slapped the Arizona-based Grand Canyon University with a $37.7 million fine, the largest fine in the department’s history. GCU happens to be the country’s largest Christian school with more than 100,000 students enrolled each year. Given the substantial size of the fine, it’s important that the allegations be commensurate with the severity of what is alleged — but that doesn’t appear to be the case here.

USED alleges that GCU misrepresented the cost of earning a doctoral degree and falsely advertised in its marketing materials. The department determined that the university misled “7,500 former and current students about the cost of its doctoral programs over several years.” However, these claims don’t seem to hold water within our judicial system, as a federal court already dismissed similar claims in a suit brought by a plaintiff against the school. Separately, a Wall Street Journal editorial headlined “Biden’s Regulators Gang Up on a Christian College” notes that USED’s allegation “appears to be false … doctoral students comprise fewer than 5 percent of GCU’s enrollment.”

The $37.7 million dollar fine for comparatively minor allegations by a Christian school is a bit ironic compared to other fines issued by USDE. Don’t forget — the Department only fined Michigan State $4.5 million for underreporting sex crimes, including abuse of hundreds of women by former team doctor, Larry Nassar.

Unfortunately, the true motivation here isn’t so much about the what, but rather about the who. GCU is a proud Christian school, and that may explain why USED decided to hand out its largest disciplinary fine in history. As the school advertises, it creates “an environment that places ethics and Christian values taught in the Bible at the forefront of our educational experience.” And unlike other favored higher education institutions, GCU has kept tuition flat for 15 years to avoid contributing to the ongoing college affordability crisis.

GCU President Brian Mueller continues to maintain that the targeting of its school and students is politically motivated by career bureaucrats and partisan appointees at USED. In a Fox News story, Mr. Mueller alluded to the fact that the ongoing excessive overreach is because of GCU’s reputation as a Christian-centered school. And in a separate statement, he noted, “We need to fight this tyranny from federal government agencies not only to stand up for ourselves but to ensure this type of ideological government overreach and weaponization of federal agencies does not happen to others.”

In fact, GCU has explained in great detail why Biden’s USED is squarely off base in its excessive actions against the school. The school states it is being punished for challenging the USED on several occasions, and for trying to convert into a nonprofit institution, which the Department flatly denied.

Thankfully, GCU hasn’t been alone in this fight. A handful of members of Congress representing Arizona have come to the school’s defense and have rightly highlighted the overreach by USED against GCU. In a November letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona organized by Congressman Eli Crane and signed by Reps. Lesko, Biggs, and Gosar, the Members explained their “serious concern” regarding the fine. They argued that USED’s actions were “an overreach at best” and that the Department should “immediately rescind this fine” and “engage in a more transparent effort to protect religious freedom in the future.”

Hats off to these members of Congress for calling out the Biden administration for what it is so obviously doing: suppressing fair competition in the higher education system and discriminating invidiously against an unfavored college because it dares to publicly live out its Christian faith.

But more is needed. We shouldn’t be willing to allow GCU to join the ranks of Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute, who were driven out of business by the federal government. As USED continues its crusade to close off the ability for students to attend career colleges, vocational schools, and other Christian schools, trapping students in a cycle of indoctrination and indebtedness, it’s more important than ever that our leaders in Congress step up and raise hell.

Jon Schweppe is the Policy Director at American Principles Project.


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