God on the Quad – Endorsements

Alan Wolfe, author, One Nation After All and, most recently, The Transformation of American Religion:
America’s religious colleges and universities are terra incognita to many liberal and secular readers. Naomi Schaefer Riley offers an insightful, balanced, and respectful guide to this world, one that its own members will find provocative and from which strangers to it will learn a great deal.

Terry Teachout, author, The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken:
Red America-the half that votes Republican-also goes to church every Sunday, and increasingly sends its children to colleges where religion isn’t an optional side dish, but the compulsory main course. What are these schools like? How will their graduates fit into secular life? Or will they? Instead of merely speculating on the basis of second-hand reports, Naomi Schaefer Riley spent a year touring the parallel universe of religious colleges, pen in hand, and brought back a book full of open-minded, sharply observed portraits of a fast-growing corner of America that most of the mass media prefer to caricature or ignore. The results are illuminating–and important.

Coleen Rowley, FBI whistleblower, Time Magazine’s 2002 Person of the Year, graduate of the evangelical Wartburg College (speaking in her personal capacity and furnishing her personal endorsement only) :
I have heard (more than once) a quote by Bishop Desmond Tutu, something to the effect that religion in and of itself is neither good nor bad, but is like a knife, which you can use for good, to peel an apple, for example, or which you can plunge into someone’s belly. Assuming that religious colleges follow suit, with that dual potential for both good and bad effect, not only upon those who attend them, but upon America as a whole, it is no small feat to provide the in-depth, interesting and absolutely objective overview that Naomi Schaefer Riley does in her book, God on the Quad. Riley manages to skate the zig zag line of truth on the thin ice that exists for those trying to explore this topic.

Wilfred McClay, author, The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America :
In the world of American higher education, “diversity” is always embraced in theory, but frequently disdained in practice. There is no better illustration of that fact than the ill-informed and incurious suspicion of the nation’s religious colleges emanating from the ranks of the “educated.” For those in the grip of such entirely preventable ignorance, this splendid book is the perfect antidote. Anyone who still believes that America’s religious colleges are crudely anti-intellectual backwaters will be profitably shocked by the reality described in Naomi Schaefer Riley’s lucid and meticulously researched account, which vividly evokes the rich and varied texture of life in these unique institutions. And anyone who still believes that religious colleges must abandon or dilute their religious mission in order to make a real contribution to American society will discover that something closer to the opposite is true.

Alphonse Vinh, National Public Radio:
Naomi Schaefer Riley’s God the Quad is an important and refreshing new look at the vitality of a younger generation of well-educated religious people who want to make a difference in the deeply divided and conflicted America they are inheriting.

Abigail Thernstrom, member, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, author, America in Black and White and, most recently, No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning:
Naomi Schaefer Riley’s investigation into whether a common faith can bridge the racial gaps on a college campus yields fascinating results. Her account of the missionary generation’s attitudes on race is just one of a number of features that make this balanced, well-researched book a must-read for anyone interested in America’s cultural and political future.

David Gibson, author, The Coming Catholic Church: How the Faithful Are Shaping a New American Catholicism:
Insightful and challenging, Riley’s book shows how religious colleges are transforming America, and vice versa. This work is invaluable for anyone interested in the future of higher education in America-and the future of religion. Riley is a wonderful chronicler of a little-known academic world where faith and reason still intersect, a world that is having a profound impact on our national life. Her tour of 20 religious colleges and universities reveals a Red State educational life that is either unknown to most Americans or simply dismissed as irrelevant. Riley demonstrates that whatever one thinks of religious institutions of higher education, they are hardly irrelevant.

Midge Decter, author, Liberal Parents, Radical Children and, most recently, Rumsfeld: A Personal Portrait:
A fascinating journey through an America that few of us have been paying attention to: the country of the deeply religious, primarily Christian, young in the various colleges devoted to educating them, while keeping them safe from the spiritual corrosions of America’s youth culture. Told gently but searchingly, this story is not only interesting in itself but one that anyone who cares about the future health of this society cannot afford to let slip by.

Harvey Mansfield, professor of Government, Harvard University, author, America’s Constitutional Soul and The Spirit of Liberalism:

A pioneer explorer into the unknown territory of America’s religious colleges, Naomi Schaefer Riley reports her findings from twenty campuses with verve and insight. Her writing is as light as conversation, but her thinking goes as deep as the dispute in American education today between reason and revelation. She reflects on the life apart of religious colleges, but also on how they deal with the secular culture in regard to feminism, race and sex. A wonderful book and a must read for all concerned with the future of American higher education.

David Klinghoffer, author, The Discovery of God: Abraham and the Birth of Monotheism and The Lord Will Gather Me In: My Journey to Jewish Orthodoxy:
Inspiring! A sympathetic, moving, insightful, thoroughly and clearly reported account of a phenomenon that, for all its importance, has until now been hardly noticed. Only a rare and gifted journalist can bring to life such diverse places, with their very different cultures, as Yeshiva University and Brigham Young, Baylor University and Thomas Aquinas College. My own experience with the world of Jewish higher education tells me that Naomi Schaefer Riley gets her subject exactly right. A huge amount of work went into this book, yet she brings it off effortlessly.

David Aikman, author, Great Souls: Six Who Changed a Century and A Man of Faith: The Spiritual Journey of George W. Bush :
Naomi Schaefer Riley has written a thoughtful, well-reported account of the way in which the nation’s private religious schools are coming to terms with issues of the day-and issues of religion. She counters many secular stereotypes that religious schools-Jewish, Mormon, or Evangelical Christian-are populated by intellectual dodos and that they are indifferent to the concerns of modern culture. On the other hand, she shows that very few of the religious schools in the US are likely to inculcate strictly sectarian values, and that, where they try hard to, the results are mixed. This book is a welcome addition to the debate over the contribution of religiously based schools to education in America.

Harvey A. Silverglate, co-founder and director, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and co-author, The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses:
Naomi Schaefer Riley’s remarkably intelligent, fair-minded, incisive, fascinating and penetrating foray into the world of religious institutions of higher learning illuminates as well some of the causes and consequences of the hostility shown toward religious students on our secular campuses. Anyone seeking to understand how the religious and the secular must, and can, co-exist and even nurture each other in a free and tolerant society, must read this book. It casts in an entirely new- and sensible-light the relationship between what have come to be seen as our clashing Red and Blue cultures.

John Schmalzbauer, author, People of Faith: Religious Conviction in American Journalism and Higher Education:

Naomi Schaefer Riley’s God on the Quad is a fascinating exploration of twenty religious colleges. Riley’s fine reporting skills and eye for detail make the case studies come alive. Comparing evangelical, Catholic, Buddhist, and Jewish approaches to religious higher education, she takes the reader inside campus subcultures outside the higher education mainstream. God on the Quad includes treatments of institutions that rarely open their doors to researchers. The chapter on Bob Jones University is itself worth the price of admission. Riley’s blend of critical journalism and humane empathy makes God on the Quad a pleasure to read.

Fr. C.J. McCloskey, research fellow, Faith and Reason Institute in Washington DC and former Catholic Chaplain at Princeton University:
As the cultural conflicts rage in the US, there is no more important battleground than our University campuses. Naomi Schaefer Riley gives a balanced examination of various religious universities that are achieving great success and bright religiously committed graduates who will have a deep impact on America’s future. This book will surprise and perhaps trouble you.

Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, professor of history at Emory University:
The intellectual life and dynamism of religious colleges would surprise many, who tend not to take them seriously. A bad mistake. In God on the Quad, Naomi Schaefer Riley offers a compelling account of their high quality and intense vitality. Far from the bigoted enclaves of the imagination of our intellectuals and media, these colleges are training students in intellectual and personal discipline, dedication to the claims of an ethnically diverse and rapidly changing society, and, above all, how to live your faith in the world. Their goal could not be less narrow or sectarian. To the contrary, they are purposefully training the leaders of the future-people with a commitment to public service and to shaping our world. The graduates of religious colleges are entirely capable and splendidly prepared to meet these goals and more. To underestimate their influence on our future would be a serious error. And those who share their goals and admire their vision will find in God on the Quad a wealth of heartwarming information-and, especially, an exciting vision of possibilities for the future of our society. A joy to read, this book is also an arresting picture of a new generation that is poised to change the face of our culture and public life.

Charlotte Allen, author, The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus:
This is an exciting book, and it appears at an exciting time–as college administrators, policymakers, journalists, and, most important, students themselves are coming to realize that the education offered by America’s 700 religiously affiliated colleges and universities is some of the best in the country. On her travels, Naomi Schaefer Riley interviewed administrators, faculty, and most of all, the students who, contrary our facile assumptions about overprotective parents, in nearly all cases have freely chosen to attend sectarian schools, sometimes turning down offers from Harvard or Princeton. She discovers plenty of tensions, as students struggle with bans on alcohol or premarital sex and the colleges struggle to define their religious identity in a militantly secular culture. What distinguishes these colleges and their students is their seriousness–about faith, intellectual engagement, and their own destinies–and that’s what keeps away the sense of emptiness that pervades college life elsewhere.

Robert C. Andringa, president, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities:
How can one journalist capture so well the essence of various religious worldviews and their complex applications within higher education? My understanding of the history, traditions, current issues and possible futures of each religious tradition’s engagement with learning and culture was gratefully expanded. Everyone interested in protecting the diversity and exploring the common cause of these 700 or more institutions will be enthralled by this book.

Michael Cromartie, editor A Public Faith: Evangelicals and Civic Engagement:
Moving from Mormon, fundamentalist, conservative and liberal Catholic, Jewish, Baptist, and evangelical educational institutions, Naomi Schaefer Riley’s wide ranging book is even handed, perceptive, and often times surprisingly revealing. She examines the roles of women, race relations, student life, and various approaches to integrating faith and intellectual life. She is an astute observer who captures well the complex and multidimensional aspects of each tradition. Everyone working in religiously oriented higher education-and even those outside it-will want to read this volume and come to grips with the challenges-and the opportunities-that Riley highlights in this timely book.

Mark A. Noll, McManis Professor of Christian Thought, Wheaton College, and author, America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln:

This book offers a clear, well-researched, sympathetic, but also searching account of colleges and universities that define themselves as religious. It is, to my knowledge, the best balanced, most analytical, and most thought-provoking book of its kind.