“The purpose of Concordia College is to influence the affairs of the world by sending into society thoughtful and informed men and women dedicated to the Christian life.” The Concordia mission statement is the very threshold on which the college operates, and gives an understanding at the ultimate goal of Concordia. However, in recent years, there has been much strife surrounding the statement “dedicated to the Christian life.” With secular thought permeating society, it is not a surprise that this issue has arisen. The issue stems from the college struggling to find it’s identity in a sea of rising secularism in students. This is an ongoing concern at many different private liberal arts schools across the United States. Many schools are becoming more secular and less based in the original mission of the school. Concordia has begun to fall into this pit, much to my dismay. It is important that Concordia reconsiders what it means to be a Lutheran school in the twenty-first century, and work towards continuing to be more centered around the faith while still keeping a balance of secular thought.
While Concordia is a Lutheran school, I am not advocating for all students needing to be Lutheran or even Christian to attend the school. First, that would violate the First Amendment, and second, it contradicts the very teachings that Christ gives to us. Rather, it is more about understanding the baseline teachings and ideals that Christianity offers. Many of these ideals have similar notions in all faith practices. Principles like murder, stealing and lying are bad, and loving each other is what truly matters exists in the realms of various religions. What becomes more important are the smaller teachings and beliefs held by the Lutheran church. Volunteer work has long been a pinnacle of Christianity, and is something that Concordia works hard to keep at its core. At the beginning of each student’s tenure at Concordia, part of orientation is going out into the community who are in need of help. Residence life, for all the criticism I have given it, works hard in holding true to this value of assisting those in need. While volunteering is not something that is exclusive to Christian schools, it is a more prominent thought for that very reason.
Concordia should not move to the very opposite end of the spectrum and become too religious. The LGBTQ+ community at Concordia has long battled for equality at the school. This equality is a victory at the school, but would be shattered if the school became too religious. Unfortunately, there are still many Christians that condemn and judge members of society for who they are and who they love. This is not only a perversion of the teachings of Christ, but an affront to human dignity. Nevertheless, many Christians still do so, and religion is often shaped by people and not just the Divine alone. There must still be secularism at Concordia, as secularism often is based in logic and reality, rather than faith and belief. Both are necessary and I do believe the school has done quite well to be welcoming. I know I cannot speak for every student at this school, but I have observed great acceptance and tolerance for one another. That is the balance that must be struck.
Concordia is in a difficult position. On one side, you have alumni claiming the school is too secular, the other claiming the school is too religious. While I tend to err on the former, that does not mean Concordia should be a completely religious school. We must go back to what it means to be a school based in Christian values. It is imperative that we look at the teachings of Christ about grace and tolerance and use that as our guide to making this school more accepting. And on the other side of the scale, the school must continue with good secular thought, challenging harmful religious notions that damage the school and the students who go here.