Religion in the University

Regular readers of and may have noticed that Washington University in St. Louis contributes more than it’s fair share of paleo types, (myself, Dan McCarthy, Emily Katz, Art Carden and others you should be hearing from soon). Though it may be an exaggeration to say, as was recently said, that “Wash U has more libertarian students than at any other school”, it is true that the conservatives and libertarians at Wash. U. are well organized with two vibrant student organizations, the Conservative Leadership Association and the College Libertarians, and a great student publication, The Washington Witness. I described some of this activism in LRC and One Campus. Also, St. Louis has long been blessed to have The Discussion Club, one of the oldest conservative/libertarian forums (Mises and Hayek both spoke for them). We now also have the Austrian economist Larry White in the F. A. Hayek chair at the University of Missouri St. Louis.

There is another campus scene in St. Louis that we are forming more connections with and that should be of interest to LRC readers. That is the scene at Saint Louis University, a private Jesuit university about 3 miles from Wash. U. My sister, Rachel Douchant, (a summer fellow at the Mises Institute a few years ago), is a graduate student in Philosophy there. In my recent article, I quoted Paul Johnson, “The outstanding event of modern times was the failure of religious belief to disappear.” When one considers what bastions of anti-religion universities have been (and still often are) Saint Louis University is evidence of a remarkable counter-trend. The graduate students in the philosophy department of SLU are ALMOST ALL conservative Christians (both Catholics and Protestants) and even meet together in an explicitly Christian gathering with some of the faculty! Aquinas, natural law and even study of the thought of Pope John Paul II are all alive and well at SLU. Though I know most about the Philosophy grad students, there is a remarkable amount of piety in the larger grad and undergrad population. The Sunday 10 p.m. mass at the campus cathedral is packed with students. I personally know 3 students entering religious orders, (all of whom promise to make serious intellectual contributions). I don’t know how unusual SLU is. I’ve heard word that Notre Dame and some other campuses also have a lot of conservative religious activity, (please e-mail me with info on other campuses). Whatever the case, SLU is an exciting indication that the generation coming up has some significant elements of orthodoxy that I see as a hopeful sign for our nation in decades to come.

If you are in St. Louis don’t miss another great CLA event… Richard Swinburne, the renowned Oxford philosopher of religion, will be speaking on “Why God Exists” at Graham Chapel at Wash. U. at 4:30pm this Thursday, November 13th.


11:22 pm on November 9, 2003