I ran across a forum post offering suggestions for improvement on a beta college search tool. This particular post got me thinking about how people view liberal vs conservative. There is no doubt that the past four or so presidential elections has contributed to a redefinition of these terms. This post seems to indicate an acceptance of that redefinition.
"Liberal" has, in some circles, has come to be synonymous with "non-religious" while "Conservative" has come to be synonymous with 'religious". Traditionally in the political arena, "Liberal" has meant Democrat and "Conservative" has meant Republican. Put those two definitions together and you arrive at Democrat = non-religious and Republican = religious. This is the transformation of the definition that has occurred over the past several elections.
First of all, religion has no place in politics. Separation of church and state is one of the cornerstones our nation was built upon. I am currently reading a series of books by Eric Flint, beginning with 1632, which offers an alternative history to the Thirty Years war. This war was fought in no small part due to the lack of separation of church and state and resulted in such atrocities as the Spanish Inquisition.
While there are many definitions of "Liberal" and "Conservative", the definitions I believe are most important are:
Liberal = Questioning established traditions and being open to new ideas and change Conservative = Accepting established traditions and being opposed to new ideas and change.
In the context of those definitions, I'm not so certain that a non-liberal higher education has any place in our society. If not in education, then where can we encourage and teach critical thinking?
In the context of the college search tool, does "Liberal-Leaning" mean the school is Liberal Arts oriented? Discussion on the forum suggests that the presidential elections have had an influence on our minds as Liberal vs Conservative is thought to be discerned through Religious Affiliation. I personally find that most disturbing.
Political affiliation is possibly less disturbing. Religious Affiliation, Political Affiliation and Liberal vs Conservative are each separate matching criteria. To associate them in any way in any context is troubling.
I would love to read your thoughts on the issue.