Largest Christian University in America Gets Fined $37 Million. Coincidence or Targeted Attack?

Posted on Tuesday, April 23, 2024
by Outside Contributor
Grand Canyon University; christian university

A dust storm of political madness is brewing in Phoenix as Grand Canyon University faces the continued threats of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

Christians have watched as the Biden administration attacks biblical views left and right, with a particularly vehement disregard for the sanctity of life and marriage. As such, it can’t be too surprising that Cardona, a part of this leftist administration, has vowed to shut down America’s largest Christian university.

In late October, Grand Canyon University was hit with “a $37.7 million fine brought by the federal government over allegations that it lied to students about the cost of its programs,” The Associated Press reported—an accusation that GCU President Brian Mueller described as “ridiculous.”

Around the same time, Liberty University, America’s second-largest Christian university, also was fined $37 million “over alleged underreporting of crimes.”

Grand Canyon University appealed its fine in November even though a hearing is not expected until January 2025. But the question Mueller has is one of integrity. Is this genuine consideration for the well-being of students, or is this a targeted attack against religious institutions?

“It’s interesting, isn’t it, that the two largest Christian universities in the country, this one and Liberty University, are both being fined almost the identical amount at almost the identical time?” GCU’s president speculated in a speech. “Now is there a cause and effect there? I don’t know. But it’s a fact.”

The House Appropriations Committee held a hearing early this month about the Biden administration’s decision to “crack down on GCU and other universities like it.”

During the proceedings, Cardona and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., made their disapproval of Grand Canyon University and similar universities obvious. “[W]e are cracking down not only to shut them down, but to send a message to not prey on students,” Cardona said.

Supporters of GCU agree that the fine seems unprecedented and motivated by ideological bias. American Principles Project Policy Director Jon Schweppe said: “The federal government’s education agenda is punishing schools that do not conform to their progressive ideology. It’s time we take a stand against this egregious abuse of power.”

Another conservative think tank, the Goldwater Institute, sued the Education Department for “refusing to turn over” public documents “that explain why” the agency fined GCU. The goal of the lawsuit is to unmask the reason behind the fine.

“With its motto of ‘private, Christian, affordable’ and its track record of graduating students into high-demand and high-paying jobs, GCU is a success story by any metric. And it stands apart from universities across the country that are facing declining enrollment, that are indoctrinating students with radical politics, and that are under attack for failing to defend the First Amendment,” the Goldwater Institute wrote. “So then why are the feds targeting GCU, a popular university that seems to be doing everything right? That’s exactly what we’re going to find out.”

Although immense uncertainty still surrounds this case, Grand Canyon University’s president took the time to share with The Washington Stand how his staff, faculty, and students are faring and how believers everywhere can help.

Mueller emphasized that GCU has faced various issues over the years. But despite the government’s action, he said he wanted people to know that “interestingly enough … it has had zero impact on anything that we’re doing.”

He continued: “The enrollments are just continuing to grow … [and] the morale is very high in terms of our faculty and staff. The campus is extremely vibrant. I mean, the students absolutely love this place. They’re extremely loyal to [the school] and so we just keep marching through it.”

And although the fine that Grand Canyon University was dealt by the Education Department is “a problem,” Mueller said, he is thankful that GCU remains optimistic.

Christian “mission, not politics, is our motivation and it is our hope,” he told The Washington Stand. As a university, Mueller explained, GCU exists to “pour into” the community around it.

“[O]ur reach into the neighborhood and caring for disadvantaged populations has been a way to live out our faith” in a way “that has risen above … political divide,” Mueller said. Ultimately, with support from “both sides of the aisle” in Arizona, he noted, “all the issues we have are with a very small number of people in Washington D.C.”

“We encourage people to be involved politically and vote,” Mueller said, adding: “But our faith will stand above the politics always, and our politics will never become our religion.”

Because, for “many people in our country today, their politics have become their religion, and that’s when things … go really bad in our society,” he said.

Mueller pointed out that Grand Canyon University is “trying to be an example of a Christian community that can rise above those things and focus on helping people” through service, as Scripture calls believers to do.

Mueller concluded with a request for prayer as the university works through these troubling times, and for “the hearts of certain people in Washington, D.C. to be softened.” He added that “it’s hard to make progress and resolve differences when people just … don’t want to talk to each other.”

Published originally by The Washington Stand

Reprinted with permission from The Daily Signal by Sarah Holiday.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of AMAC or AMAC Action.