Author, apologist and former White House policy analyst Dinesh D'Souza has high hopes for The King's College in New York City.
The Catholic-raised evangelical, who was appointed Monday to serve as the school's president, wants to raise a generation of Christians who can defend their faith while simultaneously being embedded in the mainstream world.
Christian colleges today, he says, tend to "shelter students" from society's "toxic influence."
But as the president of The King's College, D'Souza wants to reverse that trend and "equip students" with "good reasons" for their faith, even while in "the middle of secular culture."
"I think I've shown an ability to navigate both worlds – the Christian world and the secular world," says D'Souza, a former policy analyst in the Reagan White House who has written best-selling novels, delivered addresses from prominent pulpits and lecture halls, and appeared in the media on numerous occasions.
"There are a number of Christian apologists, but some of them merely inhabit the Christian subculture," the India-born evangelical adds. "[They] don't have any mainstream exposure at all. You'll never see them on CNN, you'll never read an article by them in USA Today, and I think the idea of The King's College is to do that – to prepare young Christians to be successful in the mainstream."
For years now, D'Souza has spoken out on a slew of topics including human nature, social policy and affirmative action, multiculturalism and the greatness of America, feminism, atheism, Islam, church-state separation, and same-sex marriage.
Author bestsellers such as Illiberal Education and What's So Great About America, D'Souza has been called one of the "top young public-policy makers in the country" by Investor's Business Daily, one of America's most influential conservative thinkers by the New York Times Magazine, and one of the country's most prominent Asian Americans by Newsweek.
On Monday, D'Souza was tapped as the fifth president of The King's College, which seeks to educate students to bring competitive Christian ideas to positions of leadership in the institutions of government, civil society, media, law, education, business, the arts, and the church.
The Campus Crusade for Christ-supported school is currently listed by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute as one of the top 50 colleges for conservatives. Last year, the school was included in the list of top conservative colleges by the Young America's Foundation.
"Our goal at The King's College is to prepare intellectually-gifted students to transform society by preparing them for careers in which they help to shape and eventually to lead strategic public and private institutions," remarked D'Souza after his appointment as president. "We love it when our graduates bring transformation to the key institutions of society-business, law, politics, academia and media."
As a model for the type of institution D'Souza envisions for The King's College, the apologist looks to Ivy League schools, most of which started as effective, influential, Christian schools but "sadly" lost their Christian traditions.
"Where Dartmouth left off, that supplies my model for King's," says D'Souza, using his alma mater as an example. "I don't see why we can't have a first rank academic institution in the middle of the secular city."
And it is D'Souza's hope that from The King's College will come men and women who will be the "salt and light" of today's culture and who do more to defend their faith than just "scoring points."
"I've seen Christians debating Christopher Hitchens bring 40 books and make the ontological argument, make the cosmological argument, but Hitchens just laughs it off, makes good jokes, and at the end of the evening, Christians think Hitchens is super cool and the Christian comes off as fuddy duddy," recalls D'Souza, referring to the popular atheist author whom he, himself, has debated ten times.
"It's like winning the battle but losing the war," the apologist says.
"If I am trying to convince my wife something, I'm not going to try to beat her out on points," D'Souza explains. "Persuasion is different than point scoring. So this is all really I think part of a good education, to put knowledge in perspective. So for us it's not knowledge for its own sake, it is knowledge mobilized to have an impact on society."
Born in India, but a U.S. citizen since 1990, D'Souza describes himself half-jokingly as a third-world Christian bringing the faith back to New York City. He describes "the West" as a "new" mission field "more important, in a way" than Africa and India.
As an author, D'Souza has written eight books geared towards the secular audience ranging from topics including education, politics, and culture, and will release a new title, The Roots of Obama's Rage, this fall.
As a Christian apologist since 2007, he has written two books – What's So Great About Christianity and Life After Death: The Evidence.
Though some labeled him a Catholic, D'Souza has made it clear that Catholicism is part of his background as is his Indian heritage.
Today, he is very active in a Calvary Chapel church in San Diego and has been a member of the evangelical church since 2002.
"It's a non-issue," he says in response to recent reports on his Catholic label.
"[N]umerous leading pastors around the country know that and have trusted me to speak in their pulpits," he adds.
"Rick Warren won't give you his pulpit if you are theologically suspect."
That aside, the respected conservative thinker admits that New York can have a secular, left-wing atmosphere. But Christians should "be a part of the mix" and articulate the Christian angle or else it might get lost, he adds.
From the city, D'Souza hopes to land King's graduates jobs in important business, media, legal, and political institutions on the East Coast, positions from which they can have a measurable, positive impact on the world.
But the apologist made clear that it's not that King's has an agenda they are promoting.
What they want is for Christians to make a difference.
Christians, D'Souza concludes, need to tackle secular culture from within "the belly of the beast."
D'Souza's new position at The King's College was made effective immediately upon last Monday's announcement.
Christian Post Reporter Eric Young in San Francisco contributed to this article.