Friday, September 14, 2007

College and faith

As a follow up to my posts two weeks ago about Mark Regnerus's work, here's a newspaper article about his findings regarding college students and faith.

In Mark's words, "Surprisingly enough though, college graduates reported a 59.2-percent decline in religious service attendance compared to a 76.2-percent decline among those who chose not to attend college, according to the report. Regnerus and Uecker explain that the structure of college life reinforces and provides for a more religion-friendly environment. Through student organizations and various network associations, college students live in an atmosphere that allows them to maintain their religious beliefs."

This certainly flies in the face of common wisdom about sending your Christian child to college. I think that in the past, parents, pastors, and others have noticed that lots of college kids drift away from organized religion and concluded that college had that effect. Now it seems that it's a function of their age, not educational setting, and those who don't go to college do even worse.
Thanks to Mat for the link.


Knumb said...

You know Brad, this is another example of there being something to be said for statistics.

Jim said...

I'm not so sure that the problem has ever been college, rather a church that insisted on cloning their youth's thinking to their individual doctrine instead of helping them to establish their own foundations in the reality He provides......

Casey Ross said...

Good post, Brad. I used to be one of those people who blamed college. Then I started blaming the churches who graduated their youth group kids into a world they were taught to fear. I think their stats are right. It does have a lot to do with age. Maybe why we still blame colleges is b/c we (the church) pays more attention to the kids who go to college and less to those who go work or do whatever else they do.

Amishlaw said...

There was a similar study of Mennonites with similar results 20 years ago. My parents, who blamed college for their children's liberality, weren't impressed. Then I tried anecdotal evidence. Of the kids in my sunday school class, look at the ones who went to college and the ones who didn't and compare how many are active in a church of some kind. They still didn't believe the evidence. I will admit, it is counter-intuitive.

Brad Wright said...

John, you're right about stats clearing some things, including this.

Jim, interesting about cloning vs. individual foundation. There is certainly a tension there.

Casey, I agree re: teaching kids to fear. Preparing hs kids for college seems to be something a lot of churches don't do well. I also agree that we spend more attention on those who go to college... sucess stories.

Amishlaw, you sound like a sociologist, using whatever social evidence you can find. Nice.