When I went off to college as an 18-year-old, I essentially left faith behind. The church, after all, was full of hypocrites, and in my teen-age arrogance I didn't want to hang out with them.
It took a dozen or so years for me to understand that I was one of those hypocrites and needed help. So I came back to church, which I discovered was full of people who knew they also needed help with lots of aspects of life.
My experience of drifting away from religion after high school was not unique in the 1960s. Nor is it unique today, though now there are many more dynamics at play, including a mini-explosion of inner spiritual paths that have mushroomed into existence in the last 50 or 60 years.
But what do you know about faith on college campuses today?
Probably not enough, but Abilene Christian University’s Online Masters in Higher Education program has created an interesting graphic that outlines the findings of various surveys and studies of college students and their connection to religion.
You can find it here online if you want to pass it on to others, but clearly I've reprinted it for you here.
If you're part of a faith community, I'd encourage you to share it with whoever there leads ministry to youth and young adults.
There are many reasons young people walk away from the faith tradition in which they were reared, and there are many reasons some of them return or find a new religious home.
The kind of information that Abilene Christian has put together can shed at least a little light on how those young people think about all of those reasons when they're on a college campus.
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A DOWNSIDE TO DIVERSITY?
The growing religious diversity in the U.S. might be making the country less religious, this analysis suggests. There's some logic to the findings but I think it's going to take a long time and a lot more study to be able to say for sure whether that conclusion has merit.
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P.S.: My new book is due out Sept. 20. It's The Value of Doubt: Why Unanswered Questions, Not Unquestioned Answers, Build Faith. I'll be introducing it at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at the Plaza branch of the Kansas City Public Library. For more details and to reserve a seat, click here. I hope to see you there.