There are plenty of anecdotal stories about hostile responses to any attempt to talk about Christian faith on today's college campuses. There are also stories about how that sort of conversation is gratefully received by students. Which view, hostile or grateful, is right?
Most people tend to imagine that hostility toward faith and christian belief is the more commonly encountered reception.
But new evidence shows something different:
"The conventional wisdom, as it turns out, is not quite right.
From the pollsters come recent data showing that religion and spirituality are alive and well at colleges and universities. A recent study by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA finds that more than half of college juniors say 'integrating spirituality' into their lives is very important. Today's juniors also tend to pray (67%, according to the UCLA study) and 41% believe it's important, even essential, to 'follow religious teachings' in everyday life.
In these and similar measures, the college population tends to lag behind the population at large, but not by much. Other new research suggests that one's experience in higher education is not the cause of any falling away from faith. Survey results from University of Texas researchers find that students are less likely to be secularized than others ages 18-25. In other words, navigating the working world takes a larger toll on a young person's faith than braving the nation's supposedly godless college campuses.
It's not just trendy Eastern or New Age religions to which students are gravitating. Christianity is holding its own, too, in part because many campus Christians are showing a different side of their religion than the one that has lent irresistible fodder to comedians and given it a bad reputation in some quarters.
Young Christians, college students or otherwise, tend to emphasize different public concerns than the old-guard Christian Right. Like the older Christian generation, they do consider abortion an important issue, according to a survey by Relevant magazine, but the same survey finds that they tend to care less than their elders about asserting Christian prerogatives in the public square and resisting the advance of gay rights."
Read the rest here.