A large percentage of America’s private colleges and universities were founded on a religious basis and public colleges were at least tolerant of religion. Today, however, religion has been banished from the campus to a great extent. While leaders talk about their commitment to “inclusion,” religious students are ignored or even excluded.
In today’s Martin Center article, Professor Josh Bowman looks at this trend against religion and the modest counter-movement it has produced.
Bowman explains, “Religious perspectives, and especially the theologically orthodox, are not just marginalized through neglect, but berated as hateful micro-aggressions whose relegation to the “dustbin of history” is long overdue. As a result, the soul of secular higher education in the Western world is largely a void, manifested in the nihilism of many students and their painful struggles with addiction, depression, anxiety, and confusion.”
Entering that void are a number of independent Christian study centers. As Bowman writes, “Christian study centers, in most contemporary iterations, are independent non-profit organizations established near major secular universities in order to minister to the intellectual and spiritual needs of Christians and those on campus interested in exploring the faith. Their focus tends to be one of discipleship and lay education, with an emphasis on the Christian intellectual tradition that distinguishes them from more well-known campus ministries. Ideally, they own a space (such as a house or larger office space) where Christians can gather for intellectual conversations, lectures, and study.”
Wisely, these centers have remained completely independent of the colleges they serve. Any connection whatever would no doubt give the anti-religious crowd an opening to attack.
Bowman recognizes that independent Christian study centers aren’t a complete solution to the problem. “But this is no time for despair or retreat,” he writes. “Any faculty member who has taken the time to get to know their students has seen the deep spiritual and moral struggle they go through on a daily basis. They are desperate for hope, for meaning, truth, and the Gospel. Christian study centers are uniquely called and equipped to meet this pressing need.”