Phi Beta Cons

Re: College Religiosity

Matthew, I can’t say that I’m all that surprised by the finding you highlight below. While university apologists for the secularization of their students would likely argue that declining religiosity is a reflection of increased critical thinking and knowledge levels, the data continue to show us that college students (1) aren’t studying much; (2) aren’t learning much; and (3) have more leisure time than class and study combined.  This of course makes sense if one views college as the place to get their mandatory credentials and have a great time doing it.

With leisure time the dominant facet of university life, the “social milieu” assumes paramount importance, and there’s little doubt that social milieu — from the prevalence of the alcohol-fueled party circuit to the confessed hostility to religion of many professors — is inhospitable to orthodox Christian faith and practice.

For years, Christian churches and parents have tried to prepare students for college by teaching them to withstand intellectual arguments — imagining college as the “life of the mind” rather than a five-year party. While there is still an intellectual side to college life (I don’t want to overstate its ease), I think it’s safe to say that at the overwhelming majority of schools, it is not dominant. Churches and parents need to prepare students for college as it is, not as they imagine it to be.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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