Religion on Campus

Cherry, Conrad, Betty A. DeBerg, Amanda Porterfield. Religion on Campus. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.

Cherry et al tested the theory that higher education has been increasingly secularized. They investigated four schools from different parts of the United States. One of the schools had Lutheran ties. Another was Catholic. A third was predominantly African American, and the fourth was a state school. Contrary to current secularization theories, these researchers found opportunities for religious practice more ample than the demand. Undergraduates tended to be spiritual seekers who honor religious diversity and construct their spirituality without attending closely to the formal boundaries of religious organizations. Among faculty, the researchers found a spectrum of teaching approaches from advocacy to the dispassionate. But the majority assumed a stance described as “empathetic/analytical” that respected different religious traditions while teaching different methods and perspectives for understanding those traditions. Religion on these campuses were clearly more optional than in the past. But there were not signs that this freedom of choice has diminished religious vitality.