How Religion Is Making a Comeback on College Campuses
By Douglas and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen
Dec 23, 2012 4:45 AM EST
A dramatic shift in the global landscape has made religion a pressing issue on college campuses again. Douglas and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen, authors of No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education.
One in three Americans under the age of 30 reports being religiously unaffiliated, so it may be a surprise to learn that religion is making a comeback on American campuses. It’s not that campuses have become holy places, and religious zealots are not calling the shots. But religion is no longer marginalized from campus life as it was in the late 20th century. A generation ago, many Americans and most colleges and universities could live with the myth that religion was a purely private matter, but today no one questions that religion can have powerful effects on individuals and societies.
Today’s interest in religion comes from the bottom up—a significant change from the past. From the colonial days through the 19th century, religion was typically imposed on students from the top down. Now, students themselves are driving a re-engagement with religion. Religion, for them, is not necessarily the old-fashioned “organized” religion handed down to them by their elders, but rather a personal exploration of meaning, purpose, values, and global diversity—something that many of them would call “spirituality” rather than “religion.”