01: The new book Religion On Campus (University of North Carolina Press, $24.95) provides a comprehensive examination of religion on college campuses — from academic study of religion to extracurricular activities.
The book, by Conrad Cherry, Betty A. DeBerg, and Amanda Porterfield, features four in-depth case studies of campuses, including Catholic and Lutheran-affiliated colleges and state and private universities. The authors hypothesize in the introduction that viewing universities and campuses as secularized and irreligious in character is wrong. They demonstrate through their case studies that religion thrives on campuses, even if faith and practice are far more pluralistic than in the past and lacks a unifying effect among students and faculty.
In fact, the pluralism of modern campuses, with religious activity more voluntary even at religiously affiliated schools, did not appear to hurt religion and may have stimulated interest in faith. Although spiritual seeking is widespread on campuses, Cherry, DeBerg and Porterfield find that students frequently make the connection between spirituality and voluntary social service.
Another noteworthy finding is that students often invest their religious interest and even devotion in taking academic courses on religion.