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Declining number of religiously-affiliated student spurs outreach programs aimed at supporting a Christian lifestyle


By Connor Van Scyoc and Catherine Sheffo

A growing number of college-aged young adults are identifying as religiously unaffiliated - a change that may be making college campuses less hospitable for students who consider their faith to be a major part of their lives.

The University of Maryland turns to student outreach groups to support the faithful on campus

The University of Maryland's Christian Outreach chapter held a serious of discussions about the methods by which a college students can live out a Christian faith while dealing with the stresses and complications of a college campus over the past several weeks.  The three talks, lead by important student members of the outreach group, focused on  aspects of college life relating to faith, such as time management, academic success, living arrangements and personal relationships.

Aspects of college that challenge all students, such as earning good grades, take on a special significance for the faithful, as academic success can be seen as a way to honor God. "To exist well as college students, in order to serve him well to our studies, we need to order our lives in a way that reflects that," said Jerel Merrill, a mission leader at one of the university's religiously affiliated student associations.

The University of Maryland, however, is not the only campus that exhibits a population of students struggling to find and maintain their faith despite stressful college lifestyles.  Universities around the country have considered making more drastic changes to affiliate religion back into their school; Harvard recently considered adding a "faith and reason" course toothier graduation requirements.  "Elite" institutions like Harvard, however, saw too much resistance to these types of changes.

 High Point University in North Carolina has observed and surveyed their students in order to cater to their religious needs.  Things like clubs and bible study groups are among the organizations they have incorporated into the lives of their students.

Study shows percentage of faithful adults young adults declining across the country

A recent study found that religious affiliation, specifically with young adults from ages 18-33, has began to decline.  The data, featured in the graphs on the right, suggests that it may be harder to remain religious throughout college, as the percentage of 18-24 year-olds unaffiliated with religion is greater than that of 25-33 year-olds. While the data do not differ significantly from older to younger millennial during this survey, previous surveys from past years show that the overall percentage of U.S. adults who identify as religious is on the decline.

The shrinking number of link minded individuals on college campuses may make it harder to maintain religious values in an environment that caters to the excesses of life, from underage drinking to casual personal relationships.

As the demographics of campuses across the country continue to shift, students will continue to seek out others of their faith to help maintain their beliefs in an ever-challenging world.


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