It’s well known that among most University students, there exists a certain political apathy. Many would also consider there to be a religious apathy as well, but I’m not so sure about this.
First off, look at the number of religious groups on campus. There are organizations like the Catholic Campus Ministry and the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship organization, not to mention Hillel, the Muslim Student Association and countless other groups predicated on religion. If students were really so religiously apathetic, there wouldn’t be nearly this many religious organizations on campus.
Sure, there’s a fair number of people who consider themselves atheists, agnostics or nonreligious in various ways. Yes, I do have friends in the Bucknell Atheists and Agnostics Association, but I have friends who consider their religion to be a key part of their identity, and I’m friends with at least one individual with such a strict religious upbringing that he was once quoted as saying, “Blow jobs are the Devil’s work.”
It’s easy enough to say that University students in general are especially nonreligious, but it seems more likely that we’re just as religious as young people in general, a demographic that tends to be less religious than older ones. If you compare us with our peers, it seems we’re pretty much in the middle of the pack.
I know people my age who are incredibly zealous when it comes to religion. I have a cousin who is majoring in church music at a university that forbids kissing and teaches that evolution is a sham. If anyone had a right to bemoan a lack of religion on this campus, it would be me.
The fact of the matter is, it’s not the amount of religion on campus that’s lacking, but the variety. We’ve got the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), and that’s essentially it. I can count on one hand the people I know on campus with a religion that’s not one of those three.
Now, part of this is just societal context. We just happen to live in a country in which the most common religion is Christianity. However, the U.S. has almost always had a broad diversity of religious ideas. This isn’t a sufficient explanation.
In a way, this religious homogeneity is really just a symptom of the fact that the University just isn’t a very diverse place. If we want to make this an even more interesting place, it will require increasing diversity on campus overall, not just in regard to religion.