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CULTURE DIGEST: Interest in religion increases on college campuses

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–At college campuses across the nation, including Harvard and Berkeley, chaplains and professors say students are more interested in religion and spirituality than at any time they can remember, according to a report by The New York Times.

“My theory is that the baby boomers decided they weren’t going to impose their religious life on their children the way their parents imposed it on them. The idea was to let them come to it themselves,” Lloyd Steffen, a chaplain at Lehigh University, told The Times May 2.

“And then they get to campus and things happen; someone dies, a suicide occurs. Real issues arise for them, and they sometimes feel that they don’t have resources to deal with them,” Steffen said. “And sometimes they turn to religion and courses in religion.”

At the University of California, Berkeley, a campus once known for its defiance of religious tradition, there now are 50 to 60 Christian organizations, and Randy Bare, a Presbyterian campus pastor at Berkeley, said student attendance at Catholic and Presbyterian churches near the campus has increased significantly, The Times reported.

Bare also noted that a large number of students at Berkeley are Asian-American, and many come from observant Christian homes. “That’s new, and it’s a remarkable shift,” he said.

More students across the country are enrolling in religion classes and even majoring in religion, observers say, and more intellectual discussion groups are focusing on spiritual questions.

“University officials explained the surge of interest in religion as partly a result of the rise of the religious right in politics, which they said has made questions of faith more talked about generally,” The Times said. “In addition, they said, the attacks of Sept. 11 underscored for many the influence of religion on world affairs.”

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said if former Yale President Timothy Dwight were alive, “he would rejoice in the signs of a Great Awakening akin to what he sparked across campus in the early 1800s.”

“The grandson of the great Jonathan Edwards, Dwight noticed that the students and faculty had drifted far from the Christian faith on which the university was founded,” Perkins wrote in his Washington Update May 2. “To reverse the growing skepticism, Dwight fired the professors who embraced the new wave of secularism.

“As a result, nearly a third of the student body was converted to Christianity,” Perkins said. “At a time when hope is in rare supply, let’s continue to pray that God seizes the hearts of these students for His purpose and raises them up to defend the values we hold dear.”

MUSLIM LEADS DAY OF PRAYER BREAKFAST — Among the observances May 3 for the National Day of Prayer was an interfaith breakfast in Dallas featuring a Muslim woman as the keynote speaker.

Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, spoke at the event held at a United Methodist church, according to The Dallas Morning News. Khan is considered by some a Muslim feminist, the newspaper said, though she describes herself as seeking social justice for women and others.

“We thought, ‘A Muslim and a woman — that’s what we need to hear from,'” Tatiana Androsov, president and director of Thanks-Giving Square, the group that organized the breakfast, told The Dallas Morning News.

THE NEXT HOMOSEXUAL EPISCOPAL PRIEST? — James McGreevey, the former governor of New Jersey who resigned in 2004 after admitting he had a homosexual relationship with an aide, now has joined the Episcopal Church and wants to become a priest.

McGreevey, 49, was raised Roman Catholic but joined St. Bartholomew’s Church in Manhattan April 30, the Associated Press reported. A spokesman for the General Theological Seminary in Manhattan, an institution of the Episcopal Church, told AP that McGreevey has been admitted to the master of divinity program and will start classes in the fall. The vicar at St. Bartholomew’s, meanwhile, said McGreevey is still discerning whether he is called to the priesthood.

Controversy erupted in the Episcopal Church and the broader Anglican Communion in 2003 when V. Gene Robinson was ordained as the first openly homosexual Episcopal priest. In February, Anglican leaders asked the Episcopal Church to stop ordaining homosexual priests or face discipline, but so far Episcopal leaders have not signaled an intent to comply.

“Issues regarding homosexuality are only symptoms of much deeper issues in the Episcopal Church, because the issues in general involve a move away from Scripture on a whole host of matters,” Ralph Webb, director of Anglican Action at the Washington-based Institute on Religion and Democracy, said, adding that the Episcopal Church is distancing itself from orthodox belief and practice.

CCM MAGAZINE CHANGES FOCUS — CCM Magazine, popular for decades among fans of Christian music, is changing its definition of that genre to include independent and general market artists with a faith element in their music.

“This month marks a historic step for our magazine, and, as a result, the fans and the industry we serve,” Jay Swartzendruber, editor of CCM, said in a news release May 1. “We’re going to start mixing indie and general market Christians such as The Fray, Mary J. Blige and Sufjan Stevens in with artists with traditional Christian label affiliation.

“Rather than define ‘Christian music’ just by its label or distribution, we’re now defining it as Christian worldview music. CCM Magazine has always taken its role as a leader seriously, and we believe this is the way of the future,” he added.

Swartzendruber explained that many artists of faith have been reluctant to have their music defined by the Christian market and have chosen to bypass it because Christian music is considered an actual genre. In fact, the music includes rock, pop, hip-hop, punk, hardcore metal and other styles of music, the news release noted.

Also, the CCM acronym, which since its inception 29 years ago stood for contemporary Christian music, is being changed to Christ Community Music, starting with the May issue. The magazine will feature more reader-generated content, including album reviews by readers, firsthand accounts, questions for favorite artists and highlights from CCM’s online community.

MOMS SHOULD EARN $138,000, STUDY SAYS — If stay-at-home mothers really were compensated for the work they do each year, their salary would be about $138,000, according to a survey of 40,000 mothers by Salary.com that examined 10 typical job functions of fulltime moms.

“Mom works multiple jobs and rarely gets a break from the action, working an average of 52 hours of overtime,” said Bill Coleman, senior vice president and chief compensation officer at Salary.com.

The study concluded that stay-at-home mothers work a 92-hour workweek with more than half the time spent in overtime, and mothers who work outside the home averaged a 49-hour workweek beyond their full-time paying jobs.

Job titles moms often carry include housekeeper, day care center teacher, cook, computer operator, laundry machine operator, janitor, facilities manager, van driver, CEO and psychologist, Salary.com said. Using the salaries of people who actually get paid for each of those jobs, the website determined the would-be salary of a stay-at-home mom.

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  • Erin Roach