Revival of Religion Majors

Religion majors seem to be increasing at many of the liberal arts colleges in America. The revival of a major that was atrophying only a decade ago has many academics rejoicing. Even though no one could offer broad data on the trend, many academicians all said they had noted a marked upsurge.

"Spiritual seeking has suddenly become valued after an era of disenchantment and cynicism," said Donald Braxton, associate professor of religion at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa.

Mark Wallace, associate professor of religion at Swarthmore College, said he has watched the change over the last eight years. The current students, he said, "are here to discover themselves and to find a coherent worldview that they can live by."

"They are interested in an education that introduces them to world cultures. A great way to do that is by studying religion."

"A huge number of students take religion because they find a safe space to be themselves," Braxton said. "They are looking for a genuineness and authenticity that brings all parts of their personality online and more fulfilled as a person. It's not a groundswell of spiritual seeking like the Sixties, but a second religious impulse after a period of cultural desperation."

Braxton continued in saying, "They don't want sloppy liberalism that just says all religions are different and equal."

Part of the past lull, some say, was that religion appeared a dry subject. But as wider culture has become more corporate, said Wallace, some young people are seeking a refuge from market values.

"When life consists of how to manage a stock portfolio, that life gets really boring," he said. "When that becomes the supreme value in the culture, young people recognize that something is missing."

Philadelphia Inquirer, Sept. 22, 2002



Proposed Marriage Amendment

There is a grassroots movement in the United States to propose a marriage amendment to the Constitution, making it a violation for homosexual relationships to be deemed as marriage. This is on the heels of many homosexual advocate groups challenging courts to honor homosexual unions as marriages.

"The message to the courts is that this is a civil right like those given to blacks in the South, and that message is being mirrored in some of the mainline denominations," said Matt Daniels, executive director of the Alliance for Marriage.

"They will win in the courts and have support from the elite in some churches," he said. "But when you take it to the public, even in the liberal churches, the vast majority reject the idea of 'homosexual marriage,'" he said.

To neutralize state court rulings, such as those in Vermont and California, Daniels and other family-values groups are backing the Federal Marriage Amendment.

It would amend the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as between a man and woman and allow state legislatures to decide on marriage benefits. The amendment would limit rights on benefits and would send a cultural signal, but not necessarily deny protection.

Two of the U.S.'s black denominations, the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Church of God in Christ, have endorsed the amendment.

"They reject the analogy that the homosexual marriage movement is like the civil rights movement," Daniels said. "Calling it a civil right is a relentless effort to overcome public opinion."

Washington Times, July 22-28, 2002

    About the Author

  • SBC Staff