Religion Gaining Interest and Importance at Minnesota Colleges

January 26, 2002

Source: Star Tribune

On January 26, 2002, the Star Tribune reported that "reflecting a national trend, Minnesota's small private college students are increasingly interested in religion as an academic study and in seeking private faith answers. This comes after decades of secularization of the colleges, but also shows the new diversity of faiths on every campus... For several decades many small colleges, facing rising costs and tougher competition for students and an increased diversity in student populations, turned away from their close ties with the Christian denominations that founded them, and secularized their mission statements... But in the 1990s students started showing renewed interest in religion as an academic subject and they told their professors they wanted to spend more time searching out their own values, religious beliefs and ethics in their lives...Macalester College in St. Paul, which has Presbyterian roots but often is described by its own as 'secular,' is experiencing a rising number of religion-studies majors and all kinds of different religious groups activities... Rabbi Bernard Raskas points out that Macalester has a robust religious life _ of every kind from Hindu to Wiccan to Presbyterian. The rabbi laureate of Temple of Aaron in St. Paul also teaches at Macalester. The chapel at the center of Macalester's campus has no visible Christian symbols inside. This is a deliberate symbol of the school's religious inclusiveness, he said."