The Battle for Hearts and Minds on Campus
by Sheryl Young
“You will not mention God at any time during this semester or select a biblical viewpoint as the topic of any paper. If you do so, you will receive a failing grade.”
No, this is not one of the atheist professor’s lines from the movie God’s Not Dead. It is being said by real-life professors in countless real-life classrooms across America today.
Statistics in various studies show that 50 to 70 percent of American youth drop out of church and leave their Christian beliefs between the ages of 18 and 22. Some lose interest during high school but keep putting on a good front for parents and their church.
One could speculate that there may be a direct correlation between this percentage of students and the number of secular professors at the college level. According to Patheos.com, of 1500 full-time professors surveyed, 50 percent had no religion. Another 11 percent were agnostic. Also, professors in research fields like physical sciences and psychology are less likely to believe in God or have a traditional view of the Bible.
A study done at George Mason University revealed that the percentage of professing atheists and agnostics among the ranks of college professors is 26 percent higher than the general U.S. population. In addition, 51 percent of professors described the Bible as “an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts,” while only 6 percent said the Bible is “the actual word of God.”*
How did we get here?
The atheist movement in America has become increasingly evangelistic, reaching out to young people with the theory that “there is no absolute truth” and “Christianity has no logic, reason, or evidence.”
That’s not all.
There’s a problematic notion within academic settings that students – especially Christian students – do not have religious rights once they set foot on secular school grounds. We’ve all heard the stories of Christmas song censorship, valedictorians being forbidden to mention God in their speeches, and football teams not being allowed to have student-led prayer.
These problems combined have led to Christian students experiencing massive pressure to deny Christ and biblical truth in favor of secularism and atheism. This may not be “persecution” as we know it in other countries, but they are being verbally silenced, having their written viewpoints suppressed, their rights violated, and their beliefs trampled.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Our students are our future. High schools and universities have them for many hours per day. Christian students must have their own solid beliefs in Christ. In today’s culture, it’s not good enough to say “because the Bible says so,” “because the pastor says so,” or “because mom and dad say so.”
There are organizations and ministries working hard to stem the tide of “youth flight” from church and to re-establish a Christian voice on campus. One such ministry is Ratio Christi. Ratio Christi means “Reason of Christ” in Latin. 1 Peter 3:15-16 instructs believers: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (NIV).
Ratio Christi (RC) has approximately 150 chapters on college campus across the United States. The goal is to expand to all universities. The students in RC chapters gather specifically to study Christian “apologetics” — the historical, philosophical, and scientific reasons for following Jesus Christ. This supplies them with logic and evidence for the authenticity of what they believe, thereby strengthening their own faith and improving their witness to those around them. These chapters meet regularly like other campus clubs.
In fact, RC students learn to do what the Christian character “Josh” did in God’s Not Dead – give well-founded evidence for God to atheist professors or to peers who are nonbelievers. The students and leaders of RC invite atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and those of other religions to attend the sessions and investigate the claims of Christianity in friendly discussions and sometimes formal debates.
The nonprofit ministry’s president, Corey Miller says, “We must not only defend our faith on campus, but we must defend our right to defend our faith. Students who identify themselves as Christians at the beginning of college, with the rest of their lives and careers ahead of them, are under fierce attack and are leaving the Christian faith in alarming numbers.”
RC seeks to “re-establish a strong and reasoned presence of Christian thinking in academia,” as stated on the website.
To this end, their outreach now goes beyond university students to include having an influence on professors and future professors with a new movement called “RC Prof.” Miller, an adjunct professor who himself experienced discrimination at a university for his biblical worldview, is gathering Christian professors to…
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