A study that indicates increased interest in religion on college campuses rings true for Lutherans too, say ELCA college experts.
"It's a changing landscape," says Patricia Lull, ELCA director for campus ministry. "Among many students there's a huge hunger for things spiritual, but not always in a traditional form. It's different than a decade ago."
Funded by a Lilly Endowment grant, the 10-year study by Boston College surveyed representatives of institutions, most of them church-affiliated.
Lull says the increased openness to religion benefits students and campus pastors, who have in some places gained broader recognition as staff.
This awareness also benefits and challenges church-related schools, which try to honor their religious heritage as their campuses grow religiously pluralistic. That pluralism includes a conservative movement that creates its own tensions at Lutheran schools, says Arne Selbyg, ELCA director for colleges and universities.
"Certainly at some colleges this openness isn't happening," Selbyg says. "[But] faculty are getting better at helping students integrate ethics and faith into their classes whether they teach English or biochemistry or accounting."
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