EDUCATION & Does education ‘cure’ people of faith? The data says no.

by Ryan Burge, Religion News Service, 11/10/22.

 It’s been 30 years since The Washington Post published an article on Christian televangelists, describing their followers as “largely poor, uneducated and easy to command.” The pushback was immediate and overwhelming, as thousands flooded the Post’s telephone switchboard and letters poured in to its editors after Pat Robertson — a Yale Law School alum himself — read the offending passage on his television show, “The 700 Club.”

It was a watershed in journalism that woke many mainstream outlets to the reality of evangelicals’ demographics and power.

Yet the bias that says that churches, mosques and synagogues are filled with people who have a low level of education persists. The common assumption is that a formal education, particularly a college degree, is antithetical to religious belonging.

Even a cursory look at recent data reveals that just the opposite is true: Those who are the most likely to be religiously unaffiliated are those with the lowest levels of formal education. The group that is the most likely to align with a faith tradition? Those who have earned a college degree or more.

Chart by Ryan Burge

The Cooperative Election Study, one of the largest publicly available surveys in the United States, began in 2008. In all 14 years since, those Americans who attained no more than a high school diploma have been more likely to report no religious affiliation than college graduates. In 2020, 38% of those who did not finish high school described their religion as atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular. For those who had completed some graduate school, just 32% said that they were among those unaffiliated with any religious community, a group known as the nones.

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EDUCATION & Are today’s seminarians tomorrow’s corporate leaders?

by Kathryn Post, Religion News Service, 2/14/21.

… Executives are looking for help in deciding what matters, to their companies, to their staffers and to them.

Several American seminaries, long training grounds for aspiring pastors and rabbis, have begun to answer the need.

… As much as seminaries are responding to a need in corporate America, they are also adapting to what the decline in institutional religion has visited on them. In today’s more spiritually diverse religious landscape, there is less interest in traditional church ministry.

Over the last six years, 43%-45% of Yale Divinity School’s student body has been enrolled in that school’s two-year Master of Arts in Religion program, a customizable degree for students pursuing academia or a role that doesn’t require ordination. More than half (56%) of this year’s incoming class is in an MAR program.

At Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, “roughly half of Fuller graduates are utilizing their Fuller education in contexts that extend beyond classic church and congregational settings,” Marcus Sun, Fuller’s vice president of global recruitment, admissions, marketing and retention, told Religion News Service in an email.

… “The skills that ministers bring to their work are the skills that business schools desire to give to their students, and that CEOs want. They want empathy, connectivity with others, active listening,” said Karim Hutson, who founded a real estate development company called Genesis after graduating from Harvard Business School in 2003 and from Harvard Divinity School five years later.

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EDUCATION & Least educated are most likely to identify as religiously unaffiliated … those with a graduate level education are almost always the group that is the most likely to be religiously affiliated.

by Ryan Burge, Christianity Today, 4/19/19.

…the bar graph below displays the percentage of each educational group that identifies as a religious “none” (atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular).

Educational attainment serves as a very good proxy for economic prosperity and provides a solid test of secularization theory. Note that each of the six waves of the Cooperative Congressional Election Study contain between 30,000 and 65,000 respondents.

The results are unambiguous: those with the least amount of education are consistently the most likely to identify as religiously unaffiliated. The far right bar in the graph, indicating those with a graduate level education are almost always the group that is the most likely to be religiously affiliated.

If one would like to argue that education is related to secularization, there is no evidence to support that conclusion to be found here.

However, there is a more specific way to approach this problem. The above graph lumps the entire sample into six education categories with little regard for whether they obtained their high school diploma in 1968 to 2008.

If secularization was a constantly accelerating process, we would expect to see younger people with graduate degrees unaffiliate at higher rates than their older counterparts with high levels of education. In order to test this, I broke the CCES 2018 sample into birth cohorts, which are created based on five year intervals.

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EDUCATION & The Resilience of Religion in American Higher Education

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I would encourage my academic colleagues and administrators to read carefully this book. It offers strategic insights, as well as some cautions on the way forward.

“The Resilience of Religion in American Higher Education” by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Education, January 11, 2019.

William F. Buckley Jr.’s 1951 book God and Man at Yale popularized a view of higher education as hostile to faith. A new book, however, The Resilience of Religion in American Higher Education (Baylor University Press), finds faith alive and well in American higher education. The authors find that resilience evident both at public and private institutions. And they find it at religious institutions with varying ideas about their missions.

To be sure, the book does not present issues of religion in American higher education as simple or without tensions. But they find “a surprising openness” to religion in academe.

The authors are John Schmalzbauer, a professor of religious studies at Missouri State University and the author of People of Faith: Religious Conviction in American Journalism and Higher Education, and Kathleen A. Mahoney, a senior staff member at the GHR Foundation and author of Catholic Higher Education in Protestant America: The Jesuits and Harvard in the Age of the University. They responded via email to questions about their new book.

Q: Many people think of religion and higher education as a topic related to religious colleges. Your book also discusses student religious life at secular institutions, many of them public. What do you see as the major trends in student religious life at these colleges?

A: Public and nonsectarian private universities are some of the most religiously diverse places in America. Since the ’60s, they have witnessed an increase in the sheer variety of religious activity, reflecting the rise of campus evangelicalism, the revitalization of Jewish student life, a surge in new immigrant religions and the emergence of alternative forms of spirituality. At the same public university where Coach John Wooden and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar forged an interfaith friendship, religious diversity flourishes. Today the University of California, Los Angeles, is home to nearly 50 religious groups, including the first Campus Crusade chapter, the first Chabad House, a large Hillel building, a 54-year-old Muslim Student Association, a Coptic Orthodox Christian club, a Methodist cafe and a University Buddhist Association. Across the country, private philanthropy has supported dozens of ventures at secular institutions, including the Lilly Endowment’s recent vocation initiative and Yale University’s $75 million Roman Catholic center.

Responding to this diversity, the field of student affairs is rediscovering a more holistic understanding of student development that recognizes religious, secular and spiritual identities (the focus of two recent NASPA gatherings). A growing number of secular institutions have constructed multifaith chapels and meditation spaces, catering to both people of faith and the spiritual but not religious. A burgeoning interfaith movement has tried to connect these diverse communities, though recent findings from the IDEALS survey suggest that universities could do more to foster an inclusive climate.

Q: What is your sense about the directions of scholarship about religion at secular institutions?

A: Over the past 50 years, religion departments have proliferated at public and nonsectarian private institutions. Religion-oriented centers and institutes can be found at Columbia, Colorado, Indiana, New York University, Princeton and the University of Southern California. Most of these centers focus on “religion and” topics, exploring the role of faith in politics, health care and popular media. In the wake of the 2016 election, scholars in history, sociology and political science have investigated the roots of religious nationalism in America and around the world. While some religion scholarship is a version of “knowing your enemies” (Peter Berger’s apt expression), others have cultivated a more empathetic approach, though the current political climate has strained this capacity for scholarly empathy. In the face of resurgent racism, sexism and xenophobia, religion scholars are taking a stand.

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EDUCATION & Local church revitalizes a failing elementary school by sending in congregants to mentor w/ Kids Hope USA program

Commentary by Prof. B.: One of the most life changing ministries I’ve seen a local church embrace is the Kids Hope USA program utilized by College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana.

Here is an overview:

“Frances Slocum Partnership Year in Review” by College Wesleyan, June 8, 2017.


“College Wesleyan Church just finished its seventh year in partnership with Frances Slocum Elementary.  Our partnership has created ways for the church to be intentional in loving our community better.  There are many ways volunteers can invest in Frances Slocum Elementary to build relationships, encourage teachers and staff, and work together to build a stronger community with families.

“One way is through our mentoring program with Kids Hope USA. Kids Hope continues to be a strong academic, social and emotional support system for students and teachers. This year we mentored 85 students each week through Kids Hope in the school.

Another way volunteers are involved at Frances Slocum is through our adopt a teacher/staff ministry. We want all teachers/staff members at Frances Slocum to know they are loved, valued, prayed for, and admired! CWC made the intentional decision to provide an encouragement partner to each member of the Frances Slocum family. Encouragement partners from CWC offer support with notes and small gifts along with prayer. “Receiving a gift or a note of encouragement from my CWC family is a consistent reminder that I am not in this alone. It’s amazing to know that I have someone praying for me and my students on a regular basis,” said Mr. Evans, a third grade teacher at Frances Slocum. Teacher luncheons for teachers and staff is another avenue we use to support and encourage. The first Wednesday of each month the hallways of Frances Slocum are filled with the sweet smells of homemade soups, freshly baked desserts, and fresh salads. Twelve volunteers from CWC work on a rotation to supply a lunch to the teachers/staff at Frances Slocum. Teachers come to the lounge, gather around tables, laugh and talk as they are served lunch by our CWC Body. We want to thank each soup maker, salad creator, dessert baker, server, and lounge hostess for their faithfulness this school year. Your acts of love are appreciated and making a difference in the lives of our Frances Slocum teachers/staff….

Many volunteers continue to support and serve our community throughout the summer.  Our partnership with families at Frances Slocum continues through the summer through relational events. Our church sends over 50 kids to summer camps.  We do Kids Hope summer backyard parties.  We do popsicle parties in neighborhoods where our kids and families live.  We help kids earn bikes through our Tandem Bike ministry.  Last summer over 10 kids earned a gently used bike through  doing community service.” (retrieved from

They signed up retired members of the congregation to volunteer one lunch break each week to meet with a mentee and help them with their homework. Not only is this giving purpose and opportunities for retirees, but it’s also raised the educational level of Francis Slocum School. Kids Hope USA is national program they’ve adopted for missional impact.  Here is more info:

Regardless, the program leverages the expertise of our senior citizens which are a growing percentage of our culture with many of the latchkey children that struggle in our schools.

ADULT EDUCATION & Between 2010-2017 student enrollment at Univ. Of Phoenix fell by 70%.


“The University of Phoenix is perhaps the most well-known for-profit college in the country … Between 2010 and 2017, student enrollment fell by 70%. The downsizing is likely doing little to boost employee morale. According to data obtained from Glassdoor, only 32% of University of Phoenix employees would recommend working at the school to a friend.“

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SALARIES & Ministry Degrees Are Still a Good ROI (return on investment)

Commentary by Professor B. The research cited in this article demonstrates that the ROI, return on investment, for ministry degrees is still significant. When the Christian leader factors in their call from God, a seminary education that sharpens the leaders skills not only is a good investment fiscally, but more important missionally.

5. Religious Studies/Theology

Talk about finding your calling. While devoting your life to the church and dedicating your life to the service of others is laudable, it’s not going to leave you with a lot of profit after you earn your degree. Here are three commonly held jobs theological jobs:

Median Salary: $47,957
30-Year Earnings: $2,828,502
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 75%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 22%

Median Salary: $51,127
30-Year Earnings: $3,015,174
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 80%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 24%

Median Salary: $61,811
30-Year Earnings: $3,645,610
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 96%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 29%

(To understand the methodology used in the survey see the link below.)

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EDUCATION & Is going to college worth it? #PewResearch says Yes!

by ANDREA CAUMONT, Pew Research, 5/19/15.

A new Pew Research Center report on higher education contains a number of findings about the rising value of a college degree (as well as the rising cost of not going to college). College-educated millennials are outperforming their less-educated peers on virtually every economic measure, and the gap between the two groups has only grown over time. Here are six key findings that provide a compelling answer to the question: Is going to college worth it?

1A college education is worth more today. There’s a wider earnings gap between college-educated and less-educated Millennials compared with previous generations.


2College benefits go beyond earnings: In addition to earning more, college-educated Millennials also have lower unemployment and poverty rates than their less-educated peers. They’re also more likely to be married and less likely to be living in their parent’s home.


3College grads are more satisfied with their jobs: College-educated Millennials are more likely to see themselves on a career path, rather than just working at a job to get them by.


4The cost of not going to college has risen. Millennials with just a high school diploma are faring worse today than their counterparts in earlier generations by almost every economic measure examined.


5College grads say college is worth it: About nine-in-ten college grads in every generation say college has been, or will be, worth the investment. Despite a steep rise in college tuitions, Millennials agree.


6College majors matter. Among all grads, science or engineering majors are the most likely to say their current job is very closely related to their field of study and the least likely to say that a different major would have better prepared them for the job they really wanted.

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LEARNING & The Ultimate #InfoGraphic Guide To Note-Taking

by YONG KANG CHAN, 4/24/15.

According to the infographic produced by Westminster Bridge Student Accommodation (WBSA), if you don’t organize and review your notes within the first 9 hours, 60% of what you have learned will be forgotten. Writing down and reviewing your notes is important because you may not have any ideas how to apply what you have learned at the point when you receive the information. Reflecting on them later may be more effective…
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RESEARCH & Crafting Research in the Service of Theological Education #WesleySem

by Joel B. Green, Theological Education Volume 46 Number 1 (2010), p. 10

What is scholarship? Three or four years ago, I was involved in putting together a definition, and this is the language we drafted:

Scholarship means engaging in original research as well as stepping back from one’s investigation in order to look for connections, build bridges, and communicate one’s work effectively.

Accordingly, the term scholarship recognizes discovery, integration, application, and teaching as separate but overlapping dimensions. You may recognize that, with this definition, we were borrowing from Ernest L. Boyer’s book, Scholarship Reconsidered, and especially from the conversation about assessing faculty scholarship that Boyer’s work stimulated.8 We defined an activity as scholarly if it met certain criteria:

• if it requires disciplinary expertise;

• if it is performed in a manner characterized by clear goals, adequate prep- aration, and appropriate methodology;

• if its results are appropriately documented and disseminated; and

• if its significance extends beyond the context of the individual but some- how contributes to the field of inquiry and is subjected to peer evaluation.

This includes books, but not only books. In fact, all kinds of cultural products can arise out of that way of thinking about scholarship.

Download the entire article here: Green on Seminary Research Agendas.pdf

EDUCATION & California State Universities Oust Christian Organizations #InterVarsity

by: Scot McKnight, 9/9/14

While many Christians don’t like this I see something golden here: this may enhance local church ministries in university and college towns. There is no reason to moan that universities and state-sponsored schools don’t have a right to do this, for they do.

RNS by Kimberly Winston

(RNS) A well-established international Christian student group is being denied recognition at almost two dozen California college campuses because it requires leaders to adhere to Christian beliefs, effectively closing its leadership ranks to non-Christians and gays.

California State University, which has 23 campuses, is “de-recognizing” local chapters of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, an evangelical Christian group with 860 chapters in the United States. The university system says InterVarsity’s leadership policy conflicts with its state-mandated nondiscrimination policy requiring membership and leadership in all official student groups be open to all.

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CHURCH PLANTING & Migration Patterns by Education Levels in the 20 Largest U.S. Metros

The chart below breaks out the net migration patterns by education levels in the 20 largest U.S. metros.
by ZARA MATHESON, Pew Research Center

The chart shows the very different patterns of migration occurring across America’s metros. Keep in mind that many of the country’s biggest metros are still gaining overall population, as immigrants continue to flow into places like New York and Los Angeles. But these places are seeing a net loss of Americans of all education levels.

The metros that are attracting educated workers include knowledge and tech hubs like San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, and Denver, and also Sunbelt metros like Phoenix, Charlotte, and Miami.

When we look at just those with professional and graduate degrees, the pattern comes into sharper focus. There have been significant net inflows of educated workers to the true meccas of knowledge work: Seattle, San Francisco, D.C., Denver, San Jose, Austin, and Portland, as well as the banking hub of Charlotte.

Larger metros have the edge in attracting and retaining college grads.

These metros, particularly ones with higher costs of living, have been able to attract and retain skilled workers, even while the less-skilled have departed. San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Miami all saw their ranks of educated residents grow and less educated residents shrink. Lower-paid workers are being priced out, and the jobs that can attract new residents are reserved for the most educated. Boston is one of the few places attracting and retaining more unskilled workers than skilled ones, a perhaps unexpected trend, given its reputation as a center of education and knowledge work.

The pattern for the less educated looks substantially different. The top ten metros that saw the largest net gains among those with just a high school degree were all in the Sunbelt, including Atlanta, Houston, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Florida’s Fort Myers, Tampa, and Sarasota. And when we consider those without a high school degree or equivalent, the places with the largest net gains were mainly Sunbelt tourist destinations with thriving service economies like Fort Myers and Daytona Beach, Florida, and Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

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