Scrutiny poses a challenge to religion on college campuses


As students at a liberal arts college, discussion, debates and challenges to our thoughts and beliefs are commonplace. We go to science labs and think of new ways to solve a problem. We go to English workshops and examine our writing through a critical lens. We read philosophy that challenges our moral outlooks. As we expand our minds and mold our identities, our religious beliefs aren't exempt from this scrutiny.
Scrutiny is not a bad thing. Close examination of our beliefs drives us to question and think. While often times this can result in a change of heart or an abandonment of religion, it can also strengthen beliefs and incite a greater rational understanding of our spiritual convictions.
In regards to current trends, this questioning isn't unique to DePauw. According to a recent study by sociologists from the University of California, Berkeley and Duke University published in The Huffington Post, the number of people who do not consider themselves as a part of an organized religion has dropped dramatically in recent years. One-third of American adults under the age of 30 do not identify with a religion.
However, the article notes that the drop does not reflect a plunge in spirituality, but rather a decline in affiliation with religious organizations. We question authority and we reflect before we believe.
DePauw cultivates students' abilities be open-minded, and to think for ourselves. This however, means that often times a larger religious affiliation no longer suits the value system that is unique to an individual. The same way that we agree with certain political views of certain parties, but perhaps not the larger party ideology.
However as we tailor our outlooks to ourselves, a sense of community in shared values falls to the wayside. For previous generations, church was a place to congregate as a community, temple bolstered family bonds and synagogue was a time to devote to loved ones. As these organizations decline in popularity, will our sense of community and togetherness also fall?
As an editorial board we respect religion. Some of us are religious and others are not. We are not necessarily bemoaning the loss of the religious organization, but rather the larger loss of community cohesion this mirrors. How will this shape our society in the future? And focusing even closer, how will it shape the DePauw community?
Our hope is that being a part of DePauw's campus - literally being on campus - is meaningful enough to incite a healthy sense of community. We will always respect the individual's own search for definition in truth, value and belief, but we are weary of when that obsession with defining one's own beliefs becomes a barrier toward the rest of society.