I’m Jewish. I’m Hindu. I’m not going to a “Christian” college. I am not interested in having someone else tell me what I should think about spirituality.
Any of these statements sound like something you might say? You are not alone. Many students won’t even consider a college that has a church affiliation. But as Bob Dylan said, “The Times They Are a-Changin.”
The Huffington Post recently had a review of Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania. If you are not familiar with Muhlenberg it is a small liberal arts college of 2,200 students affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. And 34% of its students are Jewish.
Wants a kosher menu at the student union? Got it. Want a Hillel House? Got it. Want a partnership with Jewish Theological Seminary in New York? Got it. Want some people to host a seminar or any important events? Got it– visit https://www.halfmoonseminars.org/.
There are also no required religion classes and no required church attendance.
Inside Higher Ed has also recently examined the changes occurring at some colleges that have historic ties to different Christian Colleges. Elmhurst College in suburban Chicago started as a seminary for the United Church of Christ, one of the most liberal Christian churches.
Over the years the college moved away from its background and became very secular. In the past few years,however, Elmhurst has been refocusing its mission to present a Christian dialogue very different from the conservative Christian voice typically heard. The focus is now on intellectual excellence, community, social responsibility, service and ministry.
Wagner College in New York City, affiliated with the Lutheran Church, has opened the doors to its chapel to the Muslim, Jewish and Hindu students on campus. The focus of the campus is on a climate of acceptance and openness to exploring spirituality.
When considering which colleges you might want to apply to, don’t initially eliminate a college just because it might have a religious affiliation. Rather, look beneath the surface to see how that college views its mission.
If the mission is to push a particular faith, you might not be comfortable on that campus if you are not of that faith. But if the focus is on understanding each person’s spirituality, you might want to take a deeper look.