An Atheist in a Christian College

<p>OK, I'm an atheist, and I've been looking at some Christian colleges. I know some are more conservative than others, but what makes a "conservative" university? How do you know it is conservative? or liberal? Is there such a thing as a "liberal" Christian university?</p>

<p>By the way, on another note, I'm from Texas, so I was considering Baylor. My father's boss's step-daughter got accepted and dropped out a few months later because of the "mandatory chapel services." Is this common in a lot of Christian colleges, or is this another earmarker of a conservative university?</p>

<p>If you're an adamant atheist, I would not recommend attending a Christian school. Heck if you're agnostic and not a Christian who's looking to grow in your personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I wouldn't go to a Christian school. I think most, if not all, that are actually Christian have some mandatory Chapel. At some, like Ouachita Baptist is this like once a week, but Cedarville's chapel is every day.</p>

<p>Besides that, you'll probably have to abide by curfews, strict drinking policies (even if you're 21), less freedom to what you can use the school internet for, etc. Some like Taylor University, even forbid casual dancing, even on breaks, while you are attending.</p>

<p>Some, like Notre Dame are technically "Christian" as it's affiliated with the Catholic Church... but it's not really considered to be Christian.</p>

<p>Yes there are Conservative and Liberal Christian colleges... to find out which are which, do searches online or check out guides like the Princeton Review (though that book doesn't cover all colleges).</p>

<p>For liberal, Davidson (NC) comes to mind. For conservative Liberty comes to mind. There are several like both and plenty in between... those are just what's coming to the top of my mind at the moment for examples.</p>

<p>As an atheist, you probably wouldn't be accepted into a conservative Christian college (unless you lied to them and claimed to believe). There are liberal Christian colleges that accept pretty much anyone.</p>

<p>I don't have any experience with Baylor - other than to have it on my radar for my middle son in a few years as he wants to major in medical research and I've heard they rank quite high.</p>

<p>Idk if this is of any help, but I go to a Catholic (Jesuit) high school, and there are a few atheist students. There seems to be no problem as they aren't required to say prayers before class or receive Communion at school-wide Masses.</p>

<p>@dshinka</p>

<p>Thank you for being so helpful! :-) I'd like to learn a little bit more, though. Do universities vary their theological influences on the student population & curricula per Christian denomination? What about for LACs; do the rules still apply to them if they are affiliated with specific Christian denominations (i.e. Wesleyan University - Methodist)?</p>

<p>dshinka:</p>

<p>Notre Dame is not "considered" Christian? By whom?</p>

<p>Catholics are Christians. Catholic Colleges are Christian Colleges. They may not be the right fit for everybody, but that does NOT mean they are not Christian. And by the way,
Notre Dame, as well as all Catholic Colleges, warmly welcome atheists as well as students of all religions.</p>

<p>Please stop posting uninformed opinions.</p>

<p>
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Notre Dame, as well as all Catholic Colleges, warmly welcome atheists as well as students of all religions.

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<p>There are a number of catholic universities that do not "warmly welcome" non-catholics. Ave Maria University in Naples, FL is one. Non-catholics might be admitted if they are willing to submit to the school's mission, which includes "the formation of men and women in the intellectual and moral virtues of the Catholic faith," but those conditions do not qualify as "warmly welcome."</p>

<p>
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Notre Dame is not "considered" Christian? By whom?

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<p>By many people who self-identify as "Christians" of the born-again/evangelical variety.</p>

<p>My born-again BIL, for example, informed me that "Catholics are not any kind of Christian I know of."</p>

<p>Even if you don't agree with it, if you do not realize that this opinion is quite widely held, it is you who is uninformed.</p>

<p>I doubt that many Catholic colleges "warmly" welcome atheists. They certainly accept them. Whether you perceive the welcome as "warm" probably depends on how you view things such as BC's recent decision to add a crucifix in every classroom. Apparently some non-Catholic professors regarded the addition of a crucifix to their classrooms as less than "warmly" welcoming. (I'm not saying they don't have the right to do it. They are a private Catholic school, after all, and if they choose to assert that fact more forcefully one can hardly blame them.)</p>

<h2>Notre Dame, as well as all Catholic Colleges, warmly welcome atheists as well as students of all religions.</h2>

<p>Not generally a sign of a Christian school if they're that inclusive. Christianity is exclusive (I am the the Way, the Truth and the Light. No man comes to the Father, but by me. -Jesus). Anyone who tells you otherwise either doesn't read the Bible, doesn't believe the Bible or contextualizes it.</p>

<p>All Catholics are not Christian. All Baptists are not Christian. Protestants stress "salvation by fath-alone." Whether you want to call it "saved" or "born-again" this notion comes by verses like "For by grace are we saved through faith, not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast," and "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Of course, I acknowledge verses like "Faith without works is dead," but you have to be careful to not strip the faith part.</p>

<p>I'd consider anyone a Christian that has the faith as outlined in the first two verses.</p>

<p>When someone asserts "Catholics are not Christian" I have to laugh. Who died and made the evangelicals God? LOL.</p>

<p>
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Not generally a sign of a Christian school if they're that inclusive.

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<p>Yeah, that Jesus guy mostly kept to himself. He always liked exclusive clubs where members need not apply!</p>

<p>I think this is an issue of terminology that is specific to discussion of colleges and universities. Generally, in this context, "Christian" and "Catholic" are distinctly separate. Illustrating the point on this, many Catholic elementary and secondary schools are emphasizing this point by returning to their roots ... "XYZ Christian High School" becomes "XYZ Catholic HS"</p>

<p>But it is not an intent to malign or pass judgement on the faithfulness of Catholicism. To the contrary, last I noted, Christ is front and center; yesterday, today, tomorrow for Catholics and Protestants. Purist theologians may debate the issues of Mary, the cup, and others, but the final judgement of that might best be left to the Final Judge. :cool:</p>

<p>RE: Catholic/Christian colleges desiring/welcoming non-Believers, they vary widely. Some see the higher education process as a deeper indoctrination, study, and engagement of a prior commitment. Others see the process as one in which non-Believers may be exposed to both doctrinal issues, materials, and learning as well as developing relationships with believing Christians. In other words some see the campus as a potential hotbed for implementing the Great Commission while others may view it as training for such, but do not wish to encourage or nurture a wide-open debate. For those considering Christian or Catholic schools, exploring this aspect of the institutional mission is critical, it seems to me.</p>

<p>satiravelvet: just a small note - Wesleyan University in CT is not affiliated with the Methodist, or any church, for that matter. Wesleyan broke its ties to the church in the 1930's and is secular, similar to other selective LACs like Williams and Amherst. </p>

<p>but, most of the other 20+ schools named after John Wesley are still Methodist... just a reminder that Wesleyan (no state names attached) is not religiously affiliated</p>

<p>as for your question, it'll depend on the specific school. some Christian schools you will be very unhappy at, but others would be fine. generally, and I emphasize there are exceptions, the more stringent the rules, the more conservative the school. I would seek out the liberal Christian schools in your case</p>

<p>I want to follow up on what Whistle Pig said, to emphasize something that repeatedly causes confusion on this board. When people say that they are looking to go to a "Christian College," what they USUALLY mean is a college that more-or-less integrates more-or-less evangelical Protestant teachings into its curriculum and campus life. They generally don't mean Catholic colleges, and they generally don't mean colleges that are historically affiliated with a denomination but where that fact doesn't play a major role in curriculum or campus life.
There is still a lot of variety in this kind of Christian College-the same student would probably not want to go to Wheaton College or Bob Jones University, for example. But I would have to say that an atheist would probably not be happy at any of these Christian Colleges, because he would be too much out of the mainstream. Indeed, some of them would not admit him, because they have affirmation of faith requirements.</p>

<p>You'll probably be fine as an atheist as long as it's not super strict. If you're anti-religious, you'll have problems.</p>

<p>Atheist at most conservative, Christian colleges: Bad
Atheist at less conservative Christian colleges: Ok, but not ideal.
Atheist at most Catholic schools, especially Jesuit: Accepted, because they like the debates in class.</p>

<p>That's at least how I view it. I'm an atheist going to a Jesuit college, and I think I'll be fine. I went to Catholic school and was able to handle it pretty well. The difference between these schools is if they force their beliefs on you or not. They all should have core curriculums. Look into the course descriptions for their theology core. If it's all indoctrination and affirmation of what they believe, it probably won't work for an atheist. If it's broader- perhaps closer to a philosophical dialogue on god and religion- then you'll be fine.</p>

<p>Yeah, I'd not recommend Pensacola Christian College if you're atheist...</p>

<p>my sister is going to a christian college next year (bethel u) and only applied to christian colleges. it seems that there are a fair share of colleges that do not require chapel daily. some do, some don't. check the policies of the ones you are interested in.</p>

<p>the main differences that i've noticed are:
-some (but not all) make you sign something like a honor code promising not to cheat, steal, and do other things like have sex and drink. but there are plenty of people who get away with it anyway..some are stricter than others
-some require chapel or religious courses. the sciences will stress how science and faith do not contradict.
-no bars/clubs on campus
-tend to be small, private LACs</p>

<p>they really do vary a lot though. (i.e. both wheaton and st. olaf have good programs, but wheaton is very conservative while st. olaf is quite liberal..after all, their head of the religion dept is buddhist.)</p>

<p>good luck on the college search!</p>

<p>If you're militantly anti-religious, I wouldn't recommend it. The nature of Christian colleges varies, and while some have strict rules, not all will. I know a couple of atheists who go to DePaul, which is affiliated with the Catholic Church if I remember correctly. Since you're in Texas, SMU comes to mind. As far as I know, they don't have mandatory chapel services or strict rules, but they are affiliated with the Methodist Church.</p>

<p>I think whether or not you would like a particular Christian school as an atheist depends a lot on why you're looking into Christian schools as an atheist. Can you clarify that at all?</p>