Is St. Olaf very rigidly Christian?

As decision day creeps up slowly but surely I am really considering St. Olaf College. One of my concerns about St. Olaf is that I was wondering if it is mandatory to attend church or if the majority of the students go to this school because they are Christian. How conservative is the campus as a whole? Can I be openly bisexual without getting talked about or awkward treatment?

Here is the link to St. Olaf’s mission statement.

St. Olaf is affiliated with the ELCA which is the most liberal Lutheran denomination in the US. Daily chapel is available, but in no way required. If you’d like to get a notion of what chapel services look like, check out this link:

Since you have specific concerns, contact the admissions office and ask them to help you speak directly with some current students like you.

Wishing you all the best!

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Thank you!

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@amgallagher23 Don’t know if you have already made your decision, but my student has found that while there are Christians at St. Olaf, there are also many atheists, agnostics, and some Hindus as well. There are no requirements to attend church, and many different expressions of sexual identity. They have found that St. Olaf students overall to be very accepting, and the atmosphere on campus to be very supportive. Hope this helps

Saint Olaf alum here! I know U.S. News&World Report makes St. Olaf sound like an evangelical fundamentalist school, but I promise you it is not. There’s a chapel with daily services for people who want to attend, but nobody is forced to attend. Students can also give chapel talks and the topic doesn’t have to be religious. And like @xanthippe said, the majority of students are either atheist or non-Christian. I entered college a somewhat edgy atheist so I was quite skeptical of the religious aspect. After spending four years there, I came away with a good deal of knowledge on religion from various humanistic perspectives (social, political, cultural, philosophical, theological and so on). The knowledge I gained helps me understand and appreciate other people’s traditions better and also allows me to examine my own perspectives confidently. I truly believe I received one of the best education possible.

The school has a long history of liberal arts learning and places free intellectual inquiry at the forefront of its mission. Here’s a document created in 2000 reflecting on the school’s mission and value in depth ( And finally, I’ll leave this address by Robert Pippin from U of Chicago ( I know the address is directed at students of U Chicago, but the quality of liberal arts learning described is exactly what you will get at St. Olaf. Good luck!

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I have to laugh since the only person’s kid I know that went there was Jewish. She also loved the school and had a job upon graduation.

St Olaf is associated with ECLA wing of the Lutheran Church. This is a Progressive Christian denomination so very liberal and with liberal views about homosexuality (e…g support marriage equality). Maybe contact the SAGA (was GLOW) club leaders? Search “Olaf Sexuality and Gender Alliance”. It is one of the oldest clubs on campus and very active.

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I had the same concern so I Googled various Christian forums. The only stuff I found on St Olaf was Christian parents warning one another that St Olaf wasn’t actually Christian enough! Our kid is there now. Many kids show religious affiliation on their Instagram, but no one has talked about their faith to our daughter and everyone she has met is liberal.

Since the original post was made over a year ago, the OP has long ago made a decision. Closing thread.

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