This article suggests that denominational representation at denominationally-affiliated colleges and universities is declining.

An (not the) explanation?

The perceived high cost of a Christian education alongside drops in denominational loyalty have contributed to the changing demographics . . . .

“So many people now think that everything is just a different flavor,” said Mike O’Neal, president of Oklahoma Christian University, a Church of Christ school. “If I’m a Methodist, generally I don’t care that a university is Nazarene or Calvinist or whatever. The perception is, we’re all alike.”

Are we speaking here of denominational loyalty among prospective students and their families, among the colleges and universities, or both?  The two factors are related, but distinct.  To the degree that the college can’t faithfully transmit or inculcate a denominationally distinctive point of view (I know I could have said worldview, but I’m not trendy enough for that), it is difficult for folks in the pews to have a clear and coherent sense of what they’re supposed to be about.

But there are also other considerations growing out of the “culture” (I’m trendy enough to use that word).  There’s a great deal of pressure to care about excellence and to define it in largely secular terms (anything from sports success to law school admissions to research productivity).  There’s an obvious tension between excellence defined in this way and denominational fidelity in hiring and admission standards.

And I haven’t even mentioned the powerful and distracting lure of popular culture, which certainly strengthens adherence to some sort of national character at the expense of religiously distinctive subcommunities.

Other thoughts?

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