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Who's Waiting for Your Kids?

Who’s waiting for your kids?  In a few short years, they will leave the safety of your home and church and head off to college.  Who will they meet?  What ideas will they encounter?  What moral choices will they face? 

For most adults, it’s been quite a few years since they’ve set foot on a college campus.  Let us bring you up-to-speed on who and what is waiting for your kids: 

  • Oakland University psychology professor Todd Shackelford, offers class PSY-315 entitled, “Evolutionary Psychology,” where he provides an evolutionary explanation for how religious individuals come to “hold and to have beliefs for which there is no evidence.”
  • Yale, Brown, Harvard, and other U.S. universities sponsor an annual on-campus “Sex Week,” where porn stars and sex workers lead various activities and workshops.
  • Zeta Psi frat boys at Yale University hold up signs reading, “We Love Yale Sluts,” while surrounding the Yale Women’s Center on campus.
  • In February 2011, Northwestern University professor J. Michael Bailey brings two sex workers onto campus for a “live demonstration” after class.
  • According to a 2006 study by sociologists Neil Gross of Harvard University and Solon Simmons of George Mason University, there is a much higher percentage of professing atheists and agnostics (26%) among the ranks of college professors than the general U.S. population.  In addition, 51% of professors described the Bible as “an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts,” while only 6% of college professors said the Bible is “the actual word of God.”
  • According to the Institute for Jewish and Community research, a survey of 1,200 college faculty, more than half have “unfavorable” feelings toward Evangelical Christians.
  • Almost half of full-time college students in the U.S. binge drink or abuse drugs at least once-a-month.
  • In 2006, the Secular Student Alliance, had 50 student-led atheist clubs on U.S. college campuses, but by 2012, there were more than 300 clubs nationwide.

Welcome to college in the 21st century.

Clearly, there are enormous intellectual and moral challenges awaiting our Christian students on the university campus.  So here’s the next question you must answer:  Are your kids ready to face these challenges?  Well, if they are the typical Christian student in the U.S., the answer is clearly no.

Since 2001, sociologist Christian Smith has been directing the National Study of Youth and Religion, the most comprehensive research on the religious beliefs and practices of U.S. teens.  Smith published his initial results in a groundbreaking book, Soul Searching:  The Religious & Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers.  What he discovered does not bode well for the faith of our youth. 

According to Smith’s research, American teens:  1) are almost completely inarticulate about their faith and unable to explain its most basic tenets, 2) are largely moral relativists and religious pluralists, and 3) view God as a distant being who exists solely to make them happy, but who is irrelevant to most aspects of their lives.  Furthermore, students who abandoned the religious beliefs they were raised with did so primarily because of intellectual skepticism and doubt.  Teens said things like, “’It didn’t make any sense anymore,’ ‘Some stuff is too far-fetched for me to believe,’ ‘I think scientifically and there is no real proof,’ and ‘Too many questions that can’t be answered.’”

The data presented here can be put in the form of an equation: 

Tragic Equation
How do you suppose this equation plays out for many of our Christian students over the course of four years at college?  The results are tragic.  Study after study after study confirms that many of our students leave for college and shortly thereafter, leave the church for some period of time.  Some come back, but many do not. Indeed, you most likely know several young people who have walked away from God during their college years.  A close friend’s kid, a student from your church, or even a child within your own family. 

And the hemorrhaging of youth from our churches won’t stop until we get intentional about solving the problem.  On the university campus, secular college professors are very intentional about indoctrinating your kids.  In a candid moment, prominent atheist professor Richard Rorty tells you exactly what college faculty like him plan to do with your kids:  

“...we try to arrange things so that students who enter as bigoted, homophobic, religious fundamentalists will leave college with views more like our own…we do our best to convince these students of the benefits of secularization....So we are going to go right on trying to discredit you in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than discussable..”

Make no mistake, there are plenty Richard Rortys out there, waiting for your kids.  So, what are you going to do prepare them for the serious challenges ahead?

That's why I'm hosting the Stand to Reason RETHINK youth apologetics conference tomorrow in Orange County, California. So, don't have a plan in place yet?  Then start by coming to RETHINK.  There's still time to sign up.  We'll even let you register at the door.  And if you can't come to us, we'll come to you.  

Parents, pastors, youth workers, Christian educators, Sunday School's time to get serious about training the next generation.  


When the moment comes to move in another city or country for studying parents get a little worried. But I believe that as long as the child has received the necessary education during his childhood about religion and church, there are no reasons to believe that their kid will deviate from the normal pattern.

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Brett Kunkle is the Student Impact Director at Stand to Reason. He is a huge fan of his wife and 5 kids, surfing the Point in Newport Beach, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yes, in that order.