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Learning About Other Faiths Doesn’t Lead Evangelical Students to Lose Theirs

Compared to other colleges, students at evangelical institutions end up gaining the most knowledge of world religions.
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Learning About Other Faiths Doesn’t Lead Evangelical Students to Lose Theirs
Image: Kentaroo Tryman / Getty Images

One of the negative stereotypes of evangelical colleges is that they keep students in a religious “bubble.” But new survey data shows that these schools are particularly effective at teaching students about other faiths, and that this exposure to outside traditions is actually correlated with a deeper commitment to their own beliefs.

The Interfaith Diversity Experiences and Attitudes Longitudinal Survey (IDEALS)—a panel study that surveys the same students before, during, and at the end of their college career—measures basic knowledge about world religions.

The sample included over 1,300 students from 15 evangelical universities, the majority of which were members of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

Compared to students who planned to attend Catholic or private secular universities, evangelical students had a lower baseline level of knowledge. The average student attending an evangelical university could answer just 4.9 questions correctly. However, ...

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