By Ashley Tripp, Student at the University of Alabama
Since the University of Alabama rests in the heart of the Bible Belt, it came as no surprise to me as a freshman to see many college students attend church on Sunday. However, what my eyes didn’t see was the increasing number of college students refraining from practicing their religion.
In an article in The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf argues why he thinks college students are losing their practice in their own beliefs and morals.
Friedersdorf says when freshmen journey off to college, “They leave their church, the community incentives to attend it, and the watchful eye of parents who get angry or make them feel guilty when they don't go to services or stray in their faith. Suddenly they're surrounded by dorm mates of different faiths or no faith at all.”
From my experience as a college student, certain barriers can create conflict in keeping religion as a part of the college equation. These barriers include negative influences from peers, the “I don’t have time for that, I’m too busy” excuse and “Thirsty Thursdays.”
The role of religion in the lives of college students on some campuses has become a thing of the past. However, I’m here to tell you that it is possible to make room for your religion. Here are the different ways I have incorporated religion into my college experience.
Get Plugged Into a Ministry
Whatever your religion is, get plugged in with people who share your same beliefs and practices. I chose to become involved with Bama Cru, Campus Crusade for Christ’s chapter at Alabama. Surrounding myself with a community of believers, I created relationships and gained a deeper understanding of the Christian faith. It wasn’t until college when I realized Christianity was not just a certain religion but also a relationship with Jesus.
Take On a Leadership Role
Are you passionate about your beliefs? Seek after a leadership role on campus. I became my sorority's chaplain and spread the love of Jesus Christ among my Gamma Phi Beta sisters. Some of my friends from Bama Cru led a six-week video series from Matt Chandler on dating, relationships and sex based off of the book of Song of Songs in the Bible. Open to anyone, the series was held at different sorority houses each week. In addition, my sorority collaborated with another sorority for a Bible study on Marian Jordan’s book, “Radiance.”
Attend a Retreat
This past May, I went on Greek Summit, a summer projected hosted by Campus Crusade for Christ in Destin, Fla. There, I met over 100 college students from across the nation. The purpose of the mission trip was to learn how live out one’s faith and how to become an influence in your sorority or fraternity. It was probably the best two weeks of my college career. I learned a great deal about the Gospel and what it looks like to share one’s faith with your sorority sisters.
Make it a Priority
Reading the Bible and attending church is what “Culture Christianity” tells society is the right way to practice Christianity. I’ve discovered it’s a daily walk and a personal relationship. When I wake up, I do my best to make it a priority to spend time with God, not in a routine manner or because it’s my duty as a Christian, but because God is my reason for living. It’s almost like brushing your teeth. Do you brush your teeth because it’s a part of your routine, or do you do it so that your teeth won’t rot away?
Olivia Gartzman, a freshman at Alabama, said she goes to Hillel and spends the High Holy Days with her family.
“I go to temple whenever I can to connect with God,” Gartzman said. “I also keep in touch with my rabbis, as well as my friends and directors from a Jewish camp I attended these past three summers.”
With enough passion and perseverance, it is possible to incorporate religion into your college experience. Go ahead and give it a try!
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