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Polls show an increase in religious faith

March 19, 1997

By Jeff Talbert

Lariat Reporter

Recent polls have shown that although national church attendance appears to be on the decline, more people are believing in the Bible and professing to be Christians.

Pollster George Barna was reported in The Providence Journal-Bulletin as finding that 86 percent of people interviewed profess to be Christians. But Barna also found church attendance to be as low as 37 percent in any given week.

Dr. Jeter Basden, associate religion professor and assistant director of ministry guidance, said more people are professing faith in God because of the uncertainties, the complexities and the hopelessness of the world.

'People are turning to God to find hope, meaning, purpose and joy in life,' he said.

He said that although people are professing faith in God, they are disenchanted with the institutional church.

'They see the institutional side of the church and not the spiritual fellowship side,' Basden said. 'Some of this may be the church's fault.'

Dustin Zanders, a Rockdale sophomore, said he is a Christian but does not always go to church. He said churches are 'not meeting the needs of what people expect the church to be like.'

Basden said he believes a fewer percentage of University students are going to church now than a generation ago, but he believes there is a growth in the percentage of students who profess faith in God.

He said this is evidenced by increased student involvement in parachurch organizations such as Campus Crusade, Young Life or Mission Waco, and the growth of the number of students going on mission trips.

'Students get involved in a lot of parachurch organizations and use that as a substitution for church,' Basden said.

He said he believes his generation has the tendency to substitute church attendance for personal faith, while the younger generation tends not see the importance of church attendance along with their personal faith.

'It's like a student saying he'll substitute studying with going to class,' Basden said. 'A student can't do that. A student has to both go to class and study.'

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