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“Why are the big colleges and universities turning out so many unbelievers?

Of course I know that there have been times when more unbelievers came out of our big educational institutions than are coming out today. A little more than 100 years ago when French atheism and deism were sweeping over the land hardly one American college student in fifty was willing to be known as a Christian. But that was only an epidemic. The students caught it from current literature and the colleges were no more responsible for it than they were for the measles and smallpox of the period…

So the fact that there is ten times as much organized Christian activity in the colleges today as there was a generation ago does not prove that there is ten times as much Christianity in the colleges as there was then, but only that Christianity in the colleges is expressing itself in organized activity ten times more than it did then. Reason about it as we may, we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that of the vast army of young men who go off to our big colleges and universities carrying in their hearts the simple faith of their fathers, only a small number comes back with a faith that is sufficiently substantial to be of any practical value in life. And the same is true, though in a less degree, of our young women. This fact does not rest upon statistics or mere opinion; it is a matter of common knowledge among all who are interesting themselves in the spiritual problems of our educated young men and women.” (Edward Pell, Out Troublesome Religious Questions, 1916, p.77-78)

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