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Union students express spiritual beliefs in survey

Union University undergraduates completed a wide-ranging Christian Life Survey that examined their beliefs and attitudes. (Photo by Anne Richoux)
Union University undergraduates completed a wide-ranging Christian Life Survey that examined their beliefs and attitudes. (Photo by Anne Richoux)

JACKSON, Tenn.Jan. 14, 2014 – Union University undergraduate students expressed consistent beliefs in a survey assessing the quality of their spiritual lives.

The Center for Scripture Engagement at Taylor University in Indiana conducted the Christian Life Survey early last year, with the center evaluating more than 4,000 full-time students from 13 Christian universities across the United States.

“The survey shows not only what students believe but also how they practice their beliefs in the campus community,” said Taylor Worley, assistant vice president for University Ministries at Union.

Nearly 500 Union students completed the online survey, which was a response significant enough to provide an accurate reflection of the overall campus population, said Bryan Carrier, acting dean of students at Union.

The center only surveyed member institutions of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Because the surveyed institutions possess missions and purposes that are congruent with those of Union, Carrier said the data provide an accurate perspective of living and learning within an environment of Christian higher education.

“Union’s survey results are consistent across the board, as our students showed that they are on the same page spiritually,” Worley said. “Our students hold the convictions that the university holds, as well as Union’s statement of faith. Students also revealed they are putting those convictions and beliefs to practice.”

The survey issued 51 questions from seven topics, ranging from how focused students are on God to how connected students are to other believers. Survey questions included how often students attend worship services, whether they desire to obey God and if they talk about the Bible with their friends.

For example, nearly 98 percent of Union survey participants identified as Christians when asked, “Who are you spiritually or religiously?” More than 96 percent of students also answered positively when asked if they believed in the Bible.

Worley said the survey results supported what the university had long believed – that Union students are highly focused on God, spiritual outreach and the Bible.

In addition, the survey affirmed a growing collaboration among different university departments that contribute to the spiritual welfare of students, Worley said. As a result, students are receiving spiritual guidance and encouragement from not only the Office of University Ministries but also other sources such as professors, student life leaders and athletic coaches.

“The data represent a very holistic approach to Union spiritual life, as the spiritual culture permeates all areas of campus,” Worley said. “We also see that students are coming to us with strong convictions, and they’re willing to put their convictions to practice.”

Carrier noted that Union’s survey results contrast with popular studies suggesting that college-aged adults nationally have few spiritual beliefs, let alone a strong Christian faith. As a result, he said the survey can encourage prospective students and their families looking for an institution that reflects their faith and convictions.

“The survey results provide a contrasting view to the post-Christian trend in our society,” Carrier said. “Union University provides students with a rigorous academic experience that is rooted in the Christian intellectual tradition and is bolstered by a grace-filled community that fully supports the spiritual development of our students.”

For more information about the survey, visit tucse.taylor.edu/research/.

By Beth Knoll

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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