Research and Special Reports

Graduating seniors are predominantly pro-abortion, approve of homosexual “marriage,” and only occasionally pray or attend religious services.

Survey of College Students
Higher Education
Research Institute

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An Exploration of the Formation of Religious Identity
Among Notre Dame Students
Scholastic Magazine, February 24, 2005
by Nick Kolman-Mandle

This article on the “formation of religious identity among Notre Dame students” reports that a 2003 survey of seniors by the Office of Institutional Research disclosed that their four years had more often lessened faith than increased it. Thus, only 15 percent reported a “slight upward” change (and only one percent “much upward” change), whereas 29 percent reported a “slight downward,” and eight percent a “much downward,” change. The balance reported no change. The article also describes a Georgetown survey of uncertain date of the religious practices of an undisclosed number of alumni of 24 institutions 10 years after graduation. About 77% of the Notre Dame alumni polled said they regularly practiced their religion while 23% did not. While this may be roughly consistent with the later “diminution of faith” survey of 2003 seniors, the proportion of Notre Dame practicing Catholics was at the same time markedly higher than the average 24% of alumni of the other institutions.

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A Nationwide survey raises concens about the impact that
American colleges have on the faith and morals of Catholic Students
The Catholic World Report, March 2003

This article reports the results of a 2001 study by the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) of the effect of four years of Catholic higher education on the religious practices and moral judgments of students of 38 Catholic colleges and universities including Notre Dame. The results are aggregated, and therefore nothing can be said about Notre Dame specifically. We requested, but were not given, the data specific to Notre Dame. It seems reasonable, therefore, to infer that those results were not significantly better than the average. The data disclose the weakness of religious education at the secondary level and the its ineffectiveness, or worse, at the university level. To illustrate: Over the four years, support for legalized abortion rose from 45% to 57%; for legalizing homosexual marriage from 55% to 71%; and for casual sex from 30% to 49%.

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Faculty Adaptations and Opinions at
Brigham Young, Baylor, Notre Dame, and Boston College
Seminars in Christian Scholarship, September 27-29, 2001
by Larry Lyon and Michael Beaty

This report, which was presented at a 2001 conference of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture, describes the unsettling results of a survey of the faculty of four religious Universities respecting their attitudes toward their school’s religious mission and how they adapted to it. Notre Dame was one of the institutions. The others were Boston College, Baylor, and Brigham Young. Among the revealing findings are, for example, these: Fifty-seven percent of Notre Dame faculty believe that no preference in hiring should be given to Catholics. Instead, they said, “academic promise or prominence” should be the sole factor. Only 13.7% strongly disagreed. And 57% couldn’t “create a syllabus” for his or her course “that includes a clear, academically legitimate, Christian perspective on the subject” even if he or she wanted to. For that matter, almost a third evidently don’t want to, for thirty percent don’t believe that Notre Dame “should provide an academic environment that encourages students to develop a well-thought-out Christian philosophy of life.”

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The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from their Christian Churches
Wm B Eerdman’s Publishing Publishing Co. 1998
by James Tunstead Burtchaell, C.S.C.

This magisterial study by a former Provost of Notre Dame of the secularization of Christian colleges and universities provides a template for analyzing the state of affairs at Notre Dame. As Father Burhchaell wrote: “The failures of the past, so clearly patterned, so foolishly ignored, and so lethally repeated, emerge from these stories. Anyone who requires further imagination to recognize them is not up to the task of trying again.”  The considerations of disquieting pertinence that he identifies include: (1)  The transformation of  faculty as the key. “The faculty was the first constituency to lose interest in their colleges being Lutheran or Catholic or Congregational.”  (2) The consequent disregard of religious commitment in faculty hiring. “It became a matter of indifference in the evaluation of prospective colleagues.” (3) The gradualness of the process. “The disengagement required years, sometimes decades.”  (4)  The part played by  transfer  of governance.  “The critical turn often involved forcing those who spoke for the church out of college governance.”  (5)  Recognition of the loss of religious identity too late.  “Almost without exception a rhetoric of concern began on these campuses just as the critical turn had been made . . . . Usually the change  went largely unnoticed because of the stability of the cultural symbols, which altered more slowly. The replacement of the church-related faculty may already have been practically complete, while the student body continued to be recruited from the traditional clientele. The fund-raising actually intensified its appeal to believing contributors whose principal attachment to the institution was their belief that it represented all they had hoped for: real learning linked to real piety.”   What has happened at Notre Dame so plainly replicates this pattern that the end seems inevitable absent a major turnabout in  faculty hiring.

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