Journal Article

Higher Education and Theological Liberalism: Revisiting the Old Issue*

Sam Reimer

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 71, issue 4, pages 393-408
Published in print January 2010 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online June 2010 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI:
Higher Education and Theological Liberalism: Revisiting the Old Issue*

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It has long been assumed that higher education has a corrosive effect on religious belief and practice. Contrary to research from the 1970s and 80s, however, recent studies show that the college experience has little effect on the religiosity of college students. In this paper, I reconcile these opposing viewpoints by showing that higher education has a liberalizing effect, but only for a minority of students. A sample of church-going Protestants demonstrates that those with higher education are more theologically liberal, but the type of education matters more than the amount of higher education. Exposure to secular theories and whether one attends secular or religious schools have robust effects on theological liberalism.

Keywords: education; Protestant Christianity; beliefs, congregations

Journal Article.  5959 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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