Guest Post by Sheryl Young of Ratio Christi
“You will not mention God at any time during this semester.”
“You cannot select a biblical viewpoint as the topic of any paper.”
“Any attempt to mention the validity of Jesus will be met with a failing grade.”
No, these are not the atheist professor’s lines from the movie God’s Not Dead. Statements like this are being made by real-life professors in countless real-life college classrooms across America today.
Statistics in a wide variety of studies show that anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of American youth drop out of church and leave their Christian beliefs between the ages of 18 and 22. Some lose interest during high school but keep putting on a good front for parents and their church.
There may be a direct correlation between this percentage of students and the number of secular liberal professors at the college level. According to Patheos.com of 1,500 full-time professors surveyed, 50 percent had no religion and another 11 percent were agnostic. Professors in physical sciences and psychology are less likely to believe in God.
A study done at George Mason University revealed there is a much higher percentage of professing atheists and agnostics (26%) among the ranks of college professors than those in the general U.S. population. In addition, 51% of professors described the Bible as “an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts,” while only 6% of college professors said the Bible is “the actual word of God.”
Most recently, a Washington Times October, 2016 article indicates a staggering statistic as a sign of the current academic environment: That liberal professors on the brink of retirement today outnumber their conservative peers by a ratio of 10:1 to 12:1. But younger liberal professors – who will have a grip on their classroom for decades to come – now outnumber conservative professors by an average 23:1 at any large university.
These professors are influencing our future teachers, lawyers, judges, politicians, doctors, scientists and lobbyists.
How did we get here?
The atheist movement in America has become increasingly evangelistic, reaching out to young people with the theory that “there is no absolute truth” and “Christianity has no logic, reason, or evidence.”
That’s not all.
There’s a misinformed notion within academic settings that students – especially Christian students – do not have religious rights once they set foot on secular school grounds. We’ve all heard the stories of Christmas song censorship, valedictorians being forbidden to mention God in their speeches, and football teams not being allowed to have student-led prayer.
These problems combined have led to Christian students experiencing immense pressure to deny Christ and biblical truth in favor of secularism and atheism. This may not be “persecution” as we know it in other countries, but they are being verbally silenced, having their written viewpoints suppressed, their rights violated, and their beliefs trampled.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Our students are our future. Christian students must be able to rest secure in the knowledge that they have their own solid belief in Christ – not “because mom and dad say so” or “because the pastor says so.”
There are organizations and ministries working hard to stem the tide of “youth flight” from church and to re-establish a Christian voice on campus. One such ministry is Ratio Christi Campus Apologetics Alliance. Ratio Christi means “Reason of Christ” in Latin. 1 Peter 3:15-16 instructs believers: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (NIV).
Ratio Christi (“RC”) has approximately 200 chapters on college and university campuses, including several international chapters. The students in RC chapters gather specifically to study and learn the historical, scientific, and philosophical reasons for following Jesus Christ under the guidance of certified and degreed leaders. This supplies them with “reasonable evidence” for the authenticity of what they believe, thereby strengthening their own faith and making them better presenters of biblical evidence to those around them.
What about high school?
In speaking with their chapters’ students, RC’s chapter directors often discover that many of them were unprepared by their high school church youth groups to face the onslaught of secular pressure once they got to college. It was all fun and games to keep them occupied.
One student recently confessed, “If it wasn’t for discovering Ratio Christi (when I got to college), I would probably not be a Christian anymore.”
That is why in 2015, RC embarked on the monumental task of mounting chapters for high school students, mentoring pastors, parents, and laypeople to present apologetic evidence to students at high school level. This division is called “RC College Prep” or RCCP. They now have over 30 full-fledged high school clubs with more people being trained almost monthly to start high school clubs in more locations.
What do RC students learn?
RC students in both college and high school learn to do what the Christian character “Josh” did in God’s Not Dead – present factual and philosophical evidence for God in classrooms led by atheist professors or to other groups of nonbelievers – and they often end up getting just that opportunity.
Our chapters also invite atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and adherents to other religions to attend the sessions and investigate the claims of Christianity in friendly discussions and sometimes formal debates. But at the same time, some of our chapters find themselves being “de-recognized” or “uninvited” from campus due to the fact that our student leaders must pledge to adhere to biblical lifestyles. It’s the new intolerance.
The nonprofit ministry’s president, Corey Miller says, “We must not only defend our faith on campus, but we must defend our right to defend our faith. Students who identify themselves as Christians at the beginning of college, with the rest of their lives and careers ahead of them, are under fierce attack and are leaving the Christian faith in alarming numbers.”
RC seeks to “re-establish a strong and reasoned presence of Christian thinking in academia,” as stated at the website.
To this end, our outreach now goes beyond university students to include having an influence on professors with a new movement called “RC Prof.” Bill Bright, the founder of Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), once stated “If I had to do it over again, I’d have started with the professors.” RC President Miller is himself an adjunct professor who experienced discrimination at a university, and prevailed in that instance. So he is gathering Christian professors to make videos encouraging other educators about blending their biblical faith with their vocation, and also to begin influencing non-believing professors to allow discussions and papers encompassing the Christian worldview back into the classroom.
How can parents and other people help?
Home school groups, school teachers, clergy, church members, parents, grandparents and concerned citizens are welcome to get involved with RC at all levels.
Parents might want to learn apologetics along with their kids so that there are no blank stares across the dinner table if a child or teen comes home excited about what they are learning at RC. And, it doesn’t hurt for Christian adults to be able to explain their Christianity in terms other than “blind faith.” The Lord tells us to love him not just with our hearts and souls, but with our minds as well. Intellect and good reasoning – exposing all the tangible evidence there is to follow Christ – do not need to be separated from heartfelt faith.
A good way to start learning about RC and biblical apologetics is by tuning in to their new broadcast, “Truth Matters” which began in January 2017. This innovative streaming/satellite TV program exposes information and interviews about topics that affect cultural and global issues through the lens of the Christian worldview. See where, how and when to watch “Truth Matters.”
Sheryl Young is the Media Outreach Coordinator for Ratio Christi.