PSU Survey: Spirituality, Ethics, and Religious Services


It is always interesting how people summarize their data, very telling. My favorite line of the summary below, “they pray at least sometimes.” Yup, every time I stub my toe.

Did you know…

While 49.9% of students consider themselves to be “strongly” spiritual, 36.1% consider themselves to be “strongly” religious.
When asked about the influence on their personal behaviors, 79.1% reported their ethical principles have a strong influence.
Approximately 48% of students indicated they had attended religious services or events on campus since coming to college, and 46.7% had attended events or services off campus.
When asked about the frequency in which they pray, 64.7% of students indicated they pray at least sometimes.

For more information about this survey, please visit http://www.sa.psu.edu/sara/pulse/148-Cera.pdf.

Another interesting tidbit from the survey. Again, not so much the results as the decision to phrase the question in the manner they did:

Similarly, 81.2% reported that it is important that others view them as being ethical, compared to 35.9% and 29.6% who reported it is important to be viewed by others as being spiritual and religious, respectively (see Table 1).

Table 1

So students are realizing that it is important for others to view them as being ethical. I am not sure, however, that this means that the other near 20% didn’t view this as important. Perhaps they had the “do not be as the Pharisees” approach. I also wonder, given that nearly 50% considered themselves to be “strongly” spiritual and 36% considered themselves “strongly” religious (and how does one define “religious”?), if the fact that such relatively low percentages say that it is important for others to view them as spiritual/religious reflect a concern on the part of their part that being perceived as spiritual/religious would in fact be a negative. In other words, that their peers or faculty might think less of them if they knew that they considered themselves spiritual/religious.

It is interesting then to see that a significant number those polled  did believe that these factors influence their lives.

Table 2

There is much more of interest but I will leave you with one more set of observations from the survey.

Views on Religion, Spirituality, and Ethics
When asked about their views regarding several religious issues:

  • 19.4% of students reported believing there is only one true religion (with 8% being unsure) (data not shown);
  • 71.9% indicated they believe they are being true to their religion while accepting other religions (with 19.4% responding the question is not applicable to them or they are unsure) (data not shown);
  • 84.0% responded they think there is a difference between being religious and being spiritual; the majority defined being religious as being affiliated with a specific religious group or faith system and following traditional or established religious practices whereas the majority defi ned being spiritual as holding personal beliefs or having faith in a higher power (data not shown);
  • 48.7% indicated they feel there is a strong connection between religion and ethics (see Chart 2);
  • 50.7% reported they believe there are strong connections between religious practices and character development (see Chart 2); and
  • A larger percentage of students strongly support groups of different faiths working together to provide programs (50.2%) compared to groups of different faiths remaining separate or independent to provide programs (9.8%) (data not shown).

The whole thing is worth reviewing. I am still chewing on it.

 

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