Article

The Predictors of Religious Struggle among Undergraduates Attending Evangelical Institutions

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This article is the second in a two-part series and focuses on the predictors of religious struggle among students attending evangelical institutions. Of the 900 religiously-affiliated colleges and universities in the United States, a significant portion of institutions (approximately 118) are members of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU). As members of the CCCU, these institutions have a shared commitment to the academic and spiritual development of their students. However, relatively few studies have included datasets with multi-institutional types and longitudinal data. The purpose of this two-part study was to examine the patterns and predictors of religious struggle among traditional undergraduate students attending evangelical institutions compared to those at three other types of institutions. This article addresses the following questions: (a) What are the pre-college characteristics/experiences, college environments, and college experiences that contribute to the patterns of change in religious struggle among college students attending evangelical institutions? (b) Are there any unique predictors of religious struggle for students attending evangelical institutions? A quantitative design using the 2004 and 2007 College Student Values and Beliefs Survey (CSBV) responses from 14,527 students attending evangelical, Catholic, other religious, and nonsectarian institutions was employed. Results indicated that significant differences in the levels and patterns of religious struggle exist between evangelical institutions and other types of institutions. Longitudinal measures revealed that students from evangelical institutions experience higher levels of religious struggle compared to their peers at other types of institutions at the end of their junior year.

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... Despite these shared ideas, the concept of interfaith engagement continues to challenge educators at evangelical institutions (Carter, 2019). Given the lack of structural worldview diversity-meaning the numerical proportion of students, faculty, and staff who identify as non-evangelical at evangelical institutions-these institutions often struggle with enacting formal interfaith practices. ...
... For example, Carter (2019) compared the experiences of religious struggle across institutional types (i.e., evangelical, mainline Protestant, Catholic, other religious, and nonsectarian) and found that the "unique characteristics and experiences before and during college [i.e., academic major, coping behaviors, and political orientation] that are associated with … high levels of religious struggle" (p. 256) influenced students to a greater degree at evangelical institutions compared to students enrolled at other institutions (Carter, 2019). In another example, students at some evangelical institutions have been shown to demonstrate large gains in civic outcomes such as social agency and civic awareness due to discussions of religious differences in college (Armstrong & Kim, 2019). ...
... 23). Administrators should ensure that counseling and mental health services on their campuses are de-stigmatized, de-mystified, and remain zones free of judgment, conducive to productively resolving students' spiritual struggles (Bryant, 2011;Carter, 2019;Pargament, 1990Pargament, , 1996. ...
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This article presents findings from an exemplary case that highlighted some opportunities and challenges one evangelical institution faced when trying to promote interfaith learning and development in its students, despite the absence of formal interfaith practices on campus. The case study, which included an evangelical institution with little to no formal interfaith practice, was conducted as part of the Interfaith Diversity Experiences and Attitudes Longitudinal Survey (IDEALS), a mixed-methods project designed to capture information on the collegiate conditions and educational practices that spur interfaith learning and development. The university was identified as exemplary in that its students empirically demonstrated interfaith learning gains during their first year in college. Results center the importance of the classroom for its role in building the type of trust that allows students to struggle religiously and spiritually. Recommendations for considering interfaith work at evangelical institutions are provided. Among these recommendations are to locate and institutionalize interfaith practices within articulations and expressions of the institutional mission, logic, framework, and language and improve practices that help students develop interfaith sensibilities.
... Therefore, it can be inferred that college students may have higher levels of ATG when compared to older generations. Students in evangelical universities experience more religious struggles than those in non-evangelical universities (Bryant and Astin 2008;Carter 2019). Therefore, the respondents in this study were Christian and Catholic college students from a Christian university. ...
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Religious individuals and communities often struggle with anger toward God (ATG) upon experiencing suffering. ATG is related to poor mental health. Certain types of religiousness can moderate the effect of this negative feeling on well-being; however, research varies. Therefore, this study aims to determine whether religion at the individual (spirituality) or communal levels (moral community) may affect the association of ATG with well-being. Moderation analysis was performed on data from 307 students at a Christian university in Indonesia. Spirituality lowered the effect of ATG as one form of a religious stressor on well-being, but moral community did not. Both the cognitive and affective aspects of spirituality (individual level) are needed to buffer the effects of ATG on well-being. Conversely, the moral/behavior and belonging/communal aspect of a moral community (communal level) do not appear to ensure support for the individual with ATG. The implications of this study are discussed below.
... Existing studies focused too much on Christian samples, as well as on specific facets of religious struggle, i.e., divine struggle; even though there are other facets (Abu-Raiya et al., 2015). Today, researchers are still actively examining religious struggle in the context of Christians (e.g., Carter, 2019;Szcześniak & Timoszyk-Tomczak, 2020). ...
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The phenomenon of young individuals struggling with their religious beliefs can lead to wide-ranging consequences. Existing studies are dominantly Western in context, which may not be applicable in other settings. Therefore, as contextualized and rationalized through an Islamic perspective, the present study aims to build a framework to explore religious struggle. Through a qualitative research design, multiple methods were employed: responses from six Muslim interviewees were reconstructed into a single monologue using composite narrative method, and then narrative analysis was done, followed by method theory and domain theory analyses being conducted. Constructs were identified and discussed, theories as lenses to view the phenomenon were employed, and further evaluations of the phenomenon and relevant constructs were done. A discussion was integrated with each analysis. Through synthesizing the findings, I propose a framework called the religious struggle framework (RSF). With the RSF's flexible, adaptable, and modifiable nature, the framework can be used beyond the present study's population. It can be utilized in both quantitative and qualitative research designs. Limitations and recommendations for further research were also presented.
... Zarzycka (2016) found that in Poland-a highly religious country-most people declared that they felt anger toward God sometimes in their life, and younger generations tend to have more anger toward God compared to older generations. Studies in the U.S. also found that the prevalence of anger toward God is higher among college students, especially for those attending religious institutions (Exline et al., 2011;Carter, 2019). Therefore, it is predicted that Christian college students in Indonesia are not immune to feeling anger toward God. ...
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... Furthermore, religious struggle, just like the other forms of religiosity, occurs around the world and across different religious groups. Empirical studies confirm the existence of religious problems and tensions among Christians (Bryant and Astin 2008;Büssing et al. 2013Büssing et al. , 2016Büssing et al. , 2017aBüssing et al. , b, 2018Carter 2019;Łowicki and Zajenkowski 2017;Szcześniak et al. 2019;Zarzycka 2018;Zarzycka et al. 2017), Muslims (Abu-Raiya et al. 2008, 2015, 2018Ai et al. 2003), Jews (Abu-Raiya et al. 2016;Pirutinsky et al. 2011;Pirutinsky and Rosmarin 2018;Rosmarin et al. 2009Rosmarin et al. , 2017, Hindus (Benson et al. 2011;Exline et al. 2017;Simha et al. 2013;Tarakeshwar et al. 2003), and atheists or agnostic samples (Bradley et al. 2016;Sedlar et al. 2018). ...
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