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Yale Student Wrestles with Morality After Religion

In February 2015 the Higher Education Research Institute released the results of its annual "Freshman Survey," a questionnaire given to over 150,000 first-year college students in the United States. In 2014, 27.5 percent of incoming college freshmen selected "none" as their religious preference, the highest rate since the survey began in 1971. Thirty years ago, only 10 percent of incoming students identified as "nones."

A writer for Yale University's Yale Daily News noted that 34 percent of Yale's freshman class identified as having no religion. The writer, Scott Greenberg, offered these insightful comments:

The secularization of college students in America has seemed a foregone conclusion for some time, yet it represents a momentous shift for our university and society at large that we have not yet come to grips with. I submit that even the best of our secular institutions have not yet been able to replicate what religion used to provide to its followers. …
[In particular], there is one traditional role of religion that few communities at Yale have figured out how to fill: the role of moral compass. Religion presented constant demands to its adherents about how to live better, using regular rituals and communal norms to spur members constantly to moral action. On the other hand, there is no evidence that Yale has developed any comparable institutional frameworks for ensuring that Yale students are more ethical when they graduate than when they arrive. Morality isn't something we talk much about as a campus … Violence, lying, cheating, and greed remain rampant in our society, and few institutions have stepped up to help people to be better.

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