Is Religion Making Its Way Back to College Campuses?

Acacia James, Howard University News Service

Courtesy: muldelta via flickr

Phil Booker, a minister at a church in Montgomery County finds it extremely important for students to practice religion and spirituality on campus. He says the students here at Howard aren’t only driven to do well in school, but they’re also driven to do well in life and being overwhelmed can cause people to compromise their conviction.

Students at Howard University hold an open bible discussion every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Locke Hall lead by Booker. The purpose of the meetings is to give students a space to freely interpret and study the bible.

Howard University is one of the campus ministries for Booker’s church along with the University of Maryland, George Washington, and Montgomery College.

According to NBC one in three Americans under the age of 30, reported that they are not religiously affiliated. However, when dealing with the stressors that college has to offer, students may need a way to relieve their troubles and spirituality and religion may be the way.

Inside the little room on the second floor of Locke Hall, the table in the back corner held snack foods such as Doritos, chips and salsa. In the center of the room, there consisted a group of no more than a dozen students. Most of the students were female with the exception of three males. One boy I sat next to was the son of the leader of the discussion.

Booker starts the bible discussion with a game. Students sat with the desk positioned in a circle, and played a game in which students turned to each other in a quick manner using funny words and the next person has to keep up.

By the end of the game there was one winner and soon after the laughter came to an end, we began the discussion. It started with Booker asking the group to define hypocrisy. Different student raised their hands explaining what they felt hypocrisy was, and how it was demonstrated in the church.

Soon after, Booker began reading an article he found online which discussed the state of hypocrisy in the church. He followed by jumping right into scriptures surrounding that same topic. Booker asked questions on student’s interpretation of the scriptures and then went on to share what the scripture actually means.

The discussion lasted only an hour, and when it concluded some students headed out while others stayed behind to help clean. This is when I decided to talk with the one of the only men in the discussion.

Taieel Williams, a biology member from the U.S. Virgin Islands has been stepping up his role from attending to being a leader in ministry, saying “Right now I guess you could say I’m like transitioning.”

When asked how did he learn about the open bible discussions, he said he was approached by two guys during his freshman year and they asked him did he believe in God. After answering yes, they began asking questions about his spiritual life and he realized he wasn’t living up to it the way he should. This realization is what caused him to accept their invitation to the open bible discussion.

Although his lack of spiritual life was the cause of him coming, Williams says fellowshipping with his brothers and sisters ending with “I just love being with my brothers and sisters.”

Williams says that having spirituality while being in school is more than being in school itself. “You shouldn’t compartmentalize your life. You shouldn't be a student or an athlete, or a christian. Everything should coincide,” he adds.

Whether you’re going to relieve stress or just to freshen up your knowledge of the bible, I
can attest to these meetings being a great way to meet people and relax your mind for an hour.