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Education Frees Religious Views According to a New Study

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By Emma Koonse, Christian Post Reporter
August 4, 2011|9:31 am

A recent study has found that each year of education increases the odds of people saying there is “truth in more than one religion” by 15 percent.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor Philip Schwadel looked at 1,800 U.S. adults’ reports of religious beliefs, practices, and education for an article in the “Review of Religious Research.”

USA Today reported findings from the study, and for each additional year of education beyond the seventh grade, Americans are:

- 15 percent more likely to have attended congregations in the past week.

-14 percent more likely to report that they believe in a “higher power” than in a personal God. “More than 90 percent believe in some sort of divinity,” Schwadel says.

-13 percent more likely to change to a mainstream Protestant denomination that is “less strict, less likely to impose rules of behavior on your daily life” than their childhood religion.

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-13 percent less likely to say the Bible is the “actual word of God.” The educated, as well as the general public, tend to say the Bible is the “inspired word” of God, Schwadel says.

Schwadel says that people change their ideas about religion according to who they meet in high school and college. As they move through different levels of education, they acquire ever-growing ranges of friendships with people of all different religions and diverse beliefs.

“People don’t want to say their friends are going to hell,” says Schwadel.

The old aphorism goes -the more educated one is the less likely they are to be religious. Schwadel’s findings are surprisingly indicative of the presence of religion in the upper echelons of American’s lives.

Barry Kosmin of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, conducted a similar study on the religious beliefs and behavior of people with the highest degrees available. His findings coincide with Schwadel’s and reveal that people with master’s degrees, doctorates, and professional degrees retain their religious beliefs and practices.

Kosmin says, “The educated elite look a lot like the rest of America,” referring to the likelihood of a highly educated American sharing religious beliefs with a person with less education.

 

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