A comparison of the religious activity of mainline and non-mainline institutions of higher education in the southeastern United States
The differences in religious and spiritual activity on mainline and non-mainline religiously affiliated campuses were investigated. The activity was measured through documentary analysis of college catalogs and other official publications of the institution. Inquiry was conducted in the Academic Affairs and Student Affairs Divisions to identify institutional policies and positions related to religious expression. The results indicated that mainline institutions focused primarily on knowledge as a form of religious expression, but not to the degree found at non-mainline institutions. Non-mainline institutions also recorded higher expressions of orthodoxy, communalism, ethicalism, and consequentialism than did mainline institutions. The findings are evidence that mainline colleges and universities do educate their students in aspects of religion and spirituality, but they do so differently than non-mainline institutions. Further testing is warranted in order to determine if the findings extended to populations not included in the study, such as geographic areas outside the southeastern US, and to measure the religiosity of individual students who attend these institutions. The official policies and actual religious practice on campus may differ considerably. Additional research will now focus on the purpose and function of mainline colleges and universities and their unique role within higher education. These findings will aid in ensuring continued viability and vitality for these institutions in the years to come.