Traditional religious ideals evolving to keep up with society

 By: Natalie Shultz

Approximately 47 percent of American adults say they attend church regularly, according to the Institute for Social Research’s World Values survey conducted in 2005.  That means about half the colonial American population would have been in trouble with the law for missing church on Sundays.  Today, many religious groups and organizations are attempting to appeal to more young people by putting a non-traditional spin on traditional religion.


USF Senior Danesis Socorro grew up in traditional Catholic schools in Tampa, and says she has noticed a change in not only the attendance to church, but also in the general attitude towards going.


“When I was growing up, I was always told that we are blessed so much each day, that it doesn’t kill us to take one hour out of our lives each Sunday to give back,” Socorro said.  “And dressing my best for church was, and remains, something that I will always live by.  It seems like people today just roll out of bed and go as if they are going to class.”


Jeremy Stephens, an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship staff member at USF, says a problem attributing to the decline of attendance to many traditional church settings is that they tend to isolate themselves from the rest of the community.  He says anyone is invited to attend Inter Varsity’s meetings called “Common Ground,” or one of the eight small groups that meets around campus focusing on topics any where from choir to multiculturalism.


“(quote from Stephens).”


Stephens says the main difference between their group meetings and traditional religious meetings is the format.  He says students are looking for things they can do together and things they can relate to, rather than just listening to one person speak or read.  Community service, etc…. (Need to finish the rest of the interview with him… have been playing phone tag).


I also am waiting to hear back from Paige Costley to do a full interview with her about her group, the Good News about Jesus Christ, which she says does not have the typical rules and regulations of a traditional church which scare people away.


Still trying to get in touch with other students who are very involved in religious organizations on campus to tell how they think the groups are different and why they prefer them over usual church settings.


Although statistics do show a decline in church attendance in recent years, both Costley and Stephens say their groups are growing, and as the country continues to grow even further away from old fashioned religious practices, and in turn create innovative ways to have fellowship with other believers, students and non-students alike will inspire the urge to stray from the familiar.

 “quote from Stephens or Costley.”



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