There’s a project I’ve been interested in doing for some time, and I finally was able to complete it this weekend. (I actually did it a number of years ago and wanted to see if anything had changed since then.)
Before you read further, try to guess the number of Christian groups at any one large college campus. Also, try to guess the number of atheist groups, Muslim groups, Jewish groups, etc.
I wanted to get some hard numbers on this, so here’s what I did:
I used the Wikipedia list of the Top 10 largest universities in the country as a starting point. Each school on the list has over 40,000 students. Some have over 50,000.
All the major universities have pages on their websites specifically for student organizations. It’s easy to search for just the religious groups or just the special interest groups. At many of the sites, it’s also easy to see which groups are active and which groups are not.
I was only interested in the active groups — the ones that meet regularly and are recognized by the school.
To the best of my ability, I organized the clubs by faith and (if necessary) sect. There may be mistakes along the way, so I provided the raw data. Feel free to rip it apart. I’ll post an updated version when I make changes.
I can anticipate people saying I lumped too many different versions of Christianity together. I separated larger sects out, but ultimately, some groups simply revolved around having faith in God whether they were athletes, accountants, or Asian. Those are all “Christian” groups to me and there’s no need to dissect them further.
The results look something like this:
And here’s the PDF of the raw data for the spreadsheet.
Amazingly, in the four years since I last did this, one thing is very clear: There are a hell of a lot of Christian groups and only one atheist group (if that) on all these campuses. I suspect this ratio doesn’t change much at smaller schools.
Of course everyone has a right to start an organization. I’m not saying Christians should stop forming them. I question why there is such a need for so many of them on any one campus, though.
I also wonder if the atheists are more united than the Christians on these campuses. Are the groups larger because there is just one of them? Why is there never more than one atheist group at a school?
I have my own speculations about the answers to these questions, but I’ll stop here for now.
Maybe those of you interested in this info can take this a step or two further.