William Lane Craig, the Secular Student Alliance, and some suspicious statistics

So the Secular Student Alliance made an infographic with some information they got off the Campus Crusade for Christ… er, I’m sorry, “Cru” website. The information on “Cru’s” website turned out to be a mistake, so the Secular Student Alliance made a new infographic with the correct information. In response, William Lane Craig whined about how the SSA “utterly distorted the situation” and accused them of “spin.” Waa, waa, whatever. But I did find one thing interesting in Craig’s podcast about this.

It’s what Craig claimed about Campus Crusade’s sorry, Cru’s success at evangelism (after the 12:00 mark):

They also reported that during the past school year they had more than one million exposures to the gospel, what that means is that there were more than one million complete sharing of the Four Spirtual Laws or Knowing God Personally booklet with students, and as a result there were 127,000 responses to place faith in Christ and become a Christian. So they say that they are seeing a response rate that continues to increase every year. Apparently, the number of decisions for Christ grew from 115,000+ to 127,000+. So students are continuing, in increasing numbers, to come to faith in Christ.

This is the booklet Craig is talking about. Craig is bragging about the fact that Cruade Cru got a million people to let them get through their silly, scripted evangelistic pitch. I suspect I may be included in that statistic; the last time I was in Madison hanging out at the student union (as an alumni), I got some young evangelist come up to me and I let them give me their spiel (I think it was the “four laws,” spiel, though I don’t really remember). When they were done, the conversation went something like this:

Young evangelists: Want to come to Jesus now?
Me: No.
Young evangelists: Oh.

Whoever sent them out evidently hadn’t prepared them for that. They had no rebuttal. I felt kind of bad for them. And those are the kind of events Craig is bragging about with his “over a million” statistic. It’s a meaningless number which I assume Campus Crusade Cru only collects because it sounds impressive to people who don’t think about it very hard.

The fact that they’re bragging about a meaningless statistic like that makes me suspicious of their claims about how many people they got to become Christians. I’ve heard many former evangelists of of the Campus Cru sort talk about later becoming disillusioned with the supposed effectiveness of Crusade Cru’s methods. If someone could find me good links on that I’d be appreciative.

Also, perhaps most significantly, the tale of ever-growing success for, ah, fuck it, Campus Crusade for Christ doesn’t fit well with the fact that young people are America’s least-Christian demographic, and huge majorities of them describe Christianity as judgmental, hypocritical, and anti-gay (the last of these is especially bad given strong levels of support for gay rights among young people).

You can actually see the effects of this on college campuses. At Madison, the local Campus Crusade chapter was huge, but their success seemed to hinge on hiding all the icky stuff about their group. Before the “Cru” name change went nation wide, they were calling themselves “Student Impact” rather than Campus Crusade, and the last big event I saw them advertising was called “Jesus Without Religion” or somesuch, which should tell you something about how popular religion is among today’s college students.

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