Princeton Review ranks most and least religious schools
A survey listing the nation's most religious colleges revealed some surprises.
August 19th, 2011
11:53 AM ET

Princeton Review ranks most and least religious schools

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - Bennington College students recently learned that their Vermont school had received an honor that some might consider dubious: They attend the least religious college in America, according to an annual educational survey.

Bennington’s selection was part of an intriguing national survey listing the Top 5 colleges in the U.S. for most and least religious students.

The survey is part of a larger study conducted by the Princeton Review, a Massachusetts-based educational services company, for its new book, “The Best 376 Colleges: 2012 edition.”

Princeton Review interviewed 122,000 students at 376 top colleges to rate their schools and describe their campus experiences. Some of the categories included: Top colleges for “Most Conservative/Most Liberal Students,” “Best Professors,” and “Great Financial Aid.”

The survey’s questions about religion, though, caught our attention.

The 5 colleges with "most religious students” were: Brigham Young University, which is Mormon, in Utah; Hillsdale College in Michigan; Thomas Aquinas College, a Catholic school in California; Wheaton College, an evangelical school in Illinois; and Grove City College, an evangelical school in Pennsylvania.

The 5 colleges with “least religious students” were: Bennington College; Reed College in Oregon; Bard College in New York; Vassar College and Sarah Lawrence College, both in New York.

Robert Franek, author of "Best 376 Colleges," says the survey’s method for determining a college’s religiosity was simple: The Princeton Review just talked to students.

“We wanted to hear from whom we consider the college experts - current college students,” he says. “Those are the folks who are the real experts.”

Franek says students were asked if they strongly agreed or strongly disagreed that other students on campus were religious. Students were asked to give their answers on a five-point scale. The results were used to tally the book’s ranking lists of the top 5 finishers in each religious category.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Culture wars • Education

soundoff (1,058 Responses)
  1. Archibald

    Located you web site as a result of bing I must say I m amazed together with your content!

    February 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  2. shaun

    Now do a study on what perc. Of them religious schools do drugs or get knocked up!

    August 29, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  3. L

    Man, can't make any post on this topic without it turning into a discussion about whether or not religion is responsible for all the evil in the world...

    There are two sides to this people... there have been atrocities commited by religious fanatics, but also by atheists, like the NaTsis and Bolshevics

    We would do well to just respect and love one another, religious, agnostic or atheist.

    August 24, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • alanjay1

      Thanks for the comment. It's hard to read any article that even mentions religion, because I know that the commentary below it is going to filled with hate and bile from the religious and the non-religious alike.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  4. Barry G.


    A bitter, cynical curmudgeon like Samuel Clemens (also known as Mark Twain) is hardly a noble source.

    I hope and pray that I never become as bitter as that miserable person—his literary works notwithstanding.

    I hope and pray that I will be a hopeful, optimistic, joyful person (unlike Mark Twain), and I hope that I will bring joy and hope to the lives of others.

    Didn’t Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) destroy the faith of his wife?

    And didn’t he later regret terribly what had done?

    August 24, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  5. Barry G.


    To blame all of the evil or violence of the world on religion reveals a limited, if not infantile, understanding of theology and its effects on societies.

    Admittedly there have been abuses of religion and abuses and atrocities committed in the name of religion, but this is more and indictment of the violent nature of humans than of religion.

    People since the time of Ancient Mesopotamia have attempted to establish their power and legitimacy and to justify their actions through the use of religion. This does not mean that religion, when practiced appropriately and faithfully, is evil.

    A careful examination of the history of religion (i.e., comparative religious studies) will show that violence is the inevitable result of polytheistic systems of belief (i.e., idolatry). The alternative to polytheism, of course, is monotheism.

    Violence and anxiety (fear) are the inevitable results of polytheism, not religion.

    To make such an overly simplistic statement as the one you made, and to say that religion is the cause of evil and war and violence reveals that you have a limited understanding of theology, as well as human behavior.

    I encourage you to read some of the prominent works, which examine the differences between the effects of those practicing monotheism with those who adhere to polytheistic systems of belief.


    Genesis 9:6
    “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.

    Deuteronomy 19:10
    Do this so that innocent blood will not be shed in your land, which the LORD your God is giving you as your inheritance, and so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed.

    (Genesis 6:5-8)
    The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

    August 24, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Vicky

      Religion is used as an excuse by people who want to pursue their ambition and biggotry. Its used as a mask so that others wil think that somehow theft, murder, biggotry and the extintion of other races are somehow noble acts when done in the name of a god or an ideal. True faith has nothing to do with any of this.

      September 2, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  6. Barry G.


    I suggest you go back and do your homework.

    Don't rush! Take your time, and allow yourself time for thought and contemplation of the the voluminous sources!

    You will find that there are more than "a few chapters on religion and how it was expressed in America".

    You can begin with the Colonial Period, the Pre-Colonial period, or you can even begin your study of this matter with the period of the Reformation (mid 1500's). I suggest that you begin with the Classical Period of Ancient Greece.


    August 24, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  7. Barry G.

    Dear Arilevi,

    Well said.


    August 24, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  8. analia

    Religion is a choice, Atheism is not.


    August 24, 2011 at 5:39 am |
    • Naomi

      Atheism is downright oppressive. And deadly deceitful. Americans don't know that because they have only a short history.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:48 am |
  9. Naomi

    Europeans got rational thinking from reading and studying the Bible. Westerners without Christianity are worthless.

    August 24, 2011 at 2:33 am |
  10. Reality

    As a good student, you have read the reiterations of the "fems" (flaws, errors, muck and stench) of religion. Therefore the seeds have been planted in rich soil. Go therefore and preach the truth to all nations, reiterating as you go amongst the lost, bred, born and brainwashed souls of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism as Rational Thinking makes its triumphant return all because of you!!!! 🙂

    August 24, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Vicky

      I suppose you think evolution is rational thinking. How naive.

      September 2, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  11. JamesT297

    The sooner the world can rid itself of religion and deity belief systems, the sooner we can come together in the brotherhood of mankind.

    August 23, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • tombombodil

      Wasn't this been tried in the USSR?

      August 23, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • Naomi

      @Tombom, North Korea, too, most faithfully followed the atheists' slogans and created a living hell for everyone. American atheists don't learn about the world or study history except a few quotes of Jefferson, and that one even out of the whole historical context as usual.

      August 24, 2011 at 3:15 am |
    • I_get _it

      North Korea is not atheistic - it's just that their deities are the Kims, complete with scriptures, which have the same supernatural truth as yours... none.

      August 24, 2011 at 3:30 am |
    • Naomi

      @I-get-it, that's the thing. Every atheist goes insane before the end. EVERY single one of them! But unlike others, atheists make a hell for all others. Americans are too stupid because they never learn anything in this world outside of the Jefferson's few lines. Americans were a lot smarter decades ago. What happened?

      August 24, 2011 at 4:09 am |
    • JamesT297

      Well, how do you like the landscape in Iran? Afghanistan? Mexico? 1930's Germany? It's not the presence or absence of religion that provides a moral compass. It's the presence or absence of morality. Religion or belief in a deity does not provide such an architecture. For crying our loud, the Greeks and Romans had perfectly serviceable religious schemes and dozens of gods to keep them morally straight, but I don't see any apologists here advocating for return to their methodologies.

      August 24, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • Naomi

      @James, with or without religions, humans conducted evils. Only Christianity saved the day and made the world civil.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • Vicky

      Acording to rational thinking people are only rational animals. Since when do animals have brotherhoods & PEACE & LOVE???? Animals have a code ... survival... of the fittest. This is totally contrary to brotherhood, etc.

      September 2, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  12. Naomi

    Americans became bad after they started mocking Christianity. They behave like conscience-less immoral perverts.

    August 23, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • SHRIKE

      "If there is a God, he is a malign thug." -Samuels Clemens

      August 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • JamesT297

      We mock christianity because it is so much fun, it is so easy and it is the right thing to do.

      August 23, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  13. SHRIKE

    apparantly cnn will only allow you to post some of James Madison's quotes, but not all of them

    August 23, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  14. RBN1970

    Don't drink the Koolaid – Religion favors the weak minded!

    August 23, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  15. Donovan

    The Bible was taken out of schools, but given to the inmates as they enter prison.

    August 23, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • JamesT297

      So, what is your point?

      August 23, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  16. R

    I wonder if CNN thought this was actually a picture of bennington College (its Middlebury) or if they just got lazy

    August 23, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      The picture is just a generic college activity picture, the caption clearly omits any specific name.

      August 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  17. Galtinator

    America will soon be religated to the dust-bin of history. The secularists are winning. It was nice while it lasted.

    August 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Rich

      Secularists founded this country and made it great. That doesn't mean they didn't have their various religious beliefs, but they knew that they should not limit their ideas of freedom and governance to what was in a religious text. That is what the Enlightenment was all about.

      August 23, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Thank god for the secularists!

      August 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • SHRIKE

      better a failed secular state than a successful theocratic one

      August 23, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • SHRIKE

      "History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes"

      August 23, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • SHRIKE

      That last BTW was from Thomas Jefferson

      August 23, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • JamesT297

      This thread is awesome. If the US was supposed to be a theocracy, god would have insured it. Meantime, take a look at Libya, Egypt, Syria and Tunisia if you want to learn about theocracy.

      August 23, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  18. SHRIKE

    "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise." James Madison

    August 23, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • markishere

      Good quote from an illuminati freemason cultist.

      August 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • tekstep1

      And one of our founding fathers.

      August 23, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Stevie7

      Someone's been reading a little too much Dan Brown or has been watching too much of the "History" channel

      August 23, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  19. Barry G.

    Some of the most prestigious universities in the US were started largely as preacher schools, during the nineteenth century. One of the main reasons for the establishment of these excellent schools was to train an adequate number of preachers to remedy the problem of the large and increasing numbers of people who were given to ignorance and decadence in this country.

    In 1831, the famous Alexis de Tocqueville traveled to America to study democracy and to learn what made America so great.

    Did he not conclude that what made America so great was its churches and the great preachers who preached so powerfully from the pulpits.

    In other words it wasn’t the great industry, democracy or other accomplishments, but the goodness and character that sprang from the faith of those settling in this country.

    Doesn’t the very term university mean one truth? And doesn’t this show that the whole purpose of study and learning was to be the pursuit of Truth.

    Isn’t this what Socrates, his student Plato, and his student Aristotle believe and taught?

    And wasn’t this what led to the greatness that was Ancient Greece?


    August 23, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • James

      "Truth" is meaningless in the context you're using it in. Be more specific. In truth, as far as I've been able to tell, religion and faith have lead to more bloodshed than any other force in all of human history, and are currently responsible for an unwarranted amount of pain and suffering in the world. In truth, the religious tend to persecute the non-religious or those who do not adhere to their faith (such as my ancestors whom you may know as "Indians"). Casting off the confines of the silliness of belief is what will finally free up humankind to some measure of greatness, provided of course believers don't succeed in squashing education in favor of myth, or blowing up the planet in the name of some angry invisible hominid who apparently lives in the sky.

      August 23, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Arilevi

      To James: "In truth, as far as I've been able to tell, religion and faith have lead to more bloodshed than any other force in all of human history, and are currently responsible for an unwarranted amount of pain and suffering in the world". Oft repeated, but not accurate. Economics has been the major driver for pain, suffering, war, etc. Even the Crusades were more about money and land than religion.

      August 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Economics may have been the REAL reason for the wars, but religion was used to whip up the mass support. The individuals that fought and died were not the ones that benefited economically. They died and killed for their religious beliefs. Religion is a tool to control the masses.

      August 23, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Rich

      "In 1831, the famous Alexis de Tocqueville traveled to America to study democracy and to learn what made America so great.

      Did he not conclude that what made America so great was its churches and the great preachers who preached so powerfully from the pulpits. "

      I can answer this one: No.

      While there are a few short chapters on religion and how it was expressed in America, it was not professed to be cause of American greatness. He thought religion was important, but didn't much care which one was praticed and thought it was a very good idea for the clergy to restrict themselves to religious teachings and stay away from commenting on current events and politics.

      August 23, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.