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. E0F0G0

    You don't have to espouse religion. But the fact is that if you even allow the words "good" and "bad" into your thinking, you are a religious person. Let's all at least concede THAT point, which is logic itself.

    August 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Pravda

      Do you think only religious people have morals and that only they can have an opinion about the merits of an action?

      August 22, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  2. Naomi

    It's stupid of the Jews to leave America anti-christian. It does not benefit Israel a bit but very harmful in a long-run. Christian-less America is a trash can.

    August 22, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  3. El Kababa

    Christians are delusional if they imagine themselves to be more 'moral' than non-Christians.

    The Christians I know and the articles I read by and about Christians suggest to me that to most Christians Christianity is nothing more than a Salvation Club. If you are a member of the Club, you go to Heaven. If you are not a member of the Club, you go to Hell. I don't see Christians as more honest, more faithful in marriage, less violent, more giving, more polite, or more anything than the millions of people who are indifferent to religion and who only go to a church if there is a wedding or a funeral.

    There's nothing bad about Christians as a group, but there is nothing good about them either. They seem to be an average group of people.

    August 22, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • EM

      Yes, some Christians are delusional if they imagine themselves to be more 'moral' than non-Christians. The thing you have wrong is that they are actually less dependent on themselves to be a follower of Christ. You see, a true Christian needs repentance and would like to walk more like Christ. They are not better morally but accepting that they need to turn away from their sin and seek salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. So actually, a true Christian is taking the first step to acknowledge they cannot be at the full image of what God would want and designed us to be. They aren't any better an an individual because in their world "All have sinned."

      As for the club, it's not a club. It's a benefit of being in union and fellowship lifting each other up. Some people seek that and others seek other desires and motives of their heart. It may feel like a club to the outsider because they don't have that same assurance or they see a certain few who are living as you say incorrectly. There are many in that "Salvation club" that you mention who are not saved or still live a life that leads to instability because of the consequences of sin. There are good Christians and some who are bad and are not indeed Christian. There are good Americans and others not so well. There are good and bad of every tongue, nation and tribe.

      August 22, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  4. ecstatist

    What would a Martian think? I have an imaginary Martian friend who has no earthly biases. I often try to explain to him the reasons for the actions and thoughts of human beings. I am seldom successful. It wants to go home. It's scared.

    August 22, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Naomi

      Don't let Earthlings find it. They will con-duct experiments on it.

      August 22, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  5. Naomi

    Americans are very evil to hate Christianity. Their nation will become a museum at this rate.

    August 22, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • se

      I feel sorry for you and your ingnorance

      August 22, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  6. Ghost

    Why isn't UC Berkeley on the top of the list... they are Communist and absolutely hate religion and religious people. They actively hate religion and religious people... without individual judgement but judgement on the whole... they are prejudice and mean.

    August 22, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • tekstep1

      Someone didn't get into Berkley...

      August 22, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Flaming Moderate Wacko

      Your religious judgmental slip is showing. I'm thinking that app to UC Berkeley was rejected.

      August 22, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Toad

      That's because the are godless libs who think they should have the right to dictate your life.

      August 22, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  7. jjdean

    Why is this any more dubious or less dubious than a sports fan allegiance. The same social qualities are applied. Does anyone going to Brigham Young or Yeshiva for that matter have any interest whatsoever in non-incestral rooting for their compulsions. This article perversly legitimates the discussion of what is merely the symptomatic result of a mental disorder. The reporting of these surveys should confine itself to those of that affliction amongst us.

    August 22, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  8. EM

    Liberty University has many more students (or should be on the list) but they don't worry about ranks which can also be good.

    August 22, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  9. mike from iowa

    okay, why would the author allude the Bennington honor of being least religious might be "dubious"? The grip of religion survives among dysnfunctional, uneducated masses. The grip tightens during periods of fear and hatred. Religion is a VERY BAD THING, the only thing that is dubious is Relgion and it's crazed followers. All Religion Divides. Religion is a form a Hatred, Segregation, Discrimination and Stupidity.

    August 22, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Fred

      There's a lot of hate in your post. The author is right, it is a dubious "honor" to be the least religious school in America.

      August 22, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Stevie7


      and there is a lot of condescension in yours

      August 22, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • E0F0G0

      Gee, Mike, your hatred of religion seems to be a very divisive thing. You sound biased, discriminatory and well, even crazed. Poor fellow!

      August 22, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  10. john carter of mars

    Was Miskatonic University on the list?

    August 22, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • HPL

      Of course not!
      There are too many human sacrifices on campus for good ol' Miskatonic U to be considered.

      August 22, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  11. Sam

    Yeah Bard! For all of our lack in even the lowest baseline acceptability for college athletics is, we still have reason.

    Well, except for...

    August 22, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  12. Michel

    What's dubious is the methodology. Survey results would have been much more useful if the students were asked about their own "religious" (whatever that actually means) behavior. Asking what you think about someone else doesn't seem too accurate to me. Makes me question the other surveys included in this study.

    August 22, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Drowlord

      Yeah, it disappointed me to read that. Asking people what other people are like is a very subjective and poor method, in my experience.

      August 22, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  13. Naomi

    American college kids need Christianity to get morality back. All non-Abrahamic religions, philosophies and ideologies make them worship self and thus filthy to the core.

    August 22, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Geezer

      Your abrahmic religions are the the true evils of this world.

      August 22, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • J.W

      The core of my self is very clean. I make sure to wash it really well in the shower every morning.

      August 22, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Hypatia

      Pompous idiot

      August 22, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Scotty

      Obviously posted by somebody who has absolutely no idea about the beliefs and practices of religious faiths not rooted in Ambrahamic tenets.

      August 22, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • mike from iowa

      Religious people are the most immoral of all people. Religious people are the first to kill, steal and hurt. Most serial killers, murders and rapists are Christians. Religion is a very bad mental disease, without religion there would be fewer starving people in the world, we would have settled Mars by now, and the abusive GOP and it's greedy banker uber-rich masters would be disempowered, as it is their veil of religion that disguises their evil, immoral and unethical nature.

      August 22, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Sam

      You seek to de-educate, not educate. Finding religion (I don't mean studying theology, which is a legit form of scholarship) takes time. Adhering to religious doctrine can distract from the skills you really need to learn. Those people who are already religious know how to manage this balancing act. Initiates might not.

      In the beginning of the 20th century, a small indigenous tribe from Peru left the jungle in search of the knowledge of the white man. They had heard about things like mathematics and other knowledge that would be as useful in the concrete jungle as herbalism is in the wooden one. So they approached the government to teach them math and literature. Instead, the government sent a bunch of Dominican friars to preach the gospel at them and discipline them if they didn't buy into, all the while spreading Old World diseases without spreading the useful information that would help the Indians avoid them. This is an extreme example of what happens when the uneducated have religion exclusively heaped upon them.

      August 22, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Fred

      You are right, Naomi.
      I see "mike from Iowa" put his two cents worth in again. EPIC FAIL, loser! Take your hate somewhere else.

      August 22, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Stevie7

      "EPIC FAIL, loser! Take your hate somewhere else."
      I heart irony

      August 22, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Cass

      I'm in a non-Ahambric religion. I volunteer weekly, give what I can of a meager salary to the poor, and work for groups that help the less fortunate. I don't see how I'm less moral of a person because I'm not one of you. In fact, it's many Christians I see parading what they do to the skies like the Pharisees Jesus warned about. It's a bit egotistic to think your group of faiths is the only one that doesn't focus on the self. Have you even bothered to study Buddhism or Paganism?

      August 22, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  14. TJeff1776

    Would anybody say that Fox News has a conservative bias ?????

    August 22, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • HDM63

      No more so than CNN , NBC , CBS , ABC , and MSNBC are left leaning.

      August 22, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Btown

      More like conservative propaganda. People who watch that crap don't seem to realize what utter nonsense it is.

      August 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  15. Armando

    Our future (referring to the photo) playing soccer, football or whatever you call it with a broom up their butt. Than we wonder why corporations outsource to foriegn countries.

    August 22, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • doughnuts

      A few kids having fun trying to play Quiddich in their spare time, and you have a hissy fit? Perhaps you should do something about the stick up your butt, and pay a little less attention to theirs.

      August 22, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Armando

      doughnuts, u do the same.

      August 22, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  16. David


    August 22, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  17. Vulpes

    In the end ... who really cares?

    August 22, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • anthonycassini

      Thomas Aquinas College is in Michigan (Grand Rapids). Fact check anyone?

      August 22, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Dan

      I "fact checked": Thomas Aquinas College
      10,000 Ojai Road, Santa Paula, California 93060
      (805) 525-4417

      August 22, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  18. BombardierBob

    Wow, I think they hit a low mark in reporting news with this worthless article toady. Who cares what colleges are religious and what ones are not. Your not going there for a degree in god so why should it matter unless your a religious nut case period.

    August 22, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • Skipper

      Do note this article is in the "religion" section and not the "news" section, moron.

      August 22, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • Margot707

      If I were looking for a college today, it certainly would mean a lot. I'd avoid a place like Brigham Young or William and Mary like the plague.

      August 22, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  19. Jon S.

    Why is this "dubious"? Yet another sign that we hardly have a "liberal" media bias in this country. On the contrary, I think the headline in this story clearly shows our country has a right-wing media bias. There is nothing wrong with emphasizing education, not religion – isn't that what those colleges are supposed to do? The others – well, they're religious schools, so of course they have a religious bias.

    August 22, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • David

      Religion is dubious... period.

      August 22, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Fred

      Nah, religion is not dubious. Your bias is showing.
      I see people on here trying to equate religion with a lack of smarts. I guess they missed the
      study, "More educated tend to be more religious" which got a write-up in the religion section on here.
      Want something dubious? Try the chemical origin of life theory. Evolution is pretty dubious. Give that a
      look if you want to read something hilarious. (They never learned that all creatures reproduce after their own
      kind. The whole "lizards turned into birds" thing is like something from a Monty Python sketch.)

      August 22, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  20. EvelynWaugh

    Utah is the most religious state in the US .. So it doesn't surprise me that the most religious school is in Utah.

    August 22, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • David

      ... and wives outnumber husbands 10-1!

      August 22, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Kik

      Actually, David, they don't. Polygamy hasn't been practiced by true members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1890, when the Manifesto was applied. Any that do practice polygamy are offshoots of the church, and not affiliated with them in any way, shape, or form.

      It's customary to think before speaking, and research before commenting. You should try it sometime.

      August 22, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Gcamacho

      @Kik, David is right. In your response you said "true members." David was not speaking about Mormons, he was speaking about the state in general. I would bet money and so would anyone that there are more wives than husbands in Utah. I don't think 10-1 would be the ratio but he had a point. Perhaps you should think before speaking. Sorry to shoot down your snarky response

      August 22, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Dave

      Actually Gcmacho, kik is 100% (ok, maybe only 99.99%) correct. KIK only made reference to LDS because .. THEY are the ones that had practiced polygamy and it's only a few offshoot remnants remaining that still practice. KIK did NOT infer that all of Utah was Mormon, so I think it is YOU that should think before responding.

      August 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • TNENG

      Polygamy has not been practiced openly in the LDS church since they decided that statehood was more important than their beliefs (which are pretty screwed up)

      August 22, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
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