They’re only in it for the Money

Barna did a survey of why people think you should go to college (here). Their conclusion: “Career, career, career.” Evangelicals are much more likely to do it out of avarice.

In general, religious category doesn’t mean very much, except that evangelicals are far more likely to view college as a way to “increase financial opportunities”  -- 69% vs. 55% for all Americans. But Barna biased the study in several ways.

Traditionally, college was viewed as a way to achieve a “liberal,” well-rounded education. But Barna doesn’t even include that as an option. About as close as they come was “learn about academic interests.” Atheists emphasize this more than any other religious category – 37% vs 25%. This highlights another peculiarity of Barna’s study. The overall figure of 25% is lower than any of the individual religious categories.

Barna simply ignores various religious categories, without mentioning it. For example, their definition of “practicing Christian” requires people to attend church once a month. Believers who don’t regularly attend church are ignored in the breakouts. Similarly, their definition of evangelical requires people to meet seven restrictive creedal requirements. Most (80%) self-identified evangelicals do not meet Barna’s definition, and are either omitted or lumped in with other “practicing Christians.” Barna’s practice is misleading and highly unusual.

Barna apparently thinks of college as something like a commercial program or type of apprenticeship. They are fundamentalists who think that the Bible teaches everything you really need to know. College is just gilding the secular lily. I am not sure how widespread this view is. Barna’s study was too poorly designed to tell us.