On Wednesday (6 June) I sent out a press release (about belief among Dublin students) to the Irish news media outlets. I made sure my mobile number was at the top of the page. Then I sat for a couple of days waiting for the calls. But the mobile fell eerily quiet.
Maybe one reason was that the Irish Times this week had just published a national poll of belief, interviewing 1000 people in 100 sampling points! And they had things to say. For example, they said that to really be a Catholic or an Anglican, you just have to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. I wish it worked out that way, especially among students.
Our experience with student life is well reflected in the comment made recently by Breda O’Brien: “I teach young people. They are great young people, but many of them are closer to benign agnostics with a bit of holy water thrown over them than Christians. So many of them have never really encountered the Christian message. So many of them are searching for meaning.” (Breda O’Brien The Irish church I love is falling apart in Irish Times May 5, 2012)
Agapé’s survey results will eventually be unveiled at the Open House event in UCD Blackrock on Wednesday 13th June. The survey was conducted in 50 face to face interviews of both male and female students who study a range of academic disciplines. In the meantime, if you’re dying to read that press release that hasn’t yet seen the light of day, here it is:
A survey of Dublin students has shown that over half of them have some concept of God, 60% said that if it were possible they would want to know God in a personal way. Forty-six percent consider Jesus to be just a man.
The question students were least equipped to answer was, “What was Jesus teaching?” Only with great difficulty could they come up with anything taught by Jesus. Most of them thought he would have taught what they themselves admire.
The survey was carried out in April and May by Agapé, a national Christian movement for students.
David Wilson, director of Agapé, said, “Students need to get their hands on the relevant hard facts about Christian faith. They are more open to think, and have more time to do so, than they will in the next 40 years.”