The number of students claiming a Church of Christ affiliation has been decreasing as ACU’s student body continues to become more religiously diverse.
According to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, the percentage of students with a Church of Christ affiliation this year is 45.6 percent, a decrease from 2008 when it was 57.9 percent.
As the percentage of students with a Church of Christ affiliation has decreased, the percentage of students that go to Community Churches and students categorized as “Other” have both shown a significant increase.
Community Church students have increased from 8.7 percent in 2008 to 12.4 percent this year while students filed under “Other” have gone from 9.8 percent in 2008 to 16.3 percent.
“ACU is an attractive, strong, Christian university and anyone under the moniker of Christianity can see it as a strong, viable option for a good, strong, Christian education,” said Byron Martin, the director of student multicultural enrichment and support.
Martin said the increase in diversity in the student body is a positive trend.
“It gives them the opportunity to engage in great conversations with people from various backgrounds,” Martin said. “It also gives our students from different religious backgrounds an opportunity to experience a religious heritage that most of them may not have heard of before.”
Dr. Jean-Noel Thompson, vice president for Student Life and dean of students, also said the increasing religious diversity in the student body will be a positive experience.
“I think as we equip students for the world they’re going to enter, which consists of a number of different faith traditions. This exposure for students to interact with, be in unity with, and discuss difference in a civil way, is about equipping students to be young adult professionals and ready for a world that is very diverse even religiously,” said Thompson, “So I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s a fantastic learning experience not only for our students, but also for our faculty and our staff.”
Thompson said the increase in religious diversity is partly due to ACU’s marketing, which he said has broadened “unlike decades ago when ACU didn’t really advertise outside of the Church of Christ.”
Along with marketing, Thompson said another contributing factor to the decrease in Church of Christ students is there has been a decrease in the number of families claiming the Church of Christ doctrine.
Thompson and Martin both believe ACU’s student body will continue to diversify in the coming years.
“ACU welcomes the broader range of diversity,” Thompson said. “Yet we do that with the hope that all of our students, regardless of religious affiliation, will pursue a Christ centered life.”