Black students most religious, study says

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    By Jessica Gurnsey

    A recent University of California Los Angeles study found that black students in the United States are the most religious group among college students.

    The study measured spirituality and religiosity at public and private universities across the United States. It then compared the results based on gender and race.

    Researchers used the expertise of religious educators to help form the questions for a survey, which included more than 100,000 students from a broad range of four-year universities across the nation.

    ?Obviously it?s challenging to measure something as not easily quantifiable as spirituality,? said Jennifer Lindholm, spokeswoman for the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA.

    To combat this problem, a scale of 12 broad categories to measure spirituality was used in the study. Some of the categories included: religious commitment, struggle and skepticism, spiritual quest, religious/social conservatism and charitable involvement.

    Black students scored the highest on seven of the 12 scales. Ninety-five percent of those were also found to believe in God, while only 84 percent of Latinos, 78 percent of whites, and 65 percent of Asian Americans were found to hold this belief, the study said.

    ?My assumption is that something about African-American culture tends to celebrate spirituality,? said Richard Holzapfel, a religion professor at BYU.

    As well as race, the influence of gender on spirituality was studied by the UCLA group. Women, on average, scored higher than men in all of the 12 categories except religious skepticism.

    ?In our current culture, women tend to draw to religious activity as a way of finding themselves,? Holzapfel said. ?On the average, men tend to be distracted and try to find happiness through other means.?

    The largest gender differences occurred in charitable involvement, religious commitment and religious engagement. Women were also found to be 13 percent more likely to pray and 5 percent more likely to be on a spiritual quest.

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