Bibles Replacing Beer On College Campuses


You don't have to look far to see why the University of Wisconsin makes the Top 10 list of party schools year after year, CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports. A trip down popular State Street says it all.

But these days, another kind of bingeing is catching on, one that is less about beer and more about the Bible.

Rae Gillen used to follow the party crowd. Now she leads prayer groups in the dorm. She made the change after breaking up with a boyfriend two years ago.

"It was just probably the most difficult time of my life that I've ever had, just really sad all the time, really depressed. And didn't really know how to fix it," Gillen says.

She found her fix in Campus Crusade for Christ, a student organization whose services resemble a kind of college party for God. Their membership at Wisconsin has tripled in the last five years.

An interview with Tony Arnold, leader of the Campus Crusade for Christ.
That mix of higher education and a higher power isn't unique to Madison. Campus Crusade for Christ says it has expanded to 1,200 campuses, and has seen its membership almost double during the last decade.

UCLA researchers found the vast majority of students entering college say they're on a spiritual quest. Nearly 80 percent say they believe in God, nearly 70 percent pray, and they're looking for a new way to explore faith, outside of the traditional church.

A half-dozen college ministries are spending millions to build private, religiously themed dorms close to campus like one in Madison that has an underground passage to the Presbyterian church next door.

"Students will be able to come right underneath and come up and worship in their pajamas if they want," says Pastor Mark Eldson.

What Gillen really wanted was a sense of belonging and a deeper connection.

"People who desired to really know me and not just me as the person who was crazy enough to do something that, after a few beers I was willing to do," Gillen says.

It's not that today's students are giving up the party in favor of prayer. But when the party's over, some search for more than just a ride home.