Tennessee is sometimes referred to as the “buckle of the Bible Belt,” an informal group of about 10 states in the mid- and southeastern United States. And with good reason. More than half of Tennesseans consider themselves religious and nearly three quarters attend religious services with some regularity. The religious population is predominantly Evangelical and Protestant, with just under a third being Baptist. Other major mainline denominations include Methodists and Presbyterians. Many Protestant denominations have established their flagship colleges or schools in Tennessee while the Methodist and Baptist churches both have large publishing houses in Nashville.
Keeping track of the denominations: how they spread, broke apart, and rejoined to their current status can be confusing. Terminology, such as whether they consider themselves to be evangelical, Pentecostal, charismatic, Calvinist, or liberal is just as perplexing. Even to those who go to church. Nevertheless, people can be passionate about their beliefs or worship style but you do not have to agree with them. Simply be respectful and do not argue. Express what you are comfortable with. Tennessee has very few Catholics, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, or those of other faiths. However, you are still likely to meet some of these people here as well.
On the rise around the country, and even in Tennessee, is the number of people who do not identify with any particular religion. They may consider themselves spiritual seekers but haven’t settled on a belief system. If this is you, there are several good reasons to consider any one of the religiously affiliated schools in Tennessee. The faculty and staff are sympathetic to students seeking a spiritual home and dedicated to creating a safe place, physically and academically, for students to learn. As a student, you will likely find some level of biblical literacy and moral living required but no particular profession of faith. As well, your like-minded classmates may or may not share your beliefs but are open to thinking through the issues with you. Generally these types of schools are privately funded. Therefore, they have more latitude to consider education as a holistic enterprise rather than job preparation only. Many religious schools have good reputations as being academically rigorous. You can be confident that you have received an honest and well-respected degree.