Protestants overwhelm Catholics by the numbers
Though Biola is an interdenominational school with 33 denominations and 30 sub-denominations, a wide gap exists between the quantity of non-denominational undergraduate students and those from other sects.
The 1,753 non-denominational students constitute about 41 percent of the university’s population, while Baptists come in second at approximately 13 percent, according to an Institutional Research report. However, a starker contrast exists between Protestant and Roman Catholic students, the latter making up merely 1.4 percent of the student body.
THROUGH ONE STUDENT'S EYES
As one of the 61 Catholics students on campus, the contentious relationship between Protestants and Catholics colored senior political science major Beatriz Delgadillo’s college experience. Delgadillo said her freshman year was difficult as she met students who reacted awkwardly upon learning that she practiced Catholicism.
Misunderstandings about Catholic beliefs and students who aimed to convert her to Protestantism were common, Delgadillo said.
“Finding a way to wisely address the differences and grow closer as a body in the similarities, it takes a lot of prayer and a lot of patience. But it’s been from year to year something that I’ve grown to appreciate,” Delgadillo said.
Unlike other minority groups on campus with tight-knit groups, such as international or missionary kid students, Catholic students can be few and far between. Although there are over 50 Catholic students on campus, Delgadillo said she only knows five others.
MISCONCEPTIONS LEAD TO CLASSROOM TENSION
Outside of the student body, some professors’ attitudes towards the Catholic Church tried Delgadillo emotionally, she said. Unable to defend her faith amid her frustration with a professor’s faulty statements about Catholic Church teachings, she once left a class in the middle and cried.
“I think it was hard emotionally to go through that — to sit through classes where teachers would just bash on Catholicism and not realize I was sitting there,” Delgadillo said.
The more she became confident in her faith and was able to defend her beliefs, the difference between the two became less of an issue, Delgadillo explained. Tackling the differences and discrepancies between the two groups has been a growing experience for Delgadillo, who is interested in apologetics.
“It’s really strengthened me in what I need to know from another perspective,” she said.
DIVERSITY AMONG PROTESTANTS
Though the Protestant community is the overwhelming majority at Biola, the denominations present vary widely. Evangelical Free Church, Pentecostal, Calvary Chapel, Reformed, Lutheran, Covenant, Foursquare and Methodist are among the more common denominations of the 4,270 Protestant students on campus for the fall 2013 semester.