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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.


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.


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.


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.

Your Turn.  Post a Comment

  1. Josh Kristianto

    Well...I guess it shouldn't be too surprising that there are a lot more Protestants at Biola than Catholics, right?

    I'm actually shocked that there are more than 5 registered Catholics at Biola. 61?! That's pretty surprising considering the open nature of Biola's very strong commitment to biblically-based evangelical Protestant Christianity. That's like me as a Protestant going to the Vatican to learn theology; it's just going to strongly conflict with what you believe no matter what.

    It also shouldn't be surprising that Biola students were trying to convert Delgadillo to Protestantism. Catholics and Protestants have similar beliefs, but they both contrast in very, very, VERY important areas, most profoundly in soteriology, or the doctrine of salvation. The disagreement in that doctrine alone is enough to call Catholicism a different religion, I'd say, which is why students here may be acting the way they do towards Catholic Biola students.

    I'm actually going to interview a Catholic priest on my radio show on The Torch about Catholicism and its tenants, if anyone is interested. I just had to throw that in there, I'm sorry Chimes. But I freelance for you guys anyways, for free too! I might as well plug something in here. Good job, Anna Frost, on the article; I'll reference it during the show if you don't mind. November 14, 2013

  2. allesiaJarp

    March 21, 2014

  3. Arnie

    I'm surprised Beatriz didn't try to convert Protestants to Catholicism. Secondly, I can see her attraction to Biola. Her desire for a spiritual and purity of heart environment is very attractive if you're trying to grow in holiness. In terms of Catholics, they can utilize as a resource and she can counter with All things said, let us love one another and pray for God's mercy and forgiveness for our ongoing division because Christ truly wants us all to be as one as He and the Father are one. March 22, 2014

  4. Leonardo

    I am also a Catholic who had the pleasure of going to a conservative Evangelical school. I can sympathize with Beatriz' experience. I am glad to hear that there are any Catholics at all at Biola. Are there only Catholics in their undergraduate programs? When reading the admissions requirements for their M.A. in Science and Religion, it said that potential students "must" be "Evangelical." I will be sad, though not at all surprised, if Biola's graduate programs do exclude Catholics. Lord, have mercy. June 27, 2017

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