THE University of Chicago has shown Itself in so many instances to possess a spirit unusually broad and liberal for an institution so young, that the announcement of compulsory attendance at chapel prayers there is hardly consistent with the professed policy, of the university or in accordance with the growing sentiment among other colleges. At Yale the feeling that prayers should be voluntary is becoming stronger each year and doubtless it will not be long before she follows the example which Harvard set some half dozen years ago and have prayers voluntary to students. With us the abolishment of compulsory attendance has met with results far exceeding the expectations even of those who favored the movement. Naturally, under the conditions here, the number of students drawn to morning prayers depends upon the popularity and sincerity of the officiating clergyman, but there have been few instances in the past six years when Appleton Chapel has not been filled with an encouraging proportion of students. There is no doubt that the students will attend prayers more willingly and earnestly when they are offered them and not thrust upon them. Still further, the influence of religion loses its force on men when they are compelled, whether they will or no, to hear it preached to them. The successful way to draw college men to thoughts of religion is to attract them to religious services, not force them there. The system has succeeded with us, and it would have been better spirited for the University of Chicago to have inaugurated it with the student body there. The daily paper of the university has expressed these same opinions, and it is to be regretted for the general welfare of liberality in all colleges that, while this fact is recognized by the undergraduates, it is not by the university authorities.
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May 06, 2017