A Conservative Swing

April 2, 1999

Those predicting a conservative swing in America need look no further than the current crop of college freshmen who are less apt to drink beer, engage in casual sex, or support legalized abortion. The latest survey of a quarter-million students provides a snapshot of the attitudes of those described as the tail-end of Generation X. Many believe they represent a sea change toward more conservative views.

Beer drinking among freshmen is the lowest in the 33-year history of The American Freshman survey. Slightly more than half of all students say they drink beer, compared with a high of 71% in 1981. Consumption of wine and liquor is also down, but there is evidence that binge drinking is up.

Freshman support for keeping abortion legal declined for the sixth straight year. A spokeswoman for Collegians Activated to Liberate Life said that "As students become more aware of what abortion is, they know it's not about freedom of choice but about one person's right to live." By the way, this college-based pro-life group has seen it campus affiliates increase from 23 to more than 300.

Support for casual sex is also down. A record low of 39% of freshmen agreed with the phrase, "If two people really like each other, it's all right for them to have sex even if they've known each other for a very short time." Although some have tried to merely tie this trend to a fear of AIDS, there is growing evidence that the trend is a true reaction to casual sex.

How these trends will impact the 21st century is still uncertain, but it does demonstrate a shift from the 60's attitudes of many baby boomers. A generation weaned during the Reagan era and reaching adolescence during the Clinton years appears to be turning conservative.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.