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The Unlikely Disciple

An Ivy Leaguer spends a semester undercover at a fundamentalist Christian university – and is surprised by what he discovers.

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It took blinding light and God’s voice to convert the Apostle Paul. But it required only 16 weeks at a fundamentalist Christian university to change an Ivy Leaguer from Brown.

Not that Kevin Roose, a self-described agnostic, ever lost that fish-out-of-water feeling at Liberty University in Lynchburg Va., where the living is clean – cussing and kissing results in swift and severe fines – and students spend spring break in Daytona saving souls.

The focus there is always on God, who is, after all, the most-often-listed interest on the school’s Facebook page.

Fundamentalist Christians in America have always set themselves apart, and in so doing have piqued the nation’s interest. So in the winter of 2007 Roose, then a sophomore at Brown University, opted out of the more traditional semester-abroad options. Instead, he enrolled as a transfer student at Liberty in an undercover effort to discern what makes these deeply religious students tick.

His mission was to dissect – not depart a forever-changed man.

Thankfully, what results in The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University, is a little bit of both.

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