In the lobby, students with Bibles gather to offer Christian testimony. On a dorm-room door, a chalkboard holds a passage from Psalms.

And in the 2,300-square-foot Catholic-run ministry center, evenings are given over to clergy-led discussions on the meaning of God and a few good-natured rounds of “Stump the Priest.”

Citing reports from students who say they are hungry for more faith-based options on campus and national surveys that show a strong interest in spirituality among college freshman, officials at Troy, Alabama’s third-largest public university, this semester opened the Newman Center residence hall, a roomy 376-bed dormitory that caters to students who want a residential experience infused with religion.

Kosher dorms, Christian fraternity houses and specialized housing based on values have become part of modern college life. But the dorm on this campus of 7,000 students is among a new wave of religious-themed housing that constitutional scholars and others say is pushing the boundaries of how much a public university can back religion.