The Common Good
July 2005

Teens 4 God

by Claire McKeever | July 2005

Contrary to popular belief, teenagers actually do care-about religion.

Contrary to popular belief, teenagers actually do care-about religion. This arrives as hopeful news in light of contemporary Christian culture's tendency to identify youth as spiritually disillusioned. An ongoing four-year study by the National Study of Youth and Religion is looking at "the shape and influence of religion and spirituality in the lives of U.S. adolescents." It intends to identify effective practices in the moral formation of youth and quantify the effectiveness of church youth programs.

"Our research was limited to teens ages 13 to 17," Melinda Denton, co-author of Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, told Sojourners. "We are currently working on a second round of data collection where we will reinterview the teens from our original survey. This will allow us to learn more about religious change between high school and college."

  • Five to 10 percent of families experience dramatic declines in parent-child relationships during the teenage years.
  • African-American youth are less likely to be alienated from organized religion than white youth.
  • Adolescent girls are less likely to be alienated from organized religion than boys.
  • The percentage of older adolescents in the United States who appear to be hostile to organized religion does not appear to have grown (or declined) in recent decades.

Sources: Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (Oxford University Press, 2005), and "Are American Youth Alienated From Organized Religion?" (National Study of Youth and Religion, 2004).

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