February 11, 2005


Survey: Religious Teens Tend to Be More Academic, Confident, Chaste (David Briggs, BeliefNet)

The most comprehensive survey ever done on faith and adolescence finds a teen nation where more than four in five youths say religion is important in their lives.

But the new survey of more than 3,000 teenagers and their parents also indicated that many teens know little about their religion.

Many other activities compete for their time, but among religiously active teens -- those who attend services weekly and belong to a youth group -- their faith appears to be making a significant difference in their behavior.

The National Study of Youth and Religion, described as the most comprehensive research ever done on faith and adolescence, revealed that such teens are more likely to:

-- Do better in school.

-- Feel better about themselves.

-- Shun alcohol, drugs and sex.

-- Care about the poor.

-- Make moral choices based on what is right rather than what would make them happy.

Researchers considered variables such as the possibility that more obedient youngsters are more likely to attend church, and still found that "religious faith and practice themselves exert significant positive, direct and indirect influences on the lives of teenagers, helping to foster healthier, more engaged adolescents who live more constructive and promising lives."

Which is why the divergence from secular Europe will grow, not shrink.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 11, 2005 11:00 AM

"more obedient youngsters are more likely to attend church".

If I were being uncharitable, I might suggest that it's not surprising that the Flock consists mostly of sheep.

Posted by: Brit at February 11, 2005 11:06 AM

That's not uncharitable at all. Those outside the flock think themselves their own shepherds. Thus their amorality and unhappiness.

Posted by: oj at February 11, 2005 11:11 AM

And were I being uncharitable, I'd suggest it's a short leap from thinking that to fancying themselves our shepherds.

Posted by: joe shropshire at February 11, 2005 11:42 AM

As we all know teenagers are far less likely to lie to pollsters than to teachers, prinicpals, cops and parents.(sarcasm intended)

If we were to merely differentiate among teens by the degree of parental watchfulness and concern with their well-being and deportment, we would discover that those whose parents care for them do better in school, have a higher opinion of themselves, are more likely to shun alcohol, drugs and sex, and care more about the poor. Frequency of religious observance is another result of parental concern not a cause of positive behavior.

If parents and kids went to a museum, concert, ball game or zoo together on Sunday or Saturday rather than to religious services, the result in children's behavior would be identical.

Posted by: Bart at February 11, 2005 11:45 AM


But the parents who do that are the religious.

Posted by: oj at February 11, 2005 12:29 PM
If parents and kids went to a museum, concert, ball game or zoo together on Sunday or Saturday rather than to religious services, the result in children's behavior would be identical.

Interesting hypothesis, Bart. Got any data?

I have to doubt that parental involvement is vital, I'd just like to know if the religious portion is a non-factor, as you appear to assert.

Posted by: Roy Jacobsen at February 11, 2005 12:32 PM


Not necessarily. I know plenty of people from non-religious backgrounds who are perfectly decent human beings. And there is no shortage of louts who make a display of their religiosity. It is presumptious in the extreme for you to make that kind of generalization.


I don't know how you would study it. But I do know from empirical, including my own, experience that parental involvement is far more important than where you dump the kids off for a few hours on a weekend.

It would seem to me that there is a significant difference between a family that goes to church together and one which dumps the kids off at services and then goes home or fishing or shopping.

Posted by: Bart at February 11, 2005 12:48 PM

and of course leftists are know for their individuality of thought (guffaw)

Posted by: cjm at February 11, 2005 1:16 PM


You too accept the generalization, just with a couple caveats.

Posted by: oj at February 11, 2005 1:24 PM

Bart, that's not empirical, that's anecdotal.

The best way to see if Bart's claims are true would be to look at only those teens who attend church without their parents.

Posted by: Timothy at February 11, 2005 1:42 PM

They had to study that to figure it out? How could it not be true? Indoctrination works, no doubt about it. (Not that I think this sort of indoctrination is necessarily bad, by the way).

Bart, teenage kids are with their parents way less than half their waking hours. Getting your kids into the right peer groups and social settings is the single most important thing a parent can ever do.

Posted by: Bret at February 11, 2005 2:09 PM