Okay, here's the report we did on youth and religion. Before you read it, you should know

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Okay, here's the report we did on youth and religion. Before you read it, you should know a few things: 1) We were under severe time restraints. The paper was written in a marathon writing session over a weekend. The data, however, was leisurely collected over the space of a few weeks. In short, it was a standard term paper. 2) The intended audience was our advisors, and they had some strong ideas about what the paper should have looked like (in form, not content). We had to twist their arms to allow us to do this (the gifted program is dispised anough at NP...). 3) We are not / were not statisticians. We are examining only 'obvious' trends; we didn't have any agenda. (How could an atheist and a Mennonite have a common agenda on this!?) 4) Looking at this paper, I feel like a moron. I'm ashamed enough of it, don't rub it in... Remember, I was a junior in high school... I found the raw data, but it is currently in AppleWorks DB format. I don't have access to anything which will put it in a vanilla text file -- if anyone does, please let me know, and I'll send it to you. I have the questonairre, but when I looked at it, I remembered that we didn't give that one out. It was manually typed out on a typewriter, but asked most of the same questions (the essay question was a bit different). I'll talk to my friend (who is now at Franklin and Marshall) about it when he comes down here on Friday. Ed [begin here...] Austin Fairfield/Ed Watkeys Gifted Resource 1.2 Mr. Arnholt/Dr. Myers May 7, 1990 Youth and Religion in 1990 In a study of three hundred and fifty-four students attending North Penn High School, a questionnaire was administered to ascertain the religious beliefs of the student body. These questions will be addressed in the following paragraphs: What is the relationship between the religious beliefs of students and that of their parents? When there is a difference between the religions of a student's parents, which parent exerts a greater influence over the beliefs of their children? What are the most common religions of the students tested? What religions seem to lose the most members to atheism, agnosticism, or religious indifference? Have the students in the study had any religious questions or doubts? Is there any correlation between intelligence and religious belief? It was hypothesized that religious indifference would be prevalent in members of all faiths. Personal experience of the authors suggests that the pressures of living in the modern world would make it difficult to sustain a strong faith. This society, with its emphasis on conformity and materialism, would tend to create shallow and superficial personalities. Today's adolescents were thought incapable of entertaining deep beliefs, religious or otherwise. * * * Of the students questioned, twelve had stronger religious feelings than their mother, and thirty-five had stronger feelings than their father. There were sixteen who had stronger feelings than both of their parents. Two hundred and ninety students had feelings that were weaker than those of their parents. There was a pronounced trend in the difference of the strength of religious feelings of mothers, fathers and students. Mothers possessed a greater level of faith than fathers. Fathers, in turn, had a higher level of faith than students (see graph). Pastor Studer of Plains Mennonite Church felt that weak religious feelings are to be expected in youth. However, he said, this often changes when young adults marry or have their first child. Studer believed that this new responsibility compels people to give thought to God. The demands of adulthood spur a renewed interest in religion. When the religion of the parents differed, the mother had a more profound influence over the religion of the children than the father. Twenty-four students followed their father's religion, while forty-seven followed the religion of their mother. Dr. Mindrebo, principal of Calvary Baptist, was saddened by this fact; he felt that it is the father's duty to lead the family in it's spiritual life. He said that in many cases, wives are forced to lead the family in religion because the father is unwilling to take such a role. Of the students questioned,the Roman Catholic Church had the most members (eighty-seven). Forty students reported their religion as being "Lutheran Church in America", making it the second most common church. On the questionnaire, thirty-nine students reported their religion as "Christian Church". While the Christian Church was meant as a specific denomination, most of those answering were probably confused by the term, thinking that it meant simply being Christian in general. So while "Christian Church" received the third highest number of members, it was discounted. Twenty-four students reported themselves as atheists. These four most common beliefs were followed by Judaism (eighteen members);the Presbyterian Church, agnosticism, and people who had no preference (all of which had seventeen members); the Baptist Church (sixteen members); Hinduism (eleven members); the United Methodist Church (eleven members); and the Methodist Church (ten members). These are the top twelve religions reported by the survey. There were five religions which lost a significant number of their teen-aged members to atheism, agnosticism, or religious apathy: Judaism lost the greatest percentage, with 27.8%, followed by the United Methodist Church (27.2%), the Methodist Church (20.0%), the Lutheran Church (17.5%) and the Roman Catholic Church (14.9%). All other religions were either too small to be counted or lost no members. Both Dr. Mindrebo and Pastor Studer felt that doubt is essential to producing a religious faith strong enough to last all of one's life. They both felt that this questioning begins in adolescence; Dr. Mindrebo suggested that doubting may start in the later elementary school years but could possibly occur later, even in high school. Pastor Studer believed that questioning begins in junior high or high school. He went on to say that to him, a person who has not had doubts about their religion does not really belong to that religion. "All of their ideas are borrowed," he said. No faith that is untested can be of great value. Pastor Studer and Dr. Mindrebo each thought that by the time most students reach high school, they would have given some thought as to the validity of their religion's teachings. In the study, there were clear lines between those who had questioned the religious faith of their childhoods and those who had not. Some people listed their religion as the same as their parents', listed their strength of religious feeling as the same as their parents', and, in the space on the questionnaire for writing about doubts, scratched "NO" in large letters. But many people indicated that their strength of religious feeling was less than that of their parents or expressed the fact that they had or were experiencing doubts about what they had been taught. The results of the survey show that slightly less than half of the students have questioned their religion. This would indicate that religious apathy is more prevalent than either Dr. Mindrebo or Pastor Studer had believed. Overall, there were only two trends the related religion to intelligence. There were no Jews in 1.0 level classes, but there were fifty percent in the gifted program. The percentage of Jews increased linearly with the difficulty of the courses. The opposite was true of Catholics. Generally, there was a higher percentage of Catholics in lower-level classes. This may be due to many things, including economic background and attitude of parents. In addition to these two trends, there were some interesting facts regarding atheism, agnosticism and being gifted. Of twenty-four atheists, ten were gifted, and of seventeen agnostics, six were also gifted. This does not seem significant until it is realized that there were only eighty-seven gifted students questioned out of three hundred and fifty-four total. The results of the survey bear out the hypothesis that most youth give little thought to matters such as religion. Many of the students belong to their religion in name only; they do not bother to consider the implications of what they believe. However, there was a sizable group of students who did indicate that they had thought about religion, who were not going through the motions of religion merely to please their parents. Perhaps the number of those who think seriously about religion will increase as students graduate, are thrust into the real world, and discover that they need to develop their own beliefs. Works Cited Berkhart, R. Understanding Youth. New York: Abingdon Press, 1938. Funk. Personal interview. May 3,1990. Hadden, Jeffrey K. Religion in Radical Transition. New York: Transaction, Inc., 1971. Hardon, John A. Christianity in the Twentieth Century. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1971. Jeeves, Malcolm A. Psychology and Christianity; the View Both Ways. Downer's Grove, Il: InterVarsity Press, 1976. Mead, Margaret. Culture and Commitment. New York: Doubleday Anchor Press, 1979. Mindrebo. Personal interview. May 4, 1990. Ross, Murray. Religious Beliefs of Youth. New York: Association Press, 1950. Studer. Personal interview. May 4, 1990. --------- Ed Watkeys "...the peace symbol is actually an an- phlpa!caligula!edw@cs.widener.edu cient Druidic symbol which means 'de- Programmer, Athiest, Cynic feat Christianity.'" -- P. Hoefflinger Distant Software/Drexel University ------CYNICAL QUOTE OF THE WEEK-------

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