Friday, March 20, 2009

Religion among poor teens

Here's a summary of a recent article about the role of religion among poor teens. It turns out that they have active, but disaffiliated religious lives...

"Poverty not only affects American teenagers’ self-esteem, educational achievements, and life chances, but it also influences their faith, according to Philip Schwadel (Sociology of Religion, Summer 2008). Poor adolescents differ from their non-poor counterparts in religious beliefs and practices.

Using data from the National Study of Youth and Religion, Schwadel finds poor teens are more likely to have active, but private, religious lives and they’re much less likely to participate in institutional religion. Moreover, poor teens are more likely to see their faith as important to their daily lives, but its salience comes from personal prayer and scripture reading, rather than attending services, Sunday school, or youth group activities. Finally, poor teens are less likely than non-poor teens to believe in life after death, but are significantly more likely to believe there will be a judgment day for God to reward and punish.

Religious faith can help teens through their confusing adolescent years, and whether or not they live in poverty seems to help explain what that religious experience will look like."

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