“Most American …

“Most American teens do not, by and large, abandon their identification with religious faith during the first year out [first year in college]. Religious involvement drops, to be sure, but not teens’ self-identification as a religious person…

“Teens who deposit their religious identities in a lockbox during the first year out do so because they see everyday life and religious identification as separate and distinct entities. Teens view religious faith and practice as largely irrelevant tot his stage in their life cycle.

“The religious story of most teens is the story of a thousand missed opportunities…it is striking how haphazardly most congregations go about it…they gain only sketchy and frequently mistaken understandings of what their religion believes and practices…

“When all is said and done, what most teens gain from this haphazard religious socialization is reinforcement of the theistic and moral dimensions of popular American culture: ‘There is a God; God wants me to be a nice person; and he’ll help me out if I am.’ It is a simple faith, but a surprisingly enduring one, as it can withstand long stays in an identity lockbox.”

From “The First Year Out” by Tim Clysdale


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