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Saturday, January 14, 2006

God, Religion ... Whatever

God, Religion ... Whatever -- Are Our Churchgoing Youth Falling Away from the Faith?

Feature by Ed Vitagliano
January 13, 2006

(AgapePress) - No Christian parent wants to hear the words "apostasy" and "my child" uttered in the same sentence, for the very thought that our children may be falling away from Christianity is -- or should be -- terrifying.

But with the stakes so high, Christian parents and church leaders must be willing to ask difficult questions. What is it that young people, who have been raised in church and self-identify as Christians, actually believe? Is it connected at all with the historic Christian faith?

Some individuals who work in the social sciences have begun asking such questions. For example, Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton, sociologists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, began with data gleaned from the largest and most detailed study of teenagers and religion ever undertaken, the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR). Smith and Denton added the results of follow-up, face-to-face interviews with more than 250 of the youth who participated in the NSYR study. The authors then distilled the results in their riveting book, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers.

What Soul Searching reveals is a generation of kids who claim to be Christian, but many of whose beliefs are not even remotely orthodox. (See earlier article.) Smith and Denton said, "Rather more subtly, Christianity is either degenerating into a pathetic version of itself or, more significantly, Christianity is actively being colonized and displaced by a quite different religious faith."

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