Departmental Papers (SPP)

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Journal Article

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Using the secularization theory and the Marxist notion of religion as masking class conscience one would expect the importance of religion and religious involvement today to wane and be limited to lower class members. To challenge this expectation, using a representative national telephone survey of 2004 youth (ages 11–18) and their parents, we attempt to answer the following two questions: How religious are teenagers, and what may explain variation in religious perception and involvement among teens. Findings suggest that religion remains perceived as very important by most teenagers and parents report that about two-thirds of teenagers attended a place of worship at least monthly and that two out of five attended a social group sponsored by a religious organization. These findings do not support the secularization theory. As expected, parental attendance of religious worship, teen’s age, and teen’s ethnicity and gender were significantly associated with three variables of religious behavior and attendance. In contrast to the Marxist notion of religion, measures of socio-economic status indicate that, in the contemporary United States, religious participation, but not beliefs, is largely the domain of the middle-upper classes.


Postprint version. Published in Social Indicators Research, Volume 68, number 2, 2004, pages 175-200.
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Date Posted: 09 November 2006

This document has been peer reviewed.