Public Release: 

American youth: religion is an important part of life

University of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA - An overwhelming majority of American youth believe religion is an important part of life.

Eighty-six percent of Americans aged 11 to 18 believe that religion is an important part of their lives, according to a national survey of 2,004 randomly selected households done in 2000 by the University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Work.

Researchers Ram Cnaan and Richard Gelles say that new-millennium American youth are very much like previous generations, despite some people's views that today's youth are less religious than previous generations.

"This is the most reliable estimate of religious behavior of teenagers in America," Gelles said. "Teenagers are enormously stereotyped; yet , there are very little data on their actual religious habits."

Sixty-seven percent of youth interviewed in the Penn survey said they attended a place of worship in the past month, and 42 percent said they belong to social programs or social groups within their congregations.

The survey also found that the parent's education level plays a significant role in determining young people's view of religion. The more educated parents are, the more likely they are to want to provide positive influences in their children's lives, Cnaan said.

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