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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Is Religion Becoming "In" With Teenagers?

Last night I attended the National Honor Society induction ceremony at Appleton East High School, where a large number of teenagers were being honored as new members of the Society. For each new member, a few lines were read telling something significant about the student: college plans, personal interests, etc. I was surprised at how often I heard references to religion: "volunteers with her church," "active in her church," "interested in religion," "has a strong faith," etc. Some kids that I know to be religious didn't mention religion, but it was surprising how many others did. I'm guessing 25% or more. This just seemed much different than past events of this kind that I have attended over the years. Is interest in religion more socially acceptable than it used to be among teenagers? If this is part of an actual trend, it's a welcome one.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was talking with a young Franciscan Nun recently. Her calling at this time is to be a "witness" of the Savior. She told me that colleges are seeing a surge in students participating in religious activities.

very exciting.

ltbugaf said...

Back in the early 1980s, my high school in Loveland, Colorado, had a lot of kids very open about professing their faith, and specifically their Christianity. Unfortunately, their version of Christianity tended to include vilifying Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.

NateT said...

It might be an attempt to force a place for Religious people that is arguably (at least it is perceived to be) hostile to religion.

In any case volunteer work is perceived as good and people in many areas are less shy about saying it is done in a religious structure.

Dan the Man said...

Jeff, I wouldn't be too happy with this. If it's anything like it is at my school, it's less of a profession of faith than an attempt to show off. people will carry around the Bible, wear shirts with religous sayings, etc, simply to fit in with a big crowd. There are some truly dedicated yes, but they're outweighed by those who wear the shirts and go to the meetings, then catch a ride to the nearest boozing party.

It's ridculous that these kids are trying to represent Christ this way. Yeah it's nice they're taking an interest, but it's as if you were interested in becoming a cook but only layed around the kitchen.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like someone does not fit in and is a little jeaous of those who do.
Nice display of Christian values there kid.

Ian said...

Even if it is trendy, perhaps some will truly be converted because of it.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with captain m. I knew tons of kids in high school who would profess to be Christians (wearing crosses, attending the school's "Christian club", etc.) then they would spend their weekends getting drunk and braking the law of chastity. Not to say it was a majority of the self-professed Christians, but there are many who just put on a show.

Dan the Man said...

To anon @ 7:36

I don't care about fitting in to the, as we call them "hypocrites." I do have my groups of friends, and unlike those who proclaim to be so moral and then go off drinking, they actually follow what they believe.

At my school, you can practically ask anyone who you think are the best people, and most people will answer Mormons. If you ask them why, they will respond with, "Well, they follow what they believe." There are plenty of other kids from other religions that live it the way they should, but for some reasons, they don't get singled out like we do.

Now that's something I wouldn't mind seeing at every school.




Also, how is it against Christian values to be dissapointed with people who go and proclaim they are of Christ yet live the lives of the complete opposite of his teachings? I ask these kids why, they pretty much all say they do it to fit in, and because they love hearing the Youth Minister talk about how he spent two weeks in Africa touring the sights.


And Ian, we can only hope.

Bookslinger said...

Capt M:
Every religion has hypocrites. What you said about non-lds christian hypocrite kids also applies to a lot of kids in the LDS church. It applies to a lot of us adults too.

And whether it's more prevalent in other churches than in the LDS church, it doesn't matter. So be careful about pointing the finger, when the same problem is in our church.

And if you want to debate it, I could make a good argument that hypocrisy is just as prevalent in the LDS church as any other. We're all human. And the whole spectrum of human traits is present among LDS as it is among other churches.

Some christian churches teach that sex between unmarrieds isn't adultery since neither of them are married. So I bet some of those kids don't realize it's a sin. Or if they do, they don't realize it's a serious sin.

One of the reasons I left the LDS church was the hypocrisy at several levels of the church. I had to learn that I was the bigger hypocrite and worse sinner before I came back.

Bookslinger said...

ltbugaf:
Are you still in Loveland? Do you get back there often?

I had a missionary moment there earlier this year, in March. I asked the Denver North mission to follow-up but I never heard back from the missionaries who were supposed to follow-up. So it may have gotten lost in the tracks.

I'd rather have members do the follow-up instead of missionaries, because it involves eating at a restaurant.

Do you think you could look up someone at the Stake level there, who could forward something from me to the appropriate Ward Mission Leader?

I need someone to go eat at a certain restaurant, and ask for a certain waiter, and see if he wants to talk to the missionaries.

BrianV said...

I will be in moving to the area north of denver in Three weeks, If I could be of any help let me know.

Bookslinger said...

Brian,
I'll ask Jeff if he doesn't mind being an intermediary and sending you my email address. His public email
is jeff at jefflindsay dot com. If you send him an email so he has your address, I'll ask him to reveal my email addy to you.

I'll also try following up again through the missionary system. This guy didn't specifically request missionaries, but he asked questions that missionaries answer. So I'd rather that members just go there to eat, and ask if he's still interested in finding out more.

ltbugaf said...

Bookslinger: Sorry, I now live in Virginia and don't have many connections at all in Loveland.

Joseph Antley said...

As a teenager attending a public school, many of them are "showing off", and aren't really dedicated. Of course, many aren't trying to show off, but they are probably outweighed by the ones that are. But this isn't as bad as one might think -- better to try to fit in by showing off religion than trying to fit in by partying and getting drunk.

Dan the Man said...

Bookslinger:

Of course every religion has its hypocrites. But my point is at my high school, people are pretty sure about who are and who aren't. Of course there are still hypocrites that we as members know, but other people don't, but we still love them.

The point I was trying to get at is that this trend is largely a fad, and one I doubt will last, but I hope there will continue to be those who are truly dedicated to their religions.

Anonymous said...

It might come as a surprise to you but other religions do not prohibit drinking. Your idea of morals is not universal. Perhaps you should not be so quick to judge who is sincere and who is not. You are kinda judgemental and that is what some people refer to as un-Christian.

Anonymous said...

The point I was trying to get at is that this trend is largely a fad, and one I doubt will last, but I hope there will continue to be those who are truly dedicated to their religions.------------

Isn't that what some Roman guys said a couple thousand years ago?

Dan the Man said...

Sure other religions may not prohibit drinking, but when you put on your shirts that you keep it clean all the time, you expect something a little better.

BrianV said...

I think that all christian pastors or leaders would advise against binge drinking and underage drinking. Drinking may not be prohibited, but all christians I know believe that only drinking in moderation (not to get drunk) is ok.

Bookslinger said...

Captain M:

You remind me quite a bit of myself. Hopefully, I've mellowed out some now that I'm middle aged.

With your current attitude towards others, you're going to be in for a big disappointment when you go on a mission and find that other LDS 19 year olds aren't as rigid and strict and obedient as you are.

I'm NOT telling you to be less strict or less obedient. I hope you are as obedient to the gospel as possible.

But I'm also hoping that you become more tolerant, compassionate, forgiving, and non-judgemental towards others before you go on a mission. Cuz if you don't, your mission is going to be hell (like mine was) when the other missionaries don't live up to your expectations.

It's a very difficult thing as a teenager to get along with people at a peer level when they don't subscribe to the same beliefs, or even the same level of dedication to those beliefs.

Your LDS peers in Texas may closely match your beliefs and dedication. But I can guarantee you that when you go to the MTC, and especially when you get in your assigned mission, you will find plenty of fellow missionaries who don't have the same dedication to the gospel you do. Not only that, you will find many who don't understand the gospel the same way you do. It won't be just a matter of them knowing more or less, but some will understand the same things in an entirely different light.

You will find differences so great that you will think they grew up in a different church.

So I hope you learn more about tolerating religious differences even among fellow saints, and how to maintain your own high levels of dedication and obedience, but also be respectful and loving of those who view the gospel differently, and live it differently.

It's a hard thing to do, and I was not successful at it.

Anonymous said...

The problem seems to be your expectations. Because your expectations aren't met, you decide these other students are not being sincere or are being hypocritical, when in fact, your standard is being used when others do not have the same standard. It is why some people call Mormons non-Christians. They use a standard that you might not like, but they, not unlike you here, feel quite right in applying that standard to all.
But like you said, you expect something better. Although better is a relative term and very subjective. So, it is unclear what you think is better. Maybe, no alcohol at all. In many countries drinking is part of the culture and teens take part in it. You may not agree with it, but then again, there is life outside your world.

John said...

Bookslinger,

You raise excellent points, but I think you're being a little hard on the Captain. Reading his posts, I didn't get the impression that he was elevating Mormons so much as he was disapointed with so many people not living what they preach (or wear). Emphasis on not living what THEY preach.

I'm forgiving if the good Captain sees things through a set of mormon youth's eyes, because that is exactly what he is. However, I believe his dismay focused on Christianity being reduced to a hollow series of T-shirts, jewelry, and bumper-stickers. I can't say I disagree with him.

I have the exact same problem with much of Mormon pop-culture.

Ian said...

I haven't been in Utah to mingle with the youth there or anything, but I would imagine there is some among the youth there are LDS in name only just to fit in among the cool kids. Shoot, I have seen some adults that profess to be good christians but do the opposite in their spare time.

My wifes boss was one of those bible toting praise the lord christians, and his current wife is the woman he was cheating with with is previous wife. Not only that, but he was cheating on her. I'm pretty sure that most Christians don't allow adultry. But you never know these days.

shawn said...

ANON 6:07

grrrr!

So I guess the "other religions [that] do not prohibit drinking" have no problem with breaking the laws associated with underage drinking. Nor would they have problems with sometimes horrific consequences of stupid decisions made by drunken high-school and college kid, eh?

Over 85,000 AMERICANS die every year due to alcohol related accidents and disease. "Although persons between 16 and 24 years old comprise only 20% of the total licensed population, and 20% of the total vehicle miles traveled in this country by all licensed drivers, they cause 42 percent of all fatal alcohol related crashes"*.

Whether you're Mormon, "Christian", or whatever, how you act portrays WHO you serve. Umm, regarding other religions not prohibiting drinking... WWJD? Who are you serving while drunk? Oh, and anon 10:43, lots of people die from alcohol in other countries, too.

If you wear traditional "Christian" emblems and then, like many underage drinkers, BREAK THE LAW and do stupid things while drunk, I call you hypocrite. Along the same lines, if you speed and have a big fat "LDS" sticker on your car, you're a hypocrite. Worse yet, you're ADVERTISING you're religious hypocrisy.

Yes, EVERYONE should be sensitive to other’s religious teachings, but alcohol is NOT the place to stake your position.

Sorry for the rant… geesh.

P.S. Captain M: rock on and keep the faith, my brother! :)


*From statistics complied http://www.nh-dwi.com and the N. H. Department of Safety and "Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000," Journal of the American Medical Association, March 10, 2004

Dan the Man said...

Well, it's nice to finally get some recognition.

To clear a few things up: I know what these kids believe and how they're advised. It's dissapointing when they don't live up to even their own religions standards, which are not as strict as ours.

Yeah, I have a problem with being a bit judgemental, but I'm working on it. I don't exclude myself from groups of these kids because a lot are in fact my friends, so I just express my dissapointedness. They usually agree with me.

I don't have any illusions of grandeur for my mission: I hopw that the raised bar will have helped to make a better missionary pool, but I'm not going to expect anyone to be perfect, most especially myself. I've been around Mormons who don't quite live up to it all my life, but I've always been able to get along with them. I imagine it might be even more frustrating in the mission field, but I'm prepared to deal with it.

Bookslinger said...

I can heartily say "Amen" to Elder Bednar's exhortation to become a missionary before you go on a mission.

If you know the basics of the Gospel yourself. I think witnessing to your non-LDS Christian friends is a good thing to do.

Because as friends, you can do lots of things with your friends that full-time missionaries can't. You can spend a lot of time with them. You can engage in lengthy discussions on what they believe. You can have more informal discussions.

(Full time missionaries need to be respectful of others' beliefs, but their job is to teach, not to learn all the various other creeds and individual beliefs.)

I don't think there would be anything wrong in offering to visit your friends' church if they agree to visit your church. Nor to offer to listen to what they believe if they'll listen to what you believe.

Real friends respect each others' beliefs, and seek to understand what the other believes without necessarily agreeing with it, or subscribing to it; but defending each others right to freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech.

One of the critical points in my path towards the LDS church was when my friend Henry and I were seniors in high school.

We had attended the same student-run Bible-study group as freshmen, but he kept with it, and I had dropped out of that group early in our sophomore year.

Henry had joined (long story for another time) the LDS church when he turned 18. Since we still had some basic beliefs and some spiritual experiences in common, Henry told about how he found what he called Christ's "official" church, established to prepare for the 2nd coming. And told me about a book written in gold that they used in addition to the Bible.

It wasn't until 7 years later that I got around to investigating the LDS church. But when I was at a point to go looking for a church, and was praying about what church to go to, I remembered Henry's simple matter-of-fact testimony. So I decided to check it out to see if his claims of "official church" panned out.

They did.

Anonymous said...

So I guess the "other religions [that] do not prohibit drinking" have no problem with breaking the laws associated with underage drinking. Nor would they have problems with sometimes horrific consequences of stupid decisions made by drunken high-school and college kid, eh?

What stupid wild assumptions you make. You a sophmore this year too?


Over 85,000 AMERICANS die every year due to alcohol related accidents and disease. "Although persons between 16 and 24 years old comprise only 20% of the total licensed population, and 20% of the total vehicle miles traveled in this country by all licensed drivers, they cause 42 percent of all fatal alcohol related crashes"*.

Thanks for info that means nothing to me.

Whether you're Mormon, "Christian", or whatever, how you act portrays WHO you serve. Umm, regarding other religions not prohibiting drinking... WWJD? Who are you serving while drunk? Oh, and anon 10:43, lots of people die from alcohol in other countries, too.

I always have to laugh at LDS members that know nothing about their own history. Hey, BY was known for having a great wine cellar.

If you wear traditional "Christian" emblems and then, like many underage drinkers, BREAK THE LAW and do stupid things while drunk, I call you hypocrite. Along the same lines, if you speed and have a big fat "LDS" sticker on your car, you're a hypocrite. Worse yet, you're ADVERTISING you're religious hypocrisy.

More points that no one brought up nor argued.

Yes, EVERYONE should be sensitive to other’s religious teachings, but alcohol is NOT the place to stake your position.

Sorry for the rant… geesh.

Look up your own church history of alcohol use and then you'll see how foolish you are.
and also...take a chill pill, you always so tightly wound up? Utahan?

Anonymous said...

To anon at 5:42, Please stop feeding the children. They just keep coming back and posting more silly assertions.
Trolls should just be ignored. Once they stop getting any recognition they run off to some other blog.

Anonymous said...

Getting back to the original point of the thread, I think it is interesting to note that within the past year Seventeen Magazine has added a religion column to their magazine. The new editor in chief did extensive surveys and found a significant enough religious sector to devote part of their publication to that subject on a monthly basis.

Anonymous said...

Problem with Seventeen is that it has so much info about sex and such. I don't think it apporpriate that young girls read so much about it.
Maybe some of the young readers know more about what is going on in the high schools of America.

Shawn said...

To anon at 5:42:

Jeff’s original post asked if religion may be more socially acceptable among teenagers. The thread shifted to a discussion of “show offs” and whether or not being critical of somebody who carries a bible, wears “Christian” garb, and “then catch a ride to the nearest boozing party” is too being judgmental and “un-Christian”. Especially since “other religions do not prohibit drinking”.

Whatever…

I’ll take being called “foolish” by you as a compliment. The subject of religion and alcohol was breeched. And, yes, I do know my history. (I’m much more unsettled by the Council of Nicea and paid ministries.) Setting history aside (I’m sure you, anon, would not see it as history), ever hear the one about Jesus Christ turning water into wine? Guess anything to do with alcohol is OK then?

Again, is your all-knowing anonymous opinion that Jesus would not object to teenagers wearing “Christian” garb while running around getting drunk because “other religions do not prohibit alcohol”? Would He condone their behavior even if it violated the laws of the land?

We’re talking about religious hypocrisy… about behavior and choices laced with very real consequences that fly in the face of stated beliefs. Doesn’t following Christ mean not breaking the law and doing things that many times lead devastating consequences? Life’s about choices. Nobody’s perfect. But if people want to be in a state of progression towards Christ’s example, there needs to at least be a little effort on their part, right?

If someone is going to declare themselves a “Christian”, they should at least try NOT be the example that can shatter the faith of others. The point of the statistics is alcohol and people don’t mix very well. If you (anon) can’t understand that the choices that were made by 85,000 unfortunate Americans every year is a BAD thing, more power to you. The “died/killed” percentage each year that are “Christians” aren’t really helping Christianity, now are they? I know, I know, it means nothing to you. Blah blah blah.

“…take a chill pill, you always so tightly wound up?”
Guess I was a little bent out of shape.

“Utahan?”
Nope, Virginian. In fact, I was raised Catholic... then was agnostic in college more than a decade ago. Lots of high school and college parties, lots of alcohol… not too many good memories. Well, except for those of being surrounded by opinionated people like you that believe nothing but will argue everything.

Following Anon 6:09's lead back to Jeff's original post... I hope religion is becoming more "in" with teenagers. It was a big leap for me to move away from views about religion as a manipulative political tool; to something I could actually place my hope in... :)

Dan the Man said...

Well, I guess to sum it all up is: It is a trend, no doubt about that, but whether it's productive is debatable.

Anonymous said...

are mormans allowed multiply of wife,s

Anonymous said...

Multiple wives are not allowed (not at one time, anyway).