Archive for Friday, August 24, 2007

Religion vital in lives of young Americans, leads to happiness

August 24, 2007


Among America's young people, godliness contributes to happiness.

An extensive survey by The Associated Press and MTV found that people ages 13 to 24 who describe themselves as very spiritual or religious tend to be happier than those who don't.

When it comes to spirituality, American young people also are remarkably tolerant - nearly 7 in 10 say that while they follow their own religious or spiritual beliefs, others might be true as well.

On the whole, the poll found religion is a vital part of the lives of many American young people, although with significant pockets that attach little or no importance to faith.

Forty-four percent say religion and spirituality is at least very important to them, 21 percent responded it is somewhat important, 20 percent say it plays a small part in their lives and 14 percent say it doesn't play any role.

Among races, blacks are most likely to describe religion as being the single most important thing in their lives. Females are slightly more religious than males, and the South is the most religious region, the survey said.

The poll's mission was to figure out what makes young people happy. And it appears religion helps.

Eighty percent of those who call religion or spirituality the most important thing in their lives say they're happy, while 60 percent of those who say faith isn't important to them consider themselves happy.

"If you believe God is helping you, then everything else isn't as important and you can trust that there's somebody there for you no matter what," said Molly Luksik, a 21-year-old ballet dancer in Chicago and a Roman Catholic who attends Mass weekly. "Just going to church and everything ... it's very calming, and everyone is nice."

Sociologists have long drawn a connection between happiness and the sense of community inherent to most religious practice. Lisa Pearce, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, said religion can indeed contribute to happiness, but she cautioned that the converse also can hold true.

"It's easier for kids who are happy and have things going well in their life to find the time and energy to participate in religion," said Pearce, co-principal investigator for the National Study of Youth and Religion. "It could be kids who have bad experiences in church end up leaving and being unhappy with religion."

The poll also asked young people to choose between two statements about their views of other faiths.

Sixty-eight percent agree with the statement, "I follow my own religious and spiritual beliefs, but I think that other religious beliefs could be true as well." Thirty-one percent choose, "I strongly believe that my religious beliefs are true and universal, and that other religious beliefs are not right."

The latter statement is more likely to be the position of young teens - 13 to 17 - and those who attend religious services weekly.

Traci Laichter, 14, went to Jewish preschool. Her grandparents are Holocaust survivors. Her family keeps kosher and displays a mezuzah - a little box holding verses from the Torah - on the door of their suburban Las Vegas home.

Her faith is strong and she believes it will last, but that doesn't mean she thinks other faiths are devoid of truth.

"I believe whatever you believe is true to you and it really shouldn't matter what other people think," she said.


Ragingbear 10 years, 8 months ago

Yeah, because nothing says happy like being forced to attend meetings where your told that everything you do is wrong and your worthless for it, and that your ultimately responsible for the torture and death of somebody that existed 2000 years before you were born.

lamb 10 years, 8 months ago

Raging Bear, Christ gave up His life willingly so that all your sins and mine can be forgiven. That is where the happiness is, that we are loved that much.

Bubbles 10 years, 8 months ago

Let's get rid of religion like Stalin tried to do.

Tychoman 10 years, 8 months ago

Aw YWN you wrote it before I could. No fair.

Cait McKnelly 10 years, 8 months ago

I think this article says a lot about teens. It doesn't focus on Christianity, it focuses on faith and spirituality, be it Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism or Paganism. It echoes something my own father used to say many years ago, "I don't care WHAT you believe in, just BELIEVE." And these kids are remarkably tolerant as well, far more that I think there elders are.

Haiku_Cuckoo 10 years, 8 months ago

Reading some of these comments makes me realize that the bumper sticker is right, Kansas really IS as bigoted as you think

Wilbur_Nether 10 years, 8 months ago

yourworstnightmare wrote "Ignorance is bliss."

I don't know anything about that.

But, if it's true, there are a lot of truly happy people in our country.

kramdorf 10 years, 8 months ago

I would love to know when and why "tolerance" became equated with love? Why is it that as a society we have lost the ability or desire to see absolutes? Like it or not, we live in a world of absolutes. Water boils at 212 degrees; not 209, 210, or even 211! If you put your hand on a hot stove, you WILL get burned; not maybe, not every-other time, but always. Do I love you less if I try to warn you that you will get burned if you touch that hot stove? I say it is a greater expression of love to reach out and try to prevent someone from hurt than to just stand by and let them "experience" it on their own because there is "more than one path to understanding". I know there are those who have made mistakes, and for that reason many don't think us qualified to say anything, but I believe it is because of my mistakes that make me qualified. I know what hurts and what helps, and like it or not, there are some who genuinely grieve when we see others hurt. Ragingbear, your comments don't make me angry, they break my heart. I see the pain and anger in your words. I can accept all peoples without having to agree with them. But what kind of person would I be if I didn't even have enough conviction in what I believed to want to share it with others; especially if I believed that it would make the difference between life and death. I believe that young people today are sick and tired of "grey" and want to have boundries and absolutes. Hopefully this article is a reflection of this.

Confrontation 10 years, 8 months ago

"nearly 7 in 10 say that while they follow their own religious or spiritual beliefs, others might be true as well."

It's the other 3 in 10 that you have to worry about. They are the psychotic ones who would rather see you dead than belonging to another religion. They are also known as Sam Brokeback supporters.

Wilbur_Nether 10 years, 8 months ago

kramdorf wrote "we live in a world of absolutes. Water boils at 212 degrees; not 209, 210, or even 211!"

Which is true, of course.

Unless the water is impure (seawater boils at just more than 213 degrees F), or we change the pressure around the water....

Tychoman 10 years, 8 months ago

It was a joke, people. Nothing hateful or bigoted about my statement. LIGHTEN UP.

It'd be great if Uranus learned to spell. badum-CHING!

By the way, another user is engaging in suggestive names, which is against LJWorld policy. Finding_Uranus, classy. It's either a disgusting aside or you're talking about the ancient Greek god, which implies you're a pagan worshipper, therefore a friend of the devil. I doubt you're referring to the planet.

Bubbles 10 years, 8 months ago

Listen to Tycho...Gimme a break, Tycho the first poster to laugh at jokes directed towards homos.

What a phoney.

gogoplata 10 years, 8 months ago

It is so easy when you put people in a box. Many seem to like Christians in the Mindless, fearful, backward, intolerant hatemonger type box. People are individuals so the box thing doesn't work. There are Christians who are great thinkers, courageous, modern, and compassionate. The Bottom line is that Christianity is a faith founded in facts. There are good reasons to believe that it is the truth.

Tom Miller 10 years, 8 months ago

It'd be great if Uranus learned to spell. badum-CHING! try as my limited skills permit, I've not seen anything spelled incorrectly...I believe the problem is his Karma just ran over your dogma...

Tychoman 10 years, 8 months ago

Don't get me started with you today, Bubbles. I don't have a problem with spiritual people. They're just so hard to find these days. Too often, those who claim to be spiritual and religious have done little in terms of trying to actually understand their faith and how it relates to the rest of the world. I only agreed with YWN's "Ignorance is bliss" remark because I find some truth in it.

If you don't want to be classified as a "mindless, fearful, backward, intolerant" Christian, then by all means separate yourself from those who are (and there are a great number of them, especially on this forum and in this state) by thinking for yourself and realizing that there's more to being a good spiritual/religious person than spouting bible verses and attending worship.

Bubbles 10 years, 8 months ago

Yawn. Make one funny about a homo and you go off the deep end.

You are a two faced fork tongued ninny.

BrianR 10 years, 8 months ago

"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality." -- George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) The Preface to Androcles and the Lion, 1912

shockchalk 10 years, 8 months ago

The funniest part was that you frequently criticize other posters, but are hyperreactive when someone points out how ignorant your posts are..........cocaine anyone?

Tychoman 10 years, 8 months ago

Who are you referring to, shockchalk?

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 10 years, 8 months ago

"Ignorance is bliss" is not necessarily a hateful comment.

How many Christians read their Bibles on a daily basis? How many provide their children with Biblically sound advice when asked, or do they turn them back over to the TV set, or give examples from their secular workplace?

An Orthodox Rabbi in Johnson County is leaving his synagogue because of the lack of appropriate Jewish educational opportunities in the Kansas City area.

How can religion play a significant role in someone's life if they're not aware of the basic tenets of their alleged faith.

I won't speak for the writer who made the comment as to what he meant by the statement, but isn't "ignorance is bliss" a fair critique of all too many people who profess faith and yet haven't a clue about what it is they're professing?

storm 10 years, 8 months ago

I don't think religion and spirituality should be used interchangably because one can be spiritual without religion. Religion is an organized group of people with a common imaginary friend that helps them attain their goal of spirituality.

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