While Alone Many Teens Pray and Read Bible


Brett Cain

*A recent poll of American teen-agers dispels the notion that teens usually go through the motions of worship and religious study only in response to parental pressure, according to the Princeton Religion Research Center. *”To the contrary, many teens do not confine their religious practices to formal worship or religious instruction sessions but also when they are alone will pray or read the Bible, at least occasionally,” said a report in the October issue of Emerging Trends, the center’s publication. *The study also cites widespread belief among teens in the divinity of Jesus and in a God who loves them.

*Students doing above-average work were more likely to pray and read the Bible than their less-achieving counterparts.

*Praying alone is practiced by three out of four teens–42 percent on a frequent basis, according to the study. And 44 percent of teens read the Bible in private–13 percent on a regular basis.

*The report, based on a survey conducted by the Gallup Organization, with which the center is affiliated, says young women are more likely than young men to pray or read the Bible privately. Protestant teens are more likely to engage in those activities than Catholics, as are teens who live in the South and Midwest.

*About 83 percent of teen-agers living in the South say they pray when alone, and 55 percent say they read the Bible by themselves. Figures for prayer and Bible reading in other parts of the country are, respectively,
74 percent and 51 percent in the Midwest; 67 and 31 percent, East; and 68 and 45 percent, West.

*Among Protestant youth, 80 percent say they pray privately, and 52 percent read the Bible. Among Catholics, 71 percent pray and 34 percent read the Bible.

*”The great majority of teens say they believe God loves them, and a surprisingly high number report they have experienced the presence of God,” the report says.

*A large majority of teen-agers, 86 percent, say they believe in the divinity of Jesus–that he is either God or the son of God. *The survey, which included telephone interviews with 513 teen-agers 13 through 17, showed that 95 percent believe in God or a universal spirit and that 93 percent believe God loves them.

*Just 2 percent said they believe there is no God or that, if there is a God, they are not loved by God.

*Belief in a loving God decreases slightly as teens grow older, with 96 percent of teens under 16 professing such a belief, compared to 88 percent of teens 16 or 17 years old.

*About 29 percent of teens report that they have personally experienced the presence of God while 67 percent deny having such an experience. *Among Protestant teens, 41 percent say they have experienced the presence of God, compared to 27 percent of Catholic youth.

*The percentage of those reporting such an experience rises slightly with age–from 27 percent among teens 15 and under to 32 percent among teens 16 or 17.

(The above material appeared in a November 5,1991 issue of RNS Daily News Reports.)

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