Monday, 24 March 2008

new generations and religious belief

Some recent studies have given interesting insights into the impact of religious belief on younger Australians.

One study by the Australian Catholic and Monash universities found the following beliefs among Aussie teenagers (aged 13 to 17):

  • 47% said they were Christians, although only 17% were active in their faith,
  • 31% had no religious belief,
  • 15% had new age beliefs, and
  • 7% had other beliefs.

The same study also found that "those with serious spiritual and religious beliefs were likely to donate more money, participate more in their communities and be more concerned about their society than their non-religious counterparts."

The press release for the study says: "Noting that strong engagement with a belief system is related to good citizenship, the authors pose the question: where will young people of the future learn civic values and a commitment to the common good? Who, apart from parents, is going to pass these values on to them and lead them to participate in community service?"

A University of Queensland study has found that only 8% of young adults attend church weekly. Among young adults, "Moving away from traditional religious beliefs to trendy, self-focused religions and spirituality is not making young adults happier."

Causes of lower happiness include greater risk of poor mental health and anti-social behaviour, and higher levels of anxiety and depression. "Their focus on self-fulfillment and self-improvement and the lack of emphasis on others' wellbeing appears to have the potential to undermine a person's mental health and social relationships.”

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