Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers

By Christian Smith; Melinda Lundquist Denton | Go to book overview

Appendix A. Race, Class, Gender, Etcetera

Demographic Differences in U.S. Teenage Religiosity

The primary analytical approach we use in this book to examine NSYR survey data on U.S. teenage religion and spirituality has been to separate out teens into the six major U.S. religious traditions of conservative, mainline, and black Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, and Mormonism, and the category nonreligious. A second analytical approach we employ to categorize teenage religiosity is the four ideal religious types used to explore teenage outcomes described in chapter 7. We think these categories provide an illuminating comparative perspective on adolescent religious differences in the United States today. However, these are not the only ways one might view variance in teenage religion. A more standard sociological approach to making sense of distinctions in people's lives is to examine differences associated with what are thought of as key demographic characteristics. What some call the “holy trinity” of these sociological variables are race, social class, and gender. We briefly examine teen religious difference in light of these demographic distinctions in this appendix. In addition, we consider how adolescent religion may differ by age of teen, structure of teen's family, ruralurban residence, regional location, and supply of religious congregations per county. During the process of writing this book, we received many inquiries about how such demographic variables distinguished religious outcomes, indicating an apparent demand for such demographic analyses of the teen religion data. Any book aspiring to present a general overview of the results of such an inclusive study of national teen religiosity, yet lacking an analysis using these kinds of demographic variables, would be incomplete. Therefore, here we examine bivariate relationships in cross-tabulations between the demographic and religiosity variables. Then we enter all of the demographic variables examined in this ap272

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