Religion and teen drug use

A new study by BYU researchers finds that religious involvement cuts teen marijuana use in half:

Now a new national study by two Brigham Young University sociologists finds that religious involvement makes teens half as likely to use marijuana.

The study – which will be published October 13 in the Journal of Drug Issues – settles a question scholars have disagreed on in the past.

"Some may think this is an obvious finding, but research and expert opinion on this issue have not been consistent," said BYU sociology professor Stephen Bahr and an author on the study. "After we accounted for family and peer characteristics, and regardless of denomination, there was an independent effect that those who were religious were less likely to do drugs, even when their friends were users."

The study, co-authored by BYU sociologist John Hoffmann, also found individual religiosity buffered peer pressure for cigarette smoking and heavy drinking.

The term religiosity as used in the study has to do with people's participation in a religion and not the particular denomination. Hoffmann said the protective effect of church and spirituality supplements the influence of parents.

. . .

Two data sets were used in the study, 13,534 students who participated in the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health and 4,983 adolescents in a state-wide survey of Utah schools. Individual religiosity was measured by two questions: one asked the students how frequently they attended church and the other asked the students to rate the importance of religion to them.

"The power of peers is less among youths who are religious," Bahr said. "Meaning if you are religious, the pressure from peers to use drugs will not have as much effect."

However, researchers found that religiosity didn’t have the same effect on use of illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Professor Bahr gave his insight as to why:

"There are pretty strong social norms against illicit drugs throughout society," Bahr said. "So even if you aren't religious, you receive many messages against illicit drugs. But that may be less so for drinking, smoking and even using marijuana, which tend to be strongly opposed by many religious groups."

Another result showed that the religiosity within the community as a whole does not play as big a role as formerly thought by researchers.

"Previously, it was thought that if someone grew up in a religious community and went to church, then the community’s religious strength would make a difference,” Bahr said. “We basically found that this was not the case. Individual religiosity is what makes the difference."

Read it all here.

What does your church do about teen substance abuse? Does it work?

Why do so many evangelical teen-agers become pregnant?

This month's New Yorker has an article on the relatively high rate pregnancy amongst the teens of evangelicals.

Thanks for the pointer to Tyler Cowen who asks us to consider two points:

The first question is whether they do, adjusting for all the proper demographics. Second, I wonder if there isn't also a combined lifecycle/genetic effect. Maybe if you're rowdy when you're young, you're religious when you're old, but the kids that pop out are on average rowdy too.
Cowen highlights this quote:
Bearman and Brückner have also identified a peculiar dilemma: in some schools, if too many teens pledge, the effort basically collapses. Pledgers apparently gather strength from the sense that they are an embattled minority; once their numbers exceed thirty per cent, and proclaimed chastity becomes the norm, that special identity is lost.
My emphasis.

Purity pledges ineffective

A new study released today shows teens who make purity pledges are 10% more likely to engage in unprotected sex. The Washington Post reports:

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Naked and you clothed me

Episcope has a full round-up of the mainstream media's coverage of yesterday's National Prayer Service, which we covered here. But the work of the Church isn't all about blessings presidents and squabbling about sexual ethics. Sometimes it is about helping a Jewish girl collect prom dresses. That's right, prom dresses.

Have a look at this item from Mobile, Alabama, about a Jewish girl working with an Episcopal Church to help collect prom dresses for girls who can't afford to buy them.

Episcopal school students celebrate Terkel's legacy

Erin Donaghue in the suburban Maryland Gazette papers:

Now in its 12th year, the American Century Project at St. Andrew's [Episcopal School in Potomac. Md.] was launched by history teacher Glenn Whitman, who was inspired by his own work collecting oral history as an undergraduate and also the work of legendary broadcaster and oral historian Louis "Studs" Terkel. Through the project, Whitman hopes to encourage students to become recorders of history, rather than just its observers. "The best interviews are those whose voices are uncovered by this project," Whitman said.

St. Andrews has collected the largest pre-collegiate oral history archive in the United States through the work of its students, and according to Whitman, that goes to show that students can make a meaningful contribution to history.

Read it all. The proud Dad moment is at the end.

Pop goes the sermon

Michael Paulson in The Boston Globe:

The first sign that this is not an ordinary worship service is the pair of toasters on the chancel of the oak-paneled chapel.

Teenagers are seated in pews, eating bowls of corn flakes and raisin bran.

And, at the base of the pulpit, there is a small black iPod - not a choir member or a hymnal in sight.

It's iSermon Sunday at Cochran Chapel, and the Rev. Anne E. Gardner, the new director of spiritual and religious life here at Phillips Academy, is fiddling with her laptop.

In one example of how clergy are attempting to use technology and popular culture to reach out to the young, Gardner is constructing a monthly sermon using songs from the iPods of her students, rather than biblical excerpts from a lectionary, as her texts. In her first three efforts, she has attempted to extract moral lessons from the lyrics of Kanye West, Nickelback, and India.Arie - three artists she had never heard of until her students brought them to her attention.

Young Episcopalians speak

Some of the young people at St. Peter's, Lewes, Delaware, tell why they are Episcopalians.

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Having The Talk

Two articles on the sex talk, both from the New York Times (well, one is from a NYT blog, Freakonomics), caught our attention in the last two days.

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Unravelling a sordid history

The Houston Press News unfolds the story of the Rev. James Lydell Tucker, a pedophilic priest who worked in Episcopal schools in the Diocese of Texas in the 1950s through the early 1990s, and examines the diocese's response to the allegations against him.

A rap for All Saints Day

In anticipation of All Saints Day, we present The All Saints Rap, written by the youth group at the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour, in Mill Valley, California, where Café contributor the Rev. Richard Helmer is rector. (You may need to give it a moment to download.)

The vocal is by Willie Van Doren, Our Saviour's youth minister. Music by Dow Brain.

Teens subject to reproductive coercion

After a decade of decline, teen pregnancy rates are up. CBS News/Washington Post:

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Arizona Acolyte Olympics

We've discovered something amazing out here in Arizona working with the youth. If we invite the teen council to help design an event, almost every time we put something together they change it by adding additional worship services.

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CDC: Teens headed in the right direction

It goes without saying that making the transition to adulthood isn't easy, and we seem to have inborn tendencies to be self destructive. That doesn't mean that every new generation is worse than the last. The Centers for Disease Control recent issued a report, "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance --- United States, 2009", which shows lots of bright signs in terms to trends in teen behavior. You just have to slog through the bad news of levels of risky behavior first.

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Teenagers’ faith practices changing

Barna Group reports, "Teenagers are consistently among the most religiously active Americans, with nearly six out of every 10 teens engaged in some type of group spiritual activity in a typical week." At the same time Barna finds plenty of change in the kinds of activity. While you it's worth keeping in mind studies can be agenda driven, the results are worth reflection:

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From Olympia to Israel,
and blogging it

Youth from the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia are touring Israel along with their bishop, Greg Rickel - and everyone's blogging about it.

Rickel's travelogue for July 15 notes a moment spent at the Wailing Wall:

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Back to school with prayer

Starting school is always a little nerve-racking, even if you've done it lots of times before ... here's an opportunity to get a quick fuel-up each day as you gear into school mode.

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The suicides

One argument that gets made against the Episcopal Church's efforts to fully include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Christians in the life of our church is that this initiative entails compromising the vaules of the Gospel with the values of permissive Western culture. Another argument sometimes offered is that our efforts at inclusion matter place the interests of a privileged class of western activists ahead of those of the church in the developing world.

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In gay/lesbian teen suicides, Americans see culpability in pulpits

Chilling research into perceptions of religion and homosexuality show many Americans believe the messages propounded from pulpits may just be exacerbating the issue of suicides among gay and lesbian youth.

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Teens seek meaning of Christianity

The Rev. Christine Whittaker, priest at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Holliston reflects on teens and faith in the Holliston MA online news:

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Teens not seeking alternative religious paths

Martin Marty writes:

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From Big Sky country, teens at worship

Now that it's almost Thanksgiving and we've had a few snow storms, warm up with this video produced by teens at Camp Marshall in the Episcopal Diocese of Montana this past summer.

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Lawsuit alleges mistreatment at St. John's Military School

A lawsuit filed on behalf of former attendees of St. John's Military School in Salina, Kansas, has apparently misnamed the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas as a co-defendant.

The suit, brought by parents of former students, alleges mistreatment at St. John's in the form of negligent supervision, intentional failure to supervise, intentional infliction of emotional distress or outrage, breach of fiduciary duty, and conspiracy to assault and batter.

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Hunger for Meaning: or, the Transcendence Games

Julie Clawson has a few thoughts about the Hunger Games trilogy whose first title in the series (of the same name) has spawned a film that's about to do boffo box office.

(Spoiler Alert, we suppose:)

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Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis holds mandatory school assemblies on marriage

David Badash writes:

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Graduates honor slain Episcopal School director

Graduates of Episcopal School of Jacksonville, Florida, paid homage Saturday to Dale Regan, head of the school who was murdered in her office in March.

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The particular gifts of high school youth

Matt Marino writes:

Sr. High youth are the church’s best bellwether. They have just learned to think critically and have neither the patience nor the filter to be very kind in their critique. Help your parish both listen to their voice and lead those young people toward adulthood as committed Christians in the Anglican tradition.

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Unintended consequences of "cool" youth ministry

Matt Marino, Episcopal Priest and Director of Youth and Young Adults for the Diocese of Arizona writes the blog post: "What so uncool about cool churches?"

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Amazing Grace Circus

A youth group turns their grief into a circus - story in the Nyack (NY) News and Views:

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Call me Mary

Call me Mary. Youth group tells the story of the Annunciation.

Brought to you by the youth group of First United Methodist Church of Smithville, TX. Happy Advent! Check out the rest of the story in the gospel of Luke, chapters 1-2.

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Boy Scouts considering end to ban on gay scouts

Pete Williams of NBC News reports:

The Boy Scouts of America, one of the nation’s largest private youth organizations, is actively considering an end to its decades-long policy of banning gay scouts or scout leaders, according to scouting officials and outsiders familiar with internal discussions.

If adopted by the organization’s board of directors, it would represent a profound change on an issue that has been highly controversial -- one that even went to the US Supreme Court. The new policy, now under discussion, would eliminate the ban from the national organization’s rules, leaving local sponsoring organizations free to decide for themselves whether to admit gay scouts.

“The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs,” according to Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts’ national organization.

Serve Christ Maybe: acolytes

An invitation to the 2013 Episcopal Diocese of West Texas Acolyte Festival, hosted by the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Corpus Christi, Texas, April 19-20, 2013. All youth acolytes, acolyte masters/directors are invited.

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Episcopal Youth Event to be held at Villanova University next July

From the Episcopal Church's Office of Public Affairs:

[June 8, 2013] The popular Episcopal Youth Event (EYE) will be held at Villanova University in suburban Philadelphia, PA. Slated for July 9-13, 2014, EYE14 is being planned in partnership with the Diocese of Pennsylvania.

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Malala at the UN: My soul is telling me, be peaceful and love everyone.

Malala Yousufzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani education activist who survived a Taliban assassination attempt in October 2012, spoke to the Youth Assembly of the United Nations today. It was her first public address since she was shot in the head last fall. Her text, which includes the following excerpt, is here. She said:

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Teens in Md. diocese catch the Ravens' eye

The good work of teens from the St. John's Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, Md., has caught the eye of the Baltimore Ravens and the Baltimore Sun. Tim Schwartz writes:

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To be young and homeless

A sobering thought to reflect on as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus: an estimated 1.6 million young people are homeless in the United States. At She the People, a blog on The Washington Post website, Bernardine Watson writes:

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Purity Balls and Christian formation

For head pastor Ron Wilson of the Living Stones Church, purity balls, a ritual in which a father and teenage daughter pledge their commitment in front of God to maintain her sexual purity and loyalty to God, is a significant commitment to lifelong Christian formation. Resembling aspects of a wedding, purity balls feature a covenant that a father will serve as the "High Priest" in his home in order to safeguard the purity of his daughter:

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My "affair" with a youth pastor

The survivor of an abusive sexual relationship has written a powerful essay about her experience for On Faith.

The pseudonymous Marie Jensen writes:

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Episcopal Youth meet near Philadelphia

The Episcopal Youth Event has begun. With a backdrop of a quilt made by HIV positive women in Nigeria - youth have gathered from all over the Episcopal Church to worship, study, sing, and dance:

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#EYE14 underway in Philadelphia

Episcopal Youth Event started yesterday at Villanova University in Philadelphia. Here is the sermon given by the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, canon for missional vitality in the Diocese of Long Island at the opening Eucharist.

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