Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on ReligionInstitute for Studies of Relgion
IJRR :: 2011 Volume 7 :: Article 5
2011 Volume 7, Article 5
Sources of Adolescent Faith: Examining the Origins of Religious Confidence

Author: Michael K. Abel (Brigham Young University-Idaho)

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Although proponents of the religious economies paradigm have regularly asserted the importance of the problem of religious confidence, they have put little effort into examining it theoretically and empirically. This article rectifies this shortcoming by explaining how and why specific aspects of past religious experience should nurture religious confidence. Binary logistic regression analysis was conducted by using the 2003 and 2005 waves of the National Study of Youth and Religion to identify the determinants of teenagers' confidence in the existence of God, the existence of angels. and the existence of an afterlife. Although results indicate that past involvement in family discussions about religious or spiritual matters significantly increases the likelihood that teenagers will develop strong belief in all three of the doctrines examined, praying with family, parental encouragement to participate in a youth group, and church attendance of parents were not found to be consistent predictors. Respondents who reported having witnessed a miracle, receiving an answer to prayer, and having powerful spiritual experiences also displayed greater religious confidence. Future research on religion and religious socialization could benefit from a greater focus on, and more effective measures of, religious confidence.

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