Age and religious belief

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  • Created by: Lilly
  • Created on: 30-04-14 16:13

Age general ideas and statistics

  • People seem to develop greater attatchment to religion as they grow older.
  • Belief in God lowest among those under 34 and highest among those over 55. Youth less likely to participate in mainstream religious activity than olders, according to British Social Attitudes Survey and European Vlaues study more than half of young people say they don't regard themselves as religious at all.
  • Brierly (2005)- In 1979 the average age of the church goer was 37, but by 2005 it was 49.
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Older people and religion

Voas and Crockett- attachment of elders can be explained by 3 main factors:

1) Disengagement- become detatched from intergrating mechanisms of society (employment and participation in work place) May face growing privitisation of the lives, increasing social isolation as partners and friends die. Religion and participation provides a form of social support in this situation and a network of people to relate to.

2) Religious socialisation- elders more likely to have greater emphasis on religion through education system and socialisation in family when older. May hve laid seeds that flower when they grow older as they rediscover a religiousity they may have previously ignored- Period effect.

3) Ill health and death - elders tend to be faced with declining health and death looms, these are the very things that religion concerns itself with. Ageing process and disengagement from society may therefore generate an engagement for comfort, coping, meaning and support.

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Younger people and religion

Davie - 15-34 less likely to believe in god. Youth becoming more rationa with the development and avaliability of science.

Youth less religious in terms of heir expressed belief and participation in mainsream Christian religions. 6 main reasons for their lower religiosity:

1- declining attraction of religion

2- Expaning spiritual marketplace

3- Privitisation of beleif

4- secular spirituality and the sacred

5- declining religious education

6- pragmatic reasons

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Declining attraction of religion

  • Mainstram religion unattractive to young people. Find serices boring, repetitive and old fashioned full of old people and out of touch with the styles and attitudes of younger people.
  • Controversies in religion (abortion, sex before marriage, gay rights, women becoming priests) seen as bizarre to many youths and alien to the values that they hold.
  • Former bishop of Canterbury George Carey said in 1991 that he saw the COE as like 'an elderly woman, who mutters away to herself in a corner, ignored most of the time.'
  • Many see it as 'uncool.'
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Expanding spiritual marketplace

  • Lynch (2008) youth turning away from conventional ideas of religion as there is now what Roof (2001) called an expanding spiritual market place. Involves growing exposure and accessibility to wide diversity of religious and spiritual ideas. Have openened up new avenues for exploring religion and spirituality.
  • Meant there are now more sources for young people to draw on to build religious and spiritual beliefs, identities and lifestyles and these may be finding expression outside traditional religions and religious organisations.
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Privitisation of belief- believing without belongi

  • May chose to treat their religion as private matter. May not feel they belong to particular religion or hold any specific belief. May prefer not to make any public display of whatever they believe through involvement in religious organisations or admit them in surveys.
  • Davie (1994)- expressed this as 'believing without belonging'
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Secular spirituality and the sacred

  • Lynch- although youth diverted from religion as normally conceived may be finding religious feelings inspired in them by aspects of what are generally regarded as non-religious or secular life.
  • Therefore youth have not lost all religiosit, simply finding new forms, many of which are associated more with secular and non-religious world than with religion as it is presently understood by most people.
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Declining religious education

  • Bruce- COE is increasingly unable to recruit yoth by socialising them into religious thinking through such things as Church sunday schools / RE.
  • Sundays schools in decline
  • Christian research- a century ago over 1/2 of all children attended a sunday school, but by 2000 this had reduced to just 1 in 25 children, if current rates continue, there will hardly be any sundays schools left by 2016.
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Pragmatic reasons

  • Range of practical / pragmatic explanations for decline in belief among youth.
  • Leisure- large part of life, shops clubs and bars open long hours, including sundays.
  • Youth had more demands on their time, may simply be more interested in other things.
  • Can be seen as uncool to be religious in many young peer groups, which exerts social pressure not be religious.
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Age and NRM/NAMs

Youth and Sects.

Most likely to join sects because:

1) more freedom and few social ties, do not have dependents

2)  traditional religion less influencial in modern society, youth may experience anomie, sects offer moral guidance and sernse of community.

Middle age, middle class and cults.

Join cults because they have too much at stake in society (job, children, family) to join sect that may require them to withdraw completelty.

Ruickbie (2004)- those who most actively practice witchcraft are in thei 30/40s.

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