A Service of the Parish Evaluation Project
September, 2012Almost Christian In 2010, Kenda Creasy Dean wrote a report based on surveys from 3,300 American teenagers, plus follow-up interviews. The book was called, Almost Christian, What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church (NY: Oxford University Press, 2010.) A committee from the San Jose Diocese was asked to summarize the results and present it to the bishop and Council of Priests. What follows are some key findings quoted by the committee, along with the page numbers from the book. Faith Of Their Parents Why are American teenagers at once so positive about Christianity and at the same time so apathetic about genuine practice? Part of the reason is based on their parents’ view of their own faith. The book found that the religiosity of American teens largely reflects their parents’ views. Teens echo “with astonishing clarity, the religious choices of the adults who love them.” The solution lies not in improving parish youth programs or making worship more “cool” and attractive, but “in modeling the kind of mature, passionate faith we say we want young people to have.” (pp. 3-4, as quoted in the San Jose Report, p. 3) True Christianity, Dean contends, has been traded for a religion that stresses “being nice, feeling good about oneself, and saving God for emergencies.” The guiding beliefs of this approach to religion are:
- A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over life on earth.
- God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible.
- The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
- God is not involved in my life except when I need God to resolve a problem.
- Good people go to heaven when they die.