Teenagers whose parents attend evangelical or Catholic churches are far more likely to maintain the religious identity of their parents than are teens whose parents attend a mainline Protestant church, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
The poll also showed that evangelical teens stand out from other teens in practicing their faith.
The survey, released Thursday and conducted prior to the pandemic, found that 80 percent of teens (ages 13-17) whose parents are evangelical maintain that religious identity, while 81 percent of teens from Catholic homes share their parents’ religious views.
But among homes of teens whose parents attend a mainline Protestant congregation – such as ones affiliated with the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church or the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – only 55 percent of teens share their parents’ religious views.
A total of 24 percent of teens from mainline Protestant homes are unaffiliated with religion, compared to 12 percent of teens from evangelical homes and 15 percent of teens from Catholic homes.
Meanwhile, the poll also found that evangelical teens “stand out from other adolescents” in their commitment to faith, according to a Pew analysis that also said evangelical teens are “far more likely” to practice their faith in specific tangible ways.
For example, about half of evangelical teens (48 percent) say religion is very important in their lives, compared to only one-fourth of Catholic (27 percent) and mainline Protestant (25 percent) teens who answered that way.
On other issues:
- 71 percent of evangelical teens say they believe in God with “absolute certainty,” compared to less than half of mainline (49 percent) and Catholic teens (45 percent) who answer that way.
- 64 percent of evangelical teens attend church services regularly, while only 40 percent of mainline and Catholic teens do.
- 51 percent of evangelical teens say they pray daily. One-fourth of mainline (25 percent) and Catholic (26 percent) teens say they pray daily.
“Evangelical Protestant teens also stand out from the other groups analyzed in this survey on how they engage in religious practices with their family,” Pew said. “Eight-in-ten or more report that they often or sometimes say grace before meals with their family and talk with their family about religion.”
The survey included interviews with 1,811 teenagers in March and April 2019.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.