ACU survey claims younger generation has new attitude about church, religion

Staff Writer,
Abilene Reporter-News
Feb. 25, 2000

A survey of Church of Christ youth found that the newest generation has changing attitudes about sex, divorce, church and violence.

Results of the survey, which was conducted by the Center for Youth and Family Ministry at Abilene Christian University, were presented to students and ministers at the 16th annual Youth and Family Ministry Conference Thursday.

More than 530 youth age 11-20 from 14 states, known as Generation Y, were polled about issues relating to theology, alcohol, school, family and a variety of other topics.

Results were compared with a similar survey conducted in 1994 with Church of Christ youth, and will be used to find out what youth think and how they can be helped.

Generation Y youth, who were born between 1980 and 1995, are the largest generation since the post-World War II Baby Boomers.

Robert Oglesby, director for the Center for Youth and Family Ministry, said the survey revealed that youth from Generation Y are more technology savvy and more traditional than the older Generation X-ers.

Youth in the last survey tended to be more cynical and nontraditional than Generation Y students, Oglesby said.

"They're excited and optimistic about what's going on today," he said. "They're not down on themselves."

Compared to the last survey, the rate of youth who are choosing to remain virgins is increasing. Of those polled, 85 percent said they are virgins.

"Some good things are going on in our culture out there," said Dr. Carley Dodd, a communications professor at ACU who worked on the survey.

Relationships between premarital sex and lack of positive views of the future, a sense of community and togetherness, trust, feeling upbeat about life, telling the truth, respecting authority, a high sense of morality and feeling safe within the family were all found in the survey.

Another correlation prevalent in the survey was the relationship between youth who drink and youth who use pornography, lose their virginity, have less interest in prayer, do not respect authority and do not see the church as relevant.

Eighty-two percent of the youth polled said they have never drunk alcohol or have quit drinking.

Oglesby said Generation Y youth who were polled are religious, but are less interested in attending church.

Ninety-six percent said they believe in Jesus, but only 87 percent said the church is relevant.

"You are seeing a generational struggle that's about to transpire right before our eyes," Oglesby said.

Only 10 percent of the youth said they thought using musical instruments during church is sinful. Most Churches of Christ do not use musical instruments during worship.

"This is part of our identity as the Church of Christ," Oglesby said.

"There's obviously going to be some serious tension over instrumental music."

Oglesby said the survey reported a rise in thoughts about violence, which he attributed to recent school shootings across the country.

The study found a correlation between students whose parents had an unhappy marital situation and violence at home or school.

Students who believe divorce is OK are twice as likely - 30 percent compared to 15 - to have parents with an unhappy marital situation.

Sidney Schuhmann can be reached at 676-6721 or

Copyright ©2000, Abilene Reporter-News / Texnews / E.W. Scripps Publications


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