Back Pocket God: Religion and Spirituality in the Lives of Emerging Adults

Melinda Lundquist Denton and Richard Flory. Oxford Univ., $29.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-19-006478-5
In this illuminating work, the culmination of a decade-long study, Denton (A Faith of Their Own), and Flory (The Rise of Network Christianity)—sociologists at, respectively, the University of Texas and the University of Southern California—take stock of changes in the perceptions of and engagement with religion for American young adults based on surveys and interviews conducted with nearly 4,000 individuals between the ages of 23 and 28. In a key finding, the authors identify a lack of interest in, rather than an animosity toward, religion among their sample group. They argue this intriguing development mirrors the current ideological divide within American culture: emerging adults who identify with any religious tradition seem inclined to stay engaged with their religion, while an overall trend shows declining religious participation and engagement, which is “hollowing out the religious middle,” or those who are religious but not especially devout. While numerous tables present data on topics—including participants’ declining attendance at religious services, increasingly negative views of organized religion, and general beliefs about God and heaven—the authors balance extensive research findings with engaging stories from interviewees and opportunities to read participants’ responses in their own words. Sobering and enlightening, this analysis offers much for religious institutions to ponder as they work to attract and retain younger members. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 12/02/2019
Release date: 04/01/2020
Genre: Religion
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