adolescent well-being & belief in God

I'm doing a lot of policy writing on youth and I keep coming across statements about the benefits of belief in God for teens. These statements claim that belief helps keep them out of trouble, makes them more resilient, etc.


I suspect this is not true - that belief in the supernatural makes people less resilient because they depend on a source of power outside of themselves. Attachment theory tells us that youth are more resilient when they have strong relationships involving mutual exchange of one's inner self. Unless people are hearing voices, there is no mutual exchange in a relationship with God 0 it's a pretty one-sided exchange. Thus, I doubt it is a significant protective factor from a relational perspective.


Does anyone know of research (scholarly research is preferable) that either confirms or questions these claims?

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Comment by Rachel on September 27, 2011 at 7:53am
I stopped believing during adolescence and rebelled against my catholic family's moral doctrines. I don't attribute any of my adolescent behaviour to believing or not believing. I think its irrelevant - our morality is not derived from religion. I agree that there are protective factors such as close relationships with caring adults (especially your parents), a sense of community, etc... that you can find within religious communities and outside of these. I'll search a little to find out what research is out there and share it. Thanks for your thoughts!
Comment by Nerdlass on September 26, 2011 at 8:46pm

Well, that didn't stop my oldest brother... Mind you, he managed not to eff up his life in the process of being a rebellious teen. However, he did make it so that my older brother and myself were sure not to drive our parents any crazier. We behaved. I don't think it was so much my belief system at the time. Rather it was that experience and a respect I already had towards my parents. And I actually talked with my folks. o.O I dunno, maybe I'm an odd duck.


What about others who left religion? Do you think it had a positive effect on your teenage years?

Comment by annet on September 26, 2011 at 8:30pm

sorry actually that is a little off topic but it is in that direction... 

Comment by annet on September 26, 2011 at 8:19pm

here is a good article on this subject:


Comment by Squirrel on September 26, 2011 at 9:11am

Belief in God may or not be beneficial, but it would be difficult to prove it either way. I think other factors are much more important. Being part of a community (could be a church, or an atheist organization, or something else) and being well-integrated, may help people stay

on the right path.



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