Attitudes to religion and the communication of Christian truth
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This study examines the formation and maintenance of young peoples’ attitude to Christianity and seeks to ascertain which are the salient factors, or group of factors, involved in such processes. It was stimulated by the apparent gradient of decline in young people’s active participation in the life of the Church in many parts of Scotland and by the thought that such decline may be due in some measure to young people’s fundamental attitudes to Christianity. The empirical research, which forms the kernel of the study, was undertaken in 1986 among 6,838 secondary school pupils, aged 11 to 17 years, in non-denominational, denominational and independent schools within the Dundee area. Questionnaires relating to attitudes to religion and science were administered by teachers, mainly from Religious Education departments within the schools. The Francis Attitude towards Christianity Scale (ASC 4B) was used in connection with the attitudes to religion items. The data was analysed by means of the SPSSX statistical package. Each section of the study investigates available research literature relevant to the topic considered. Chapter 4 looks in detail at the main variables involved in the formation and maintenance of young people’s attitudes to Christianity, viz. Pupils’ sex, age, personal Church attendance and Sunday School attendance, parental Church attendance and parental encouragement, social class differences, peer group influence, type of school attended and attitudes to science. The effects of television viewing on young people’s perceptions, including their perceptions of religion on television, was also considered. Among the basic conclusions reached by this study are there: - Parental example and encouragement are the most salient elements in the religious socialization of young people. Peer group influence is also shown to be a significant factor in the transmission of young people’s attitudes to Christianity. Pupils’ Church attendance has considerable influence on their attitudes to Christianity and the continuance of these and their attitudes to science are shown to have special importance for their attitudes to religion. The 13 to 15 year age period merits further and deeper examination. This appears to be a decisive stage in adolescent development, when significant changes occur in young people’s perceptions of religion and in their attitudes to Christianity.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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