Thursday, November 13, 2008

Religious Kids Have More Incentive To Lie

At least, that's the conclusion that I've drawn from a study conducted by Brigham Young University sociologists. I think my findings are as valid as theirs, even if they were looking at a link between religion and marijuana use.

The study measured "religiosity" in teenagers, defined as how freqently they attended church and how important religion was to them. The researchers examined data sets from a National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health and a state-wide survey of Utah schools. They compared answers to conclude that teens with more "religiosity" were half as likely to use marijuana, drink alcohol, or smoke.

Interestingly enough, this religiosity didn't affect the likelihood of their using cocaine or heroin.

Are we really going to take these teenagers at their word? First, it's completely possible that they're upwardly exaggerating the number of times that they go to church. I do it all the time. Second, wouldn't the kids who ARE more religious want to avoid being judged by their church and their peers for using drugs? Oh, sure, their religion might consider lying to be a sin, but if they're already sinning by using drugs, why wouldn't they lie about it?

I'm not saying that participating in a religious community has no benefits at all, I just want to be cautious about not overestimating them. After all, good parenting is important, too.

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The header image is adapted from a photo taken by Bill McChesney and used under a creative commons license.
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