header image


Review in Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion by Jenny Trinitapoli

Review in Sociology of Religion by Timothy Clydesdale


“A Faith of Their Own moves the conversation on adolescent spirituality significantly forward by examining, not a static snapshot of teenagers’ religious lives, but the ways in which these lives change during adolescence; the authors’ conclusions will surprise and challenge you. Pearce and Denton write with the confidence of people who know, and love, their subjects, making A Faith of Their Own a dynamic, accessible, and often unexpected map of adolescents’ spiritual terrain. If you know and love a teenager, you’re going to need this book.”
— Kenda Creasy Dean, author of Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church

“This nuanced, comprehensive book will become the standard reference for anyone seeking a sensitive and rigorous analysis of the religious lives of American adolescents. Dispensing with the hand-wringing that accompanies many accounts, the authors take a multidimensional approach to religiosity, emphasize stability and normal development processes, and explore the effects of religious consistency on well-being as teenagers transition into young adulthood–a smart take on American religiosity and American youth.”
— Penny Edgell, author of Religion and Family in a Changing Society

“Pearce and Denton bring the content, conduct and centrality of religion to life for youth today. They successfully integrate rich person-centered accounts of the meaning and practice of religion among teens using in-depth conversations with youth themselves, combined with variable-centered analyses of a national survey study of youth and religion. A Faith of Their Own thus makes an important contribution to the use of mixed methods, in addition to its path-breaking findings regarding the religious life of American youth.”
— Thomas S. Weisner, Professor of Anthropology, Departments of Psychiatry & Anthropology, UCLA

“Pearce (sociology, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) and Denton (sociology, Clemson University) use the results of the National Study of Youth and Religion survey to draw conclusions that might startle some.  The study included both telephone surveys and personal interviews of individuals at two points in time, allowing the authors to develop complex picture of religiosity in America’s youth.  It seems that American teens do not universally experience a decline in their religiosity, but, instead, the majority remain stable while others even increase.  By separating religious conduct, beliefs, and sense of religion’s personal importance they are able to describe five categories of religiosity among youth, with each having different values along these axes.  The study is also able to demonstrate the importance of parents, peers, and congregations in influencing, both positively and negatively, a teen’s religious change.  VERDICT: Some sections, particularly on methodology, will be rough going for the average reader, but the book will prove rewarding to all—whether parents, youth leaders, students, or academics—who have an interest in teen religious behavior.” — LIBRARY JOURNAL, December 2010

“The National Study of Youth and Religion has produced numerous significant books and articles about the state of adolescent religiosity, and authors Pearce and Denton’s most recent contribution is no exception. Studying a group of teenagers, the two sociologists examine how the teens’ attitudes about faith change (or don’t) as they get older. The authors find, much to even their own surprise, that adolescent religiosity either stays the same or increases over time. The book is filled to the brim with fascinating new data as well as helpful categories (three Cs to measure and describe religiosity: content, conduct, and centrality; five As that describe types of believers: abiders, adapters, assenters, avoiders, and atheists) for both reframing scholarly understanding and evaluating adolescent religiosity. An audience of academics, graduate students, and ministry practitioners will find the authors’ dense prose worth the investment required to get at their results. Pearce and Denton tell numerous teens’ stories to illuminate their categories, yet readers may wish the authors had quoted these young women and men more directly in narrative form. This latest publication from the NSYR will be a useful addition to graduate courses especially.” — 12.13.10 PUBLISHERS WEEKLY