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Youth in U.S. Back Religious Conservatism

September 28, 2002|From Times Wire Services

The nation's youth are more conservative than older adults on issues relating to religion and abortion, a study by UC Berkeley has found.

A report released this week by the school's Survey Research Center found that while 59% of adults ages 27 to 59 would like public schools to permit prayer at commencements and other official school activities, 69% of teenagers support school prayer.

"We were surprised by the great support among young Americans for some aspects of the conservative cultural agenda," said Merrill Shanks, a political science professor at UC Berkeley and a lead researcher of the study. "Young Americans show more conservatism on religious politics and abortion even though youths, as a group, appear to be less likely than their elders to attend religious services regularly or consider religion a guide in their daily life."

Forty percent of adults ages 27 to 59 support federal funding of faith-based charities, but 59% of college-age respondents and 67% of younger teens said they supporte such aid.

Limitations on abortion also have more support from younger Americans. Roughly one-third of those surveyed over the age of 22 say they support restrictions on abortion. But among those aged 15 to 22, 44% say they would favor restrictions.

The report, part of the Survey Research Center's Public Agendas and Citizen Engagement Survey, is based on interviews of about 1,250 people.

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