Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Religious Education, PhD

First Advisor

O. Jane Thayer

Second Advisor

Jerome D. Thayer

Third Advisor

Edwin I. Hernandez

Abstract

Problem. No formal study that considers the influence of the family, church, school, peers, media, and Adventist culture on the denominational loyalty, Christian commitment, and religious behavior of Adventist young people of Puerto Rico has previously been conducted. Therefore, pastors, parents, teachers, church leaders, and administrators have no data on which to base their assessment of the religiosity of Adventist young people.

Method. This study used youth ages 14 to 21 from the youth sample of the Avance PR study conducted in 1995 in Adventist schools and churches in Puerto Rico. For the analysis, the sample was divided. When studying denominational loyalty, 704 baptized Adventist youth were used; when studying Christian commitment and religious behavior, 1,080 Adventist and non-Adventist youth were used.

Results. The relationship between 34 family, church, school, peers, media, and Adventist culture independent variables and three religiosity dependent variables (denominational loyalty, Christian commitment, and religious behavior) was studied. Twenty-eight of the 34 variables had a significant relationship with all three religiosity variables: 10 family variables, seven church variables, one school variable, two peers variables, two media variables, and six Adventist culture variables. The remaining six variables had a significant relationship with only one or two of the three religiosity variables. The strength of relationships between religiosity and 22 of the independent variables varied by gender, age, family status, years lived in United States, and number of times families moved in last five years.

The model predicting denominational loyalty showed that youth are more likely to have a strong denominational loyalty when parents enforce Sabbath standards, there is a thinking environment in the church, quality sermons are preached in church, there is a warm environment in church, youth's best friends are religious, youth agree with Adventist standards, and youth agree with Sabbath standards. The model predicting Christian commitment showed that youth are more likely to have a strong commitment to Christ when there is unity in their families, there is a thinking environment in the church, there is a warm environment in the church, quality sermons are preached in the church, youth's best friends are religious, youth agree with Sabbath standards, and youth comply with at-risk standards. The model predicting religious behavior showed that youth are more likely to have a strong religious behavior when the parents lead frequent family worships, there is a thinking environment in the church, quality sermons are preached in the church, youth's best friends are Adventist, youth's best friends are religious, youth agree on Adventist standards, and youth agree on Sabbath standards.

The variables that appeared in all models of religiosity of youth were the church's thinking environment, the church's sermon quality, youth's best friends religiosity, and youth's agreement on Sabbath's standards. Furthermore, the strongest predictor for denominational loyalty was the youth's agreement on SDA standards; the strongest predictor for Christian commitment was family unity; and the strongest predictor for religious behavior was the church's thinking environment.

Conclusions. My conclusions based on this study conducted in Puerto Rico are consistent with conclusions of other researchers in the United States that family, church, school, peers, media, and Adventist culture factors are important predictors of youth's denominational loyalty, Christian commitment, and religious behavior. Adventist culture and church have the strongest influence on denominational loyalty. Family and church have the strongest influence on Christian commitment. Church and Adventist culture have the strongest influence on religious behavior.

Subject Area

Youth--Puerto Rico--Religious life, Seventh-day Adventist youth--Puerto Rico--Religious life, Seventh-day Adventists--Puerto Rico