Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Counseling Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Mercedes H. Dyer

Second Advisor

George H. Akers

Third Advisor

Robert J. Cruise


Problem. Some young people who are reared in religious homes reject the religion of their parents upon reaching adolescence. This is a matter of crucial concern to church youth leaders as well as to parents. It was the purpose of the present study to discover relationships that may exist between alienation from religion and other selected variables. It was hypothesized that religious alienation is related to the quality of the relationships— especially as those relationships concern religious values— chat the young people have with parents and other authority figures. Independent variables were chosen in accordance with that hypothesis which was subdivided into sixteen research hypotheses. Method. Four hundred students were chosen by a stratified random method from among all students enrolled in Seventh-day Adventist secondary schools in the United States. Each young person was asked to respond to the Youth Perceptual Inventory, an instrument especially designed for this study. The Inventory consists of 154 statements divided into sixteen Likert-type attitude scales and six demographic items. One scale measured alienation from religion. The other fifteen measured the independent variables. The data were collected in a manner which guaranteed complete anonymity to the responding students by a staff liaison person at each school. A response of 100 percent was secured. The major statistical method used in analyzing the data was multiple regression analysis.

Results. Approximately 16 percent of the adolescents might be considered alienated from religion in general, while 52 percent are alienated from some aspect of their religion. Items which elicited the most alienation concern Sabbath sermons, church membership, experiences with the church, Bible classes, and church restrictions on the life-style. Correlations between the alienation-from-religion scale and the other scales are all significant at the .01 level except one. The strength of these correlations ranges from .21 to .60. Therefore all but one of the research hypotheses are supported. Among the parental and home influences studied, poor relationships with parents, authoritarianism in parents, lack of family harmony, lack of parental religious sincerity, failure to achieve emancipation from parents, and harsh parental discipline are all positively correlated with alienation from religion. Parental noncompliance with church standards is not significantly correlated with religious alienation. Among school influences examined, lack of religious sincerity in teachers, little personal interest of teachers, poor relationships with teachers, harsh school discipline, authoritarianism in school, and teachers' noncompliance with church standards are all positively correlated with alienation from religion. The concept of religion as legalism rather than relationship and the expressed unbelief in Adventist doctrines are both positively correlated with alienation from religion. Of the demographic items, only sex was significant with a correlation of -.14. The coefficient of multiple correlation between alienation from religion and a linear combination of the twenty-one other variables is .72. This is significant beyond the .01 level. The stepwise solution selects seven of the variables as adding significantly to the prediction. In descending order, they are religious sincerity of teachers, relationships with parents, belief in Adventist doctrines, personal interest of teachers, concept of religion, length of time the family has been Adventist, and relationships with teachers.

Conclusions. Alienation from religion in Adventist adolescents is highly correlated with the quality of their relationships with parents and other authority figures, especially as these relationships concern religious values. More than half of the alienation variance is explained by a combination of the selected independent variables. This suggests that a particularly fruitful way of preventing or reducing youth religious alienation lies in the efforts of parents and spiritual leaders to improve the quality of their interactions with the rising generation.

Subject Area

Apostasy, Youth--Research, Youth--Religious life

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