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Young People Express Views on Religion, Politics

Forty-four percent of young American adults agree that religion is a very important part of their lives, according to a study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Judy Woodruff reports on Generation Next's changing attitudes toward faith and politics.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF, NewsHour Special Correspondent:

    Lisa Higaki of Los Angeles is 24 years old.


    I don't think I've ever known a moment without God in my life. Not taking it as a religion, as something that's, like, just labeled on me, like, "I'm Japanese-American. I'm a woman. I'm a daughter. I'm a sister." But actually kind of like a lifestyle, in a sense. I mean, it's just been kind of, like, my personal kind of identity.


    According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 44 percent of young American adults agree that religion is a very important part of their lives. For many, that's thanks to their parents.

    You've mentioned the church several times and the role of your faith, your Christianity. Where did that come from?


    Definitely my parents. I don't think they've ever really pushed upon me, like, "You must be a Christian," you know, "And this is your religion, and this is what you're going to do."

    I think it was always — it was kind of just part of growing up, growing up in the church.


    For others, religious practice is grounded in longstanding cultural traditions. First-generation Nigerian-American Adora Mora grew up Catholic in Columbus, Ohio.


    I grew up in a deeply religious and spiritual household, and I think faith is what brought us through all our situations.


    For many young people, however, early adulthood becomes a time to question one's religious upbringing. According to studies done by the evangelical research firm the Barna Group, approximately 60 percent of people in their 20s who were religious in their teens are now disengaged.


    I grew up thinking that what you had to do in order to — what you had to do was go to church for an hour on Sunday morning, or go to mass — excuse me — for an hour on Sunday morning. And if you were really lucky, it would only be 45 minutes.

    I knew before I got to college nobody was going to see me darken the door of a church, so I didn't. I never went to Catholic mass once.

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