Religious Participation and the Development of Moral Identity in Adolescence
Religion’s connection to morality may currently be of greater interest than it has been in any previous period of American history. Scarcely a week goes by without headlines in the newspaper and stories on television news concerning religion and its role in the ethics of education, public life, international relations, and so on. The salience of religion and morality has resulted partly from the clash of background assumptions about religion with current events. Most Americans presume that religion contributes to the public good and to ethical life. In a recent national poll (Public Agenda, 2001), 70% of Americans reported that they wanted religion’s influence on the country to grow. Particularly surprising was the same poll’s finding that most (76%) of those advocating for greater religious influence on public life claimed that denominational affiliation did not matter. In other words, Americans seemingly believe that those connected to a religious community—whatever that community’s practices may be—are more ethical than those without membership in a religious group. This belief probably underlies the American public’s support for nondenominational school prayer as an effective strategy for moral development (Public Agenda, 2001).
KeywordsMoral Judgment Community Service Moral Development Moral Identity Moral Issue
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