Panelists share views on God and religion

By: Lauren Forcella
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Dear Straight Talk: I read the recent Pew survey results on religious views and was surprised that 92 percent of American adults believe in God. I’m wondering if the same is true of our youth. With only about a third of households attending weekly services, and many teenagers hardly attending at all, it would be interesting to hear from your panel. – Marysville CA From Jennifer, 14: I’ve never attended church. I believe in one main God, whom I pray to – and that everything is God. From Emily, 15: My closest friends are mostly the same religion as me; they pray, believe in God and attend church regularly. Our parents are the same religion, too, but I honestly think, given the choice, we would all stay. I attribute my values and choices to my religion. From Katie, 15: I’ve been forced to attend church since birth, but my over-the-top Catholic parents contribute to almost all my stress. I’m constantly judged and never good enough. If parents would ease up on the religion thing, we would like it more. From Shelby, 16: ’Til I was 10, my mom took me to the Unitarian Universalist Church, which teaches the different religions. Afterward, since I didn’t feel a “connection,” she let me stop going. I think there are angels and spirits, but not an individual “God.” If there was, why are people in Africa dying, why did the earthquake in China kill thousands of schoolchildren? From Dominic, 21: I was raised Mormon. Then I realized that organized religion is a means of answering what is unanswerable and incomprehensible. I cannot accept the premise that God, (a gentle old man with a beard, or perhaps the Sun), determines how I should live. I’m open to the “idea” of God, but I cannot honestly comprehend this level of mystery – and I’m comfortable with that! To quote from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “The answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is 42.” From Lennon, 21: If I were to say that God speaks to me, I’d be laughed at, but it’s perfectly okay for the Pope – and I guarantee he’s more corrupt than I! There is the story of the man who invented his own religion, preached it and attained followers. Much later he confessed to making the whole thing up, whereupon his followers stoned him to death and went on believing. If the Pope denounced God, something similar would happen. God didn’t create people, people created God. From Elizabeth, 20: Almost everyone has a religious battle inside. There are the college students, who, after taking a world religions class, turn against all religion. Then there’s the group who believes in God, but doesn’t proceed because of the influence of family, friends, and the thought of giving up worldly possessions and vices. Next is the group who believes, but does not voice their beliefs out of fear of ridicule. Fourth are those who tried the “church thing” but found it “judgmental.” Let’s not forget those who say they believe, but are no closer to God than a non-believer. For me, I believe in Christ and the Lord and will express that to any ear that will listen. From Farren, 20: My parents didn’t attend services, but I went often with friends. Around fourth grade, it became a big deal whether I was Christian or not, but I never felt fully accepted. By high school I thought I was atheist. But now that I’ve had more life experience, I’m open to the idea of a higher power. I’m glad my parents didn’t force a religion on me so I could decipher life for myself. As for values, my parents are highly moral; they taught me right from wrong and made me take responsibility for myself. Dear Marysville: A longer teen comment that sums up this generation is on our Web site. Please visit. – Write to Straight Talk at or PO Box 963, Fair Oaks CA 95628.