Faith, Authenticity, and Pro-Social Values in the Lives of Young People in Germany

Gärtner, Christel; Hennig, Linda

Forschungsartikel (Zeitschrift)


Increasing secularization, pluralization, and individualization have done much to weaken denominational identities and traditional religiosity in most Western countries since the 1960s, with the effect that—to echo Niklas Luhmann—being religious requires purely religious reasons. This also applies to young people, for whom religion is still an option, but precisely one option among others, and according to Charles Taylor quite a challenging one. In our article, we want to focus on young people who actively engage with faith and religion, and who take up a different position with regard to religion than their peers during their adolescence. The data are in-depth interviews with families with three generations present. We will explore the ways in which teenagers (aged 12–19) and young adults (aged 22–25) are confronted with religious issues, as well as how they decide upon these issues and justify their decisions. We will argue that both the societal context and the life phase of adolescence or young adulthood make it likely that a person will base decisions regarding religion upon the criterion of authenticity. Our findings demonstrate that especially positioning towards the question of belief can be a lengthy and conflictual process. We identified two main forms of religiosity that are socially accepted in contemporary society: deriving a sense of social responsibility from faith and transforming and translating belief and religious experience into secular contexts.

Details zur Publikation

Veröffentlichungsjahr: 2022
Sprache, in der die Publikation verfasst istEnglisch
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