Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults
BY Christian Smith and Patricia Snell
How important is religion for young people in America today? What are the major influences on their developing spiritual lives? How do religious beliefs and practices change as young people enter into adulthood? This book explores these questions and many others as it tells the definitive story of the religious and spiritual lives of emerging adults, ages eighteen to twenty-four, in the U.S. today. Based on candid interviews with thousands of young people tracked over a five-year period, this book reveals how the religious practices of the teenagers portrayed in a previous book Soul Searching have been strengthened, challenged, and often changed as the young people have moved into adulthood. The book vividly describes as well the broader cultural world of today's emerging adults, how that culture shapes their religious outlooks, and what the consequences are for religious faith and practice in America more generally. Some of the book's findings are surprising. Parents turn out to be the single most important influence on the religious outcomes in the lives of young adults. On the other hand, teenage participation in evangelization missions and youth groups does not predict a high level of religiosity just a few years later. Moreover, the common wisdom that religiosity declines sharply during the young adult years is shown to be greatly exaggerated.