What is this all about?
Only 43% of Erie County youth attend worship – lower than the state and national averages.
If we want to improve Erie, that number needs to change.
Take Me To Worship is not a religion-driven project. It is a social-science and data driven project.
And the data says that religion matters in the lives of our kids.
Take Me to Worship is part of UnifiedErie, an effort to reduce violence through prevention. The movement is grounded in research from the PA Youth Survey that shows children who attend worship one hour per week do better in many areas of life including grades, family communication, reduced violence tendencies, lower risk of suicide and enhanced self-worth.
Take Me To Worship is a public awareness initiative to make Erie County residents aware of the impact that religion has on the young people of our community.
This campaign is not about a specific type of religion or a specific type of activity. It is just about informing people what science knows...that the research says positive effects are found if a child participates in organized religion for just one hour every week.
Everyone in Erie County is invited to take action.
And, most importantly, take them to worship!
Why Take Me To Worship?
Because the data says it matters.
Just one hour a week makes a difference in the life of a kid.
The key is weekly participation for one hour or more.
Stats and Facts
Religiosity is a social science term defined as participation in organized religion for an hour or more per week. In Erie County, religiosity is measured in our youth every other year by the Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS). Ten out of 13 public schools participated in the PAYS in Erie County in 2013.
Additional information was also gathered from an Youth Religiosity Survey created in Erie County and administered in the spring of 2014. Youth across Erie County were asked questions about their religious participation and history.
The 2014 survey utilized a random sample and was available in both hard copy and online formats. Surveys were available at a variety of community organizations, as well as distributed by a variety of community members and team members. Two students from Mercyhurst University assisted with survey distribution and collection as a class project. Allison Satyshur and Lindsey Gotkin coordinated surveys to be taken and collected from various charter schools within the Perseus House system, as well as a large number of juveniles on probation. Some local religious youth groups distributed and collected surveys at youth events. Positive Youth Development provided opportunities to take the survey at the 2014 Youth Summit. Survey distribution also consisted of emails, twitter, and Facebook. Over 1,000 hard copy surveys were distributed. A total of 428 students participated in the survey. Please note that this survey at no point asked specific religious affiliation. Therefore, it was left up to students themselves to define organized religion.
Religion in Erie County
Of those surveyed in the 2014 Youth Religiosity Survey, 63% of students currently participate less than once a week or not at all. 20% say they have never attended at any time. A total of 34% participate sporadically or participated in the past.
Youth Believe It Is Important
Only 37% of youth said they participate weekly but 51% said religion is important and matters a lot. That means a large number of students who don’t currently attend regularly are open to it and think it is important.
Mom Influences Most
The most significant influence to participate or not participate in a youth’s life according to Erie data is Mom, followed by siblings, and then Dad. If Mom attends or does not attend, youth attendance will likely follow suit.
Most youth who do not participate weekly were also from immediate families who do not participate weekly. However, they were likely to know neighbors or have grandparents who do actively participate in religion. That could mean that for many youth who are not participating, a neighbor or grandparent may be the window of opportunity to connect them.
They Like Going
Of those surveyed in the 2014 Youth Religiosity Survey:
73% of those who participate in organized religion do so because they want to
27% said they are made to go but more than 2/3 of those said they like it enough to bring a friend.
Youth who respond that they participate in religion 1+ hours per week show significantly higher rates of positive family communication.
There is a significant relationship between academic achievement and religious participation. Those attending once a week or more were much more likely to get A’s an B’s, while those never attending were much more likely to get D’s and F’s.
Students who participate in organized religion 1 or more hours per week are significantly less likely to have personal attitudes that would lead to problem behaviors such as violence and delinquency.
Self-Worth, Suicide & Depression
Youth who participate in organized religion for one or more hours per week are significantly less likely to consider suicide, be depressed, or overall believe themselves to be a failure.