October 06, 2006

US Teens Spurning The GOP's Gods? Or Not?

A rather wierd piece of journalism from the New York Times:
At an unusual series of leadership meetings in 44 cities this fall, more than 6,000 pastors are hearing dire forecasts from some of the biggest names in the conservative evangelical movement.

Their alarm has been stoked by a highly suspect claim that if current trends continue, only 4 percent of teenagers will be “Bible-believing Christians” as adults. That would be a sharp decline compared with 35 percent of the current generation of baby boomers, and before that, 65 percent of the World War II generation.
The NYT article starts out by presenting the problem as a fundamental choice between by “Biblical values” and "casual sex, risqué music and videos, Internet pornography, alcohol and drugs". Is this lazy reporting, or yet another focussed attempt at creating a false dichotomy? Well, you have to get halfway through page 2 to find this:
The 4 percent is cited in the book “The Bridger Generation” by Thom S. Rainer, a Southern Baptist and a former professor of ministry. Mr. Rainer said in an interview that it came from a poll he had commissioned, and that while he thought the methodology was reliable, the poll was 10 years old.

“I would have to, with integrity, say there has been no significant follow-up to see if the numbers are still valid,” Mr. Rainer said.
Isn't that too wierd? You build a whole article around a statistic which you then reveal to be outdated and unreliable. No wonder people are switching to blogs!


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