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America's youth, religion topic of ECU's Jarvis lecture

GREENVILLE, NC   (Sept. 9, 2004)   —   A Chapel Hill sociologist will share his findings about the future of religion in America with the East Carolina University community next month.

Christian Smith, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will speak at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 4 at the Murphy Center as part of the 13th annual Jarvis Lecture on Christianity and Culture.

Smith's free lecture, "Is 'Moralistic Therapeutic Deism' America's Real Religious Faith?" will explore how young people encounter religion and religious faith. He will draw in part from his recent findings in the National Study of Youth and Religion, a $3.9 million project funded by the Lilly Endowment.

"The findings raise questions about how individual Americans appropriate the teachings of their religious traditions and the possibility of whether a new, de facto, inter-religious faith is spreading in American culture," Calvin Mercer, director of ECU's Religious Studies Program, said.

"We are fortunate to have a competent guide to the changing religious outlook of students coming out of high school and into college," Mercer said.

Smith has written extensively about religion in America, including the secularization of American public life, evangelical religion, race and religion, and religious aspects of social activism. A forthcoming book by Smith, published by Oxford University Press, is based on his national study. Author of four books and editor or co-author of five more, Smith is the Stuart Chapin Distinguished Professor of Sociology at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The lecture is sponsored by ECU's Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Religious Studies Program, and supported by a contribution from the Jarvis Memorial United Methodist Church. The Religious Studies Program at ECU is an interdisciplinary program that provides students with the opportunity for analytical study of religion.

For more information about the Jarvis lecture or ECU's religious studies program, contact Calvin Mercer at or call (252) 328-6121.


Contact: ECU News Bureau | 252-328-6481