Watching R-rated movies lessens importance of faith for young people, study finds

October 30, 2013
Credit: iStockphoto

Viewing R-rated movies leads to decreased church attendance and lessens importance of faith among young people, according to a study by a Baylor University researcher published online in the Review of Religious Research.

But watching R-rated did not have any effect on whether they have about their beliefs—or whether they thought it was all right to "pick and choose" teachings without accepting the as a whole, said Phil Davignon, a doctoral candidate in sociology in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences.

Previous research shows that when teens become young adults, they generally retain similar religious beliefs to those held by their parents. But young adults nevertheless are the least religiously active age group in the United States.

The Baylor study analyzed data from more than 2,000 adolescents, young adults and their parents who responded to the 2003, 2005 and 2007-2008 waves of the National Study of Youth and Religion. In the first wave, all respondents were adolescents between ages 13 and 17, but some entered young adulthood in the subsequent waves.

The survey included individuals with varying degrees of faith. Regardless of the degree of faith, most respondents viewed at least some R-rated movies.

Only 13.2 percent who indicated that their faith is "extremely important" to them claimed that none of the movies they watch are R-rated, while nearly 21 percent of those whose faith was "extremely important" said that most movies they view are rated R. Of those whose faith was "very important," 31 percent claimed that most of the movies they view are rated R.

While those percentages are lower than those whose faith is "not at all important," it still represents a sizable percentage of the respondents whose faith is important to them, Davignon said.

"Watching R-rated movies is prevalent among religious and non-religious young people," he said. "Nearly everyone watches them."

While many people watch movies in their homes, children younger than 17 are not allowed to attend an R-rated movie at a theater without an accompanying parent or adult guardian because, in the view of the Motion Picture Association of America rating administration, it contains some adult material. That may include adult themes, adult activity, hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually-oriented nudity, drug abuse or other elements.

Regarding movies seen by survey respondents, "we don't know whether the movies were rated 'R' because of sex, violence, language or all of the above. But in general, they contain themes contrary to Christian values —although there are some exceptions, such as 'The Passion of the Christ,'" Davignon said.

Having more non-religious friends had a negative effect on the importance of faith and worship attendance, the study showed. Meanwhile, the influence of parents who placed greater importance on faith had a positive effect on , and were more likely to view faith as important if parents monitored media use.

"Adolescents and base their movie choices on their personal preferences, but R-rated movies seem to influence them beyond their initial attitudes towards religion," Davignon said. "Viewing R-rated movies was damaging to religious faith even after accounting for the of religion in one's family, peer influence and parental monitoring of media, among other factors."

Explore further: The Danes do not abandon church Christianity

Related Stories

The Danes do not abandon church Christianity

October 21, 2013

New research from University of Copenhagen shows that Danes are not abandoning their communal Protestant religion in favor of individualized spirituality such as meditation and mindfulness; the support for Christian faith ...

A cancer diagnosis does not make young people religious

October 18, 2012

A sociologist of religion from the University of Copenhagen has interviewed 21 young patients diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer about their religious beliefs. She concludes that a cancer diagnosis will not make young ...

Recommended for you

Waiting periods reduce deaths from guns, study suggests

October 17, 2017

(—A trio of researchers with Harvard Business School has found evidence that they claim shows gun deaths decline when states enact waiting period laws. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy ...

Roman theater uncovered at base of Jerusalem's Western Wall

October 16, 2017

Israeli archaeologists on Monday announced the discovery of the first known Roman-era theater in Jerusalem's Old City, a unique structure around 1,800 years old that abuts the Western Wall and may have been built during Roman ...

Human speech, jazz and whale song

October 13, 2017

Jazz musicians riffing with each other, humans talking to each other and pods of killer whales all have interactive conversations that are remarkably similar to each other, new research reveals.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 30, 2013
"Viewing R-rated movies leads to decreased church attendance and lessens importance of faith among young people." - Article

Excellent... This is good news indeed. The world needs more R rated movies.

1 / 5 (2) Oct 30, 2013
The surviving religions are all designed to maximize their growth rate. And so any form of sex which does not lead to reproduction is considered evil.

Evidence suggests [citation needed] that pleistocene cultures had ways of limiting growth, including among other things non-procreative sex. We might expect to see the tendency toward this behavior in for instance cities which are by definition, overpopulated.

An angel went to visit Lot and while inside his house, a mob gathered outside. "Bring out the stranger so that we may have sex with him!" -the townspeople called out. For unknown reasons Lot sent his daughter instead, who unfortunately didn't survive. I may be mixing up 2 bible stories here.

So anyway Lot thought it prudent to take his family and leave, and shortly thereafter had sex with his 2 [surviving?] daughters. Is this perhaps a double standard? No, because god will approve of ANYTHING which will increase the flock. Ask Warren Jeffs.
1 / 5 (8) Oct 31, 2013
Yeah the cult based bullshit doesn't go over so easily these days...

"We who have been magically endowed as gods chosen ones, because we say so, are no longer as good at feeding you the crap we have made up to suit ourselves as we go along..."


Blame it on people watching other people fucking.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.