According to a new national survey, 95 per cent of young Irish people pray at some time. The perception that the youth of Ireland has abandoned religion is cast in doubt by the results of the study, to be published shortly in Doctrine and Life magazine. Just eight per cent of people between the ages of 20 and 35 said they had no experience of God. Four per cent said they felt God had not influenced their lives. Seven per cent said they had no relationship with God and five per cent said they never prayed. Three per cent said they thought there was no life after death, while 62 per cent were sure there is an afterlife. Most said they believed morality was more than just obeying laws or church teachings. 87 per cent said moral behaviour was a matter of being true to oneself. 70 per cent said they thought sin was about hurting others rather than about breaking laws. Out of a list of 28 - child abuse, verbal and physical abuse within a relationship and abortion - were voted the most immoral types of behaviour. Casual sex, missing Sunday Mass or living with someone you planned to marry were considered the least immoral. Just four per cent thought sex should only take place within marriage. 45 per cent said it meant total commitment for them, while 26 per cent saw it as a sign of a close friendship. 75 per cent felt marriage should be for life. In an interview published in the Irish Independent yesterday, school chaplain Fr John Callanan SJ said the young people he worked with were usually bored by traditional religion lessons. "In contrast, anything on video, provided it was well-chosen and snappy, was likely to keep the crowd transfixed." While regular classes are met with boredom, he said young people were very excited about faith in action. Activities such as organising projects for the Third World, or holding a 24 hour fast were very popular. He said if he mentioned he was organising a hospital visit, volunteers would "appear out of the woodwork." Young people take part in things which have meaning for them, he said. Fr Callanan concluded that there was an old saying: "It's a poor shopkeeper who blames the customer because they aren't buying the products he has laid out for them. "We in the Church might have something to learn from it."
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