Young Catholic America

Young Catholic America: Emerging Adults In, Out of and Gone from the Church offers a unique and in-depth look into the viewpoints of young Catholics over a period of ten years, from their teens into their early twenties.

Studies of young American Catholics over the last three decades suggest a growing crisis in the Catholic Church: compared to their elders, young Catholics are looking to the Church less as they form their identities and fewer of them can explain what it means to be Catholic and why that matters, Longest said.

Young Catholic America, the latest book based on the groundbreaking National Study of Youth and Religion, explores a crucial stage in the life of Catholics. Drawing on in-depth surveys and interviews of Catholics and ex-Catholics ages 18 to 23—a demographic commonly known as early “emerging adulthood”—Longest and his colleagues, Christian Smith, Jonathan Hill, and Kari Christoffersen, offer insight into the wide variety of religious practices and beliefs among young Catholics today, the early influences and life-altering events that lead them to embrace the Church or abandon it, and how being Catholic affects them as they become full-fledged adults.  It also offers insight into the twentieth-century events that helped to shape the Church and its members in America.

“Whether you’re Catholic or not, the book is something that will appeal to anyone interested in the future of the Catholic Church,” Longest said.

Young Catholic America (Oxford University Press) is the companion to the 2009 book, Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults, by Christian Smith and includes a chapter by Longest.

Longest joined the Furman faculty in 2009. His research centers on understanding how teens make the transition out of high school, focusing on substance use, religion and academic behaviors. He completed his undergraduate degree in history and sociology at Indiana University and earned his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill.