Religious engagement and attitudes to the role of religion in society
Their effect on civic and social values in an Asian context
This paper explored the impact of religious engagement (religious background, religious service attendance and religious activities participation) on adolescents’ civic and social values. Attitudes towards the influence of religion on society were investigated as a possible mediator/moderator of religious engagement. A model based on Western literature was tested using a sample of over 2000 Hong Kong students. Secondary data were drawn from the International Civics and Citizenship Education Study 2009. Multi-level modelling was used to assess individual and school level effects on civic and social values. Results indicated that religious engagement exerted varied effects. Religious background showed small and negative effects on students’ civic and social values. Participation in religious services indicated a small, positive and significant effect on social but not on civic values. Participation in religious activities showed no significant effect on either social or civic values. These variables exerted a small moderating effect on social and civic values through attitudes to the influence of religion on society. The latter exerted a positive and significant effect on civic values and a negative effect on social values. These results suggested that Western models depicting the positive relationship between religious engagement and citizenship values may not hold for Asian societies.