A must-read paragraph:
Importantly, religious youth have a stronger sense of themselves than less religious youth. In other words, among the less religious, religion is not supplanted by a stronger ascribed or achieved characteristic. In fact, less religious youth are less strongly identified with anything at all, which suggests that religious group involvement is mutually reinforcing with other identities. Or, that feeling connected to a religious community or tradition heightens all other aspects of self-understanding. Religious adherence, in other words, builds social capital not just in terms of participation in civic life (more below), but also in terms of connection with family, self-esteem, and self-understanding. As Christian Smith finds in his study of teenagers, religious youth rank higher than less religious youth on every measure of self-esteem.
For all those folks who wonder about the importance of religion in building societies, forging personal identities, and passing on crucial information from one generation to another, the above stands as a beacon. In my view, it is also a sharp retort to those who suggest that science has surpassed and supplanted religion.