Maya Mineoi

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Youth receive conflicting and often unrealistic messages about body-image, health, sexuality, bullying and self-worth from both the mainstream media (i.e. TV, film) and their religious institutions. In attempting to negotiate between these extreme messages, individuals are further challenged because these two institutions do not typically positivity interact in the construction of self identity. Thus, when religious institutions surrender to the media on issues of moral concerns, individuals are left with cognitive dissonance and often respond by avoiding either the media or their faith. Moreover, when Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) leaders allow media to be the sole source of dialogue about teen-centered moral concerns, they are depriving youth of the self-affirming messages that are specific to the Christian narrative. My research project aims to equip adult mentors of the ELCA with tools to empower young people to analyze critically religious and media sources and to form their own attitudes about morality. In order to do so, the project has been divided in to three parts. Part one provides a review of the literature on media literacy, Christian education and adolescent formation studies. This research reinforces the need for Christian youth groups to facilitate discussions on how the media portrays personal values, faith and the world. Part two examines Wave 1 and 2 of The National Study of Youth and Religion to uncover the role of the media in shaping youth identity. The results suggest the need to reform religious practices in order to respond to the specific needs of youth. Part three focuses on in-depth interviews with ELCA youth groups and adult leaders. The goal is to present a synthesis of the research results to the ELCA with the aim of highlighting the strengths and the wealth of existing resources for media literacy conversations in faith-based settings.


Community Partner: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Director of Young Adult Ministry