HIV and AIDS are rapidly spreading amongst the world’s 15- to 24-year age group, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite vigorous government interventions and campaigns, 10 % of South African youth in the age cohort 15–24 are infected with HIV and AIDS. Furthermore, for the first time in history the world has its largest number of individuals under the age of 30 years. Researchers are desperately seeking a solution and have found religion to play an important role in moderating risky sexual behaviour amongst youth. This exploratory qualitative study aims to increase our understanding of emerging adult Further Education and Training (FET) students’ perceptions of the role of religion and religious beliefs in their sexual decision-making and practices. The qualitative data emerged from five focus group discussions, each consisting of 12 heterosexual emerging adult FET college students aged 18–24 years, selected using random sampling. Participants were representative of all the major South African racial groups (Blacks, Whites, Coloured and Indians) as well as different religious and cultural groupings. Secularisation theory was used as a theoretical framework for this study. These focus group discussions revealed the following themes: Theme 1—religious institutions need to embrace change in order to become effective social agents of change. Theme 2—a need for open discussion and communication concerning current issues related to young people’s sexual health (by religious institutions/religious leaders). Theme 3—perceptions of religion’s negative sanctions towards sexual behaviour. Theme 4—religious leaders’ indifference and abdication of responsibility to the problems that youth face. Theme 5—religion and condom-related beliefs. Theme 6—perceptions of religious leaders as role models. Theme 7—emerging adults general concern for the moral decay of society. Theme 8—perceptions of whether religion has an influence on young people’s sexual decision-making and practices.
Adamczyk, A., & Hayes, B. E. (2012). Religion and sexual behaviors: Understanding the influence of Islamic cultures and religious affiliation for explaining sex outside of marriage. American Sociological Review, 77(5), 723–746. CrossRef
Aguwa, J. (2010). Religion and HIV/AIDS prevention in Nigeria. Social Sciences Education, 60(2), 208–223.
Arnett, J. J. (1997). Young people s’ conceptions of the transition to adulthood. Youth and Society, 29, 1–23. CrossRef
Arnett, J. J. (2000). Emerging adulthood: A theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. American Psychology, 1(55), 469–480. CrossRef
Arnett, J. J., & Jensen, L. A. (2002). A congregation of one: Individualized religious beliefs among emerging adults. Journal of Adolescent Research, 17(5), 451–467. CrossRef
Bankole, A., Ahmed, F. H., Neema, S., Ouedraogo, C., & Konyani, S. (2007). Knowledge of correct condom use and consistency of the use among adolescents in four countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Journal of Reproductive Health, 11(3), 197–220. CrossRef
Baptiste, I. (2001). Qualitative data analysis: Common phases, strategic differences. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 2(3), 5–18.
Barry, C., & Nelson, L. J. (2005). The role of religion in the transition to adulthood for young emerging adults. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 34(3), 245–255. CrossRef
Barry, C., & Nelson, L. (2008). The role of religious beliefs and practices on emerging adults’ perceived competencies, perceived importance ratings, and global self-worth. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 32(6), 509–521. CrossRef
Beaudoin, T. M. (1998). Virtual faith: The irreverent spiritual quest of Generation X. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Beckmann, N. (2009). AIDS and the power of God: Narratives of decline and coping strategies in Zanzibar. In F. Becker & P. W. Geissler (Eds.), AIDS and religious practice in Africa. Leiden: Brill.
Berger, P. L. (1967). The sacred canopy: Elements of a sociology of religion. New York: Doubleday.
Boonstra, H. D. (2011). Advancing sexuality education in developing countries: Evidence and implications. Guttmatcher Policy Review, 14(3), 17–23.
Bruce, S. (2002). God is dead: Secularization in the West. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
Casanova, J. (1994). Public religions in the modern world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Chaves, M. (1994). Secularization as declining religious authority. Social Forces, 72(3), 749–774. CrossRef
Crabtree, V. (2012). Anti- religious forces: Specific factors fuelling secularization. http://www.humanreligions.info/forces.html. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
Dobbelaere, K. (2002). Secularization: An analysis on three levels. Brussels: European Interuniversity Press.
Eriksson, E., Landmark, G., Axemo, P., Haddad, B., & Alberg, B. M. (2011). Faith, premarital sex and relationships: Are church messages in accordance with perceived youth realities? A qualitative study in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. Journal of Religion and Health. doi: 10.1007/s10943-011-9491-7.
Fehring, R. J., Cheever, K. H., German, K., & Philpot, C. (1998). Religiosity and sexual activity among older adolescents. Journal of Religion and Health, 37(3), 229–247. CrossRef
Ferreira, S. L. (2002). The design, implementation and evaluation of student support and development services in further education and training colleges in South Africa. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of the Western Cape, South Africa.
Foster, G., Mwase-Kasanda, C., Maswere, E., & Winberg, C. (2009). A purpose- driven response: Building united action on HIV/AIDS for the church in Mozambique. Paper presented at the African Religious Health Assets (ARHAP) conference, 13–16 July, Cape Town, South Africa.
Froese, P. D. (2009). The plot to kill God: Findings from the Soviet experiment in secularization. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Gall, M. D., Borg, W. R., & Gall, J. P. (1996). Educational research (6th ed.). White Plains, NY: Longman Publishers.
Glasner, P. (1977). The sociology of secularisation. London: Routledge.
Greeley, A. M. (1991). Religion and attitudes towards AIDS policy. Sociology and Social Research, 75, 126–132. PubMed
Greene, A. L., Wheatley, S. M., & Aldava, J. F., IV. (1992). Stages on life’s way: Adolescents’ implicit theories of the life course. Journal of Adolescent Research, 7, 364–381. CrossRef
Higher Education HIV/AIDS Programmes HEAIDS, 2009. (2010). HIV prevalence and related factors. South African Department of Education, undertaken on behalf of the Department of Higher Education South Africa (HESA).
Horn, J. (2010). Christian fundamentalisms and women’s rights in the African context: Mapping the terrain. http://www.awid.org/eng/About-AWID/AWIDInitiatives/Resisting-and-Challenging-Religious-Fundamentalisms/CF-Case_Studies. Accessed January 19, 2014.
Kardas-Nelson, M. (2009). Catholics, condoms and confusion. http://www.mg.co.za/article/2009-03-27-catholics-condoms-and-confusion. Accessed July 29, 2015.
Krakauer, M., & Newbery, J. (2007). Churches’ responses to HIV/AIDS in two South African communities. Journal of International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, 6, 27–35. CrossRef
Leclerc-Madladla, S. (2005). Masculinity and AIDS in KwaZulu-Natal: A treatise. Journal of African Humanities, 2, 499–506.
Lengwe, J. (2009). Listening and talking as HIV prevention: A new approach to HIV and AIDS campaigns at the three universities in Kwazulu- Natal (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Madsen, E. L., Daumerie, B., & Hardee, K. (2010). The effects of age structure on development. Policy and Issue Brief. Washington, DC: Population Action International.
Mantell, J. E., Correale, J., Adams-Skinner, A., & Stein, Z. A. (2011). Conflicts between conservative Christian institutions and secular groups in sub-Saharan Africa: Ideological discourses on sexualities, reproduction and HIV/AIDS. Journal of Global Public Health, 6(2), 92–209. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2011.604039.
Marston, C., & King, E. (2006). Factors that shape young people’s sexual behaviour: A systematic review. The Lancet, 368, 1581–1586. CrossRef
Martin, D. (2011). The future of Christianity: Reflections on violence and democracy, religion and secularization. Surrey: Ashgate.
Marx, K. (1964). Selected writings in sociology and social philosophy (T. Bottomore, Trans.). London: McGraw-Hill.
Mash, R., & Mash, R. J. (2012). A quasi experimental evaluation of an HIV prevention programme in the Anglican church of the Western Cape, South Africa. Bio Medical Journal Open, 2, e000638. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000638.
Moodley, C. G. (2010). HIV/AIDS- related knowledge and behaviour of FET college students: Implications for sexual health promotion (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of the Western Cape.
Mutinta, G., & Govender, K. (2012). The socio-environmental determinants of students’ sexual risk behaviour and HIV prevention at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Journal of Human Ecology, 38(1), 17–29.
National HIV & AIDS and STI Strategic Plan for South Africa 2007–2011. Draft 9 (NSP, 2007–2011, 2007).
Norris, P., & Inglehart, R. (2004). Sacred and secular: Religion and politics worldwide. New York: Cambridge University Press. CrossRef
Oluduro, O. (2010). The role of religious leaders in curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. Per/Pelj, 13(3), 208–232.
Pargament, K. I. (1997). The psychology of religion and coping: Theory, research, practice. New York: Guilford Press.
Paterson, G. (Ed.). (2009). HIV prevention: A global theological conversation. Geneva: Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.
Pickel, G. (2011). Contextual secularization. Theoretical thoughts and empirical implications. Religion and Society in Central and Eastern Europe, 4(1), 3–20.
Planned Parenthood Association: Western Cape (PPASA). (2004). FET colleges: Baseline needs assessment: Final report. Compiler Karen Webber.
Pluhar, E. I., Frongillo, E. A., Stycos, J. M., & Dempster-McClain, D. (2003). Changes over time in college students’ family planning knowledge, preference, and behavior and implications for contraceptive education and prevention of sexually transmitted infections. College Student Journal, 37, 420–434.
Regnerus, M. D. (2003). Religion and positive adolescent outcomes: A review of research and theory. Review of Religious Research, 44(4), 394–413. CrossRef
Regnerus, M. D., & Uecker, J. E. (2007). Religious influences on sensitive self- reported behaviors: The product of social desirability, deceit, or embarrassment? Journal of Sociology of Religion, 68, 145–163. CrossRef
Ricardo, C., Nascimento, M., Fonseca, V., & Segundo, M. (2010). Programme H and Programme M: Engaging young men and empowering young women to promote gender equality and health. Washington, DC: Pan American Health Organisation.
Shiner, L. (1967). The concept of secularization in empirical research. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 6, 207–220. CrossRef
Shuster, M., & Mongetta, J. (2009). The influence of a small Christian university’s culture on selected characteristics of emerging adulthood. Journal of Research on Christian Education, 18, 206–234. CrossRef
Sinha, S., Curtis, K., Jayakody, A., Viner, R., & Roberts, H. (2006). Family and peer networks in intimate and sexual relationships amongst teenagers in a multicultural area of East London. Sociological Research Online, 11(1). http://www.socresonline.org.uk/11/1/sinha.html.
Smith, C. (2003a). The secular revolution: Power, interests, and conflict in the secularization of American public life. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. CrossRef
Smith, D. J. (2003b). Youth, sin and sex. Christianity and HIV/AIDS related beliefs and behaviours among rural–urban migrants. Culture, Health and Sexuality, 6(5), 425–437. CrossRef
Sommerville, C. J. (1998). Secular society religious population: Our tacit rules for using the term secularization. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 37(2), 249–253. CrossRef
Spickard, J. V. (2003). What is happening to religion? Six Sociological. Nordic Journal of Religion and Society, 19(1), 13–28.
Tiendrebeogo, G., & Buykx, M. (2004). Faith- based organisations and HIV/AIDS prevention and impact mitigation in Africa. Bulletin no. 361, Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen (KIT) [Royal Tropical Institute], Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
United Nations & AIDS (UNAIDS). (2009). Report on the global AIDS epidemic. Geneva: UNAIDS.
United Nations & AIDS (UNAIDS). (2012). World AIDS day report 2012. Geneva: UNAIDS.
United Nations & AIDS (UNAIDS). (2013). Report on the global AIDS epidemic 2013. Geneva: UNAIDS.
van den Toren, B. (2003). Secularisation in Africa: A challenge for churches. Africa Journal of Evangelical Theology, 22(1), 3–30.
Van Dijk, R. (2009). Gloves in times of AIDS: Pentecostalism, hair and social distancing in Botswana. In F. Becker & P. W. Geissler (Eds.), AIDS and religious practice in Africa. Leiden: Brill.
Vorster, J. M. (2007). Analytical perspectives on religious fundamentalism. Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, 6(17), 5–20.
Western Cape Education Department (WCED). (2006). The human capital development strategy for the Western Cape: A focus on youth. Cape Town: Western Cape Education Department.
World Council of Churches. (2002). Facing AIDS: The challenge, the churches’ response. A WCC study document. Geneva: WCC Publications.
Yamane, D. (1997). Secularization on trial: In defense of a neosecularization paradigm. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 36(1), 109–122. CrossRef
Zoll, R. (2004). Faith and religion find their way onto pages of teenage magazines. New York: Associated Press.
- Perceptions of South African Emerging Adult FET College Students on Sexual Practices in Relation to Religion
Colleen Gail Moodley
- Springer US