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Looking for signs of the presence of God in Northern Ireland: religious experience among Catholic and Protestant sixth-form pupils

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A sample of 2,359 sixth-form pupils (between the ages of 16 and 18 years) in Northern Ireland (1,093 attending seven Protestant schools and 1,266 attending nine Catholic schools) responded in 1998 to Greer's classic question 'Have you ever had an experience of God, for example, his presence or his help or anything else?' Religious experience was reported by 29% of Protestant males, 29% of Catholic males, 39% of Protestant females and 38% of Catholic females. Compared with earlier data these figures reveal a particularly marked decline in reported religious experience among Catholic females (64% in 1981, 56% in 1984, 61% in 1992 and 38% in 1998). The content of the reported religious experience is analysed and illustrated within nine descriptive categories characterised as: help and guidance, exams, God's presence, answered prayer, death, sickness, conversion, difficulty in describing, and miscellaneous.


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