They tend to lose their virginity at a slightly younger age—16.3, compared with 16.7 for the other two faiths.And they are much more likely to have had three or more sexual partners by age 17: Regnerus reports that 13.7 percent of evangelicals have, compared with 8.9 percent for mainline Protestants. Because of the explosion of megachurches, vast numbers of people who don't identify with mainstream denominations now call themselves evangelical.But among this elite corps of evangelicals, the women are breezing around in what one girl I know called "shockingly slutty conservative outfits" while the men hold their tongues. Masturbation is strongly discouraged in the literature because it promotes selfish, lustful behavior.) So, where does that leave our Romeo, still scanning the bar for a date?
Teenagers who identify as "evangelical" or "born again" are highly likely to sound like the girl at the bar; 80 percent think sex should be saved for marriage. Evangelical teens are actually likely to have lost their virginity than either mainline Protestants or Catholics.
Regnerus goes to some length to justify his unusual pairing of subjects.
Most researchers of youth behavior tend to ignore the influence of religion, he argues, and instead focus on other factors—parental input, peer pressure, race, or socioeconomic status.
The demographic includes more teenagers of a lower socioeconomic class, who are more likely to have had sex at a younger age.
It also includes African-American Protestant teenagers, who are vastly more likely to be sexually active.