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All Christians are puritanical, sinister prats, say TV teens.

SCOTS teenagers perceive Christians as puritan at best and, at worst, sinister, says a new academic study.

Many base their views of religion on how it is portrayed in TV soaps and form stereotypical images of Christians.

The findings, presented to the conference yesterday, come from a study by Ailsa Tomkinson, a visiting lecturer at Edinburgh's Queen Margaret College University.

Interviews with Scottish adolescents aged 12 to 16 revealed that many teenagers' only exposure to Christians is through television.

When Christians appear on popular soaps such as Home and Away, EastEnders and Dawson's Creek, younger audiences tend to view them as either sinister, perverts or prats.

The survey found adolescents are particularly critical of any kind of evangelical behaviour and regard any religious group which does not meet in a traditional church building as a cult.

If the group has a young male leader, who is not a priest or a minister, they automatically assume he will take sexual advantage of young female members.

Tomkinson said the view of Christians as "prats" was reinforced by Father Ted.

She said: "Any kind of evangelical behaviour, no matter how kindly it was meant, was seen in some way as weird or sinister."

They feared Sarah Hills, the prim, goody two-shoes character from EastEnders, was in danger of being sexually abused when she went to a local fundamental Christian group.

And Ty, a Christian from Dawson's Creek was seen as "spooky" because he took his girlfriend on a first date to a bible class.

Ms Tomkinson said: "They thought there was something very strange and sinister about young girls being taken to bible class."
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 22, 1999
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