CosmoGirl! as a Religious Guide? Hardly

CosmoGirl! is a great resource to find out which lip gloss looks best with your prom dress, but it fails miserably as a religious guide.

In the May 2008 article “Religion by Design,” author Marina Khidekel does not give any indication that she understands the essence of religion: the acknowledgement of a Being greater than the individual, the community, and any earthly concern, who revealed His will to humanity in holy books. 

Instead, Khidekel reduces religion to personal preference, endorsing the phenomenon of teens moving away from the organized religion of their families and creating their own belief systems by picking bits from various religions and philosophies, whatever makes them feel good.


Dubbed “Starbucks spirituality,” these mix-and-match beliefs could contain “a shot of Catholicism, a sprinkle of Buddhism, a pinch of Hindu teachings – or whatever else [teens] are in the mood for that day.”

Lynn Schofield Clark, a sociologist and professor at the University of Denver, told Khidekel that people “are disenchanted with organized religion, but they're not ready to distance themselves from religious experiences.  They still want to be able to transcend the concerns of everyday life.”   

Jenn, 18, summed up the whole idea of mix-and-match religion when she stated, “I'm into both Wiccan and Buddhist philosophies, but I'm also reading the Bible.  I feel like I'll always be discovering what beliefs are right for me [emphasis added].” 

Khidekel concludes, “In the end it doesn't matter how you work through the questions that life prompts – the fact that you are searching is a healthy sign.  Everyone needs to feel empowered to explore whatever makes them feel happy, peaceful, and connected, whether it's in a place of worship or elsewhere.” 

Most religions seek to find favor with a deity in a heaven, not necessarily happiness here on earth.  So how can mix-and-match religion be a religion at all if the basic principle is “be happy?” 

And no liberal media article on religion is complete without attacks on Christianity.  

Three of the six teens quoted by Khidekel were once Christian but are now currently dabbling in other religions like Judaism and shamanism, or Eastern mystical beliefs such as feng shui and karma.  Khidekel also included a barb against Christianity's stance on homosexuality.  Charlotte, 16, told Khidekel she “used to be a Christian” but stopped attending church when she found herself “so offended by how judgmental [her] church could be” on the issue of homosexuality.

Only one teen supported the idea of organized religion, telling Khidekel that her Jewish faith “has given [her her] values and defines a lot of who [she is].” Khidekel apparently could not find any non-Christian teens who decided to embrace Christian principles or Christian teens who are proud to be Christians.  

Perhaps CosmoGirl! should stick to the articles on lip gloss.  On fashion and beauty, the magazine is a reliable source.   

Colleen Raezler is a research assistant at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center