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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.

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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.

There are no specific instructions in the Bible on how to avoid a Beyoncé video or Scarlett Johansson's lips calling to you from You Tube, not to mention the ubiquitous porn sites.

For evangelicals, sex is a "symbolic boundary" marking a good Christian from a bad one, but in reality, the kids are always "sneaking across enemy lines," Regnerus argues. When evangelical parents say they talk to their kids about sex, they mean the morals, not the mechanics.

He spies a girl sitting at a table—blonde, wholesome-looking, just his type.

He sidles up closer to the girl, who is chatting with some friends.Regnerus' ultimate conclusion is not all that surprising.What really matters is not which religion teenagers identify with but how strongly they identify.As a result, abstinence pledgers are considerably less likely than nonpledgers to use birth control the first time they have sex."It just sort of happened," one girl told the researchers, in what could be a motto for this generation of evangelical teens.Over the din, he can make out snippets of her conversation: by Mark Regnerus, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin.

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