Fashion ‘bible’ eyes teens’ faith

By on December 1, 2004

“What’s new in your religion?” “Is something new and exciting happening in your place of worship or religious community?” “How do you celebrate your faith?”

It is not your local church posing these questions to the youth but a most unlikely source: Seventeen, the young women’s magazine often called the “girls’ fashion bible.”

For the first time since its publication in 1944, Seventeen — the most popular magazine targeted at the 12-24 age group — introduced in September a section on faith and spirituality.

“I just noticed more and more our readers were talking about their faith,” said Atoosa Rubenstein, Seventeen editor, in an interview with Associated Press (AP). Ms. Rubenstein, who is Muslim, proposed a section on religion when she was founding editor of CosmoGirl magazine but her colleagues had told her that “a fashion magazine was no place for God,” AP said.

In recent market research studies in the United States, 58 per cent of teens ranked faith as among the most important parts of their life.

Guiding Ms. Rubenstein in organizing the faith section is an inter-faith advisory board that includes Canadian Irshad Manji, author of The Trouble With Islam, an evangelical Christian preacher, a Roman Catholic priest, a Buddhist teacher, a Reform rabbi, an Episcopal (Anglican) youth minister and two Muslims.

The result has been articles ranging from the sharing of rituals and practices that express spiritual beliefs to how religion intersects with politics and everyday life. The November issue looked into how a decision by a city council in Hamtramck, Mich., allowing a local mosque to broadcast its call to prayer over an outdoor loudspeaker has divided the town.

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