New research might bring some encouragement and inspiration to Christian parents looking to pass on biblical values to their children amid an increasingly chaotic society.
Despite the mounting secularization in culture and the generational replacement that yields less faithful cohorts as time progresses, it seems religious conservatives are among the best at passing on their faith.
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A new study titled, “Transmission of Faith in Families: The Influence of Religious Ideology” from Jesse Smith that was published last fall in “Sociology of Religion,” an academic journal, offered an in-depth exploration of the issue.
“The primary finding is that religious transmission is stronger among children of religious conservatives than for any other group, while the other groups do not differ significantly from one another,” Smith wrote in the abstract.
He continued, “These differences in transmission are largely explained by religious conservative parenting approaches, congregational involvement, and most importantly, more intensive religious socialization.”
The author further explored his findings in an article for the Institute for Family Studies, noting that the kids of religious conservatives have a 19% chance of going to weekly church services, compared to 15% for kids from liberal or moderate families.
While the differences aren’t monumental, they’re certainly notable.
Furthermore, Smith wrote that “an estimated 43% of the children of religious conservatives report no worship attendance at all in young adulthood, compared to 52% for everyone else.”
The data points don’t end there either, as kids from conservative religious families are also more likely as young adults to say faith is “extremely important” to them. One-fourth of this cohort stressed the importance of faith compared to less than a fifth of young adults in other groups.
“Children of religious conservatives are more likely to match the religiosity of their parents, and when they stray, they tend not to stray as far,” Smith noted.
Still, challenges abound. Religious conservatives might fare better than others but cultural trends are still pressing in on individuals and families of all religious and nonreligious stripes, and, in the process, recasting hearts and minds to sway away from the gospel.
National surveys show the rise of the “nones” — individuals who describe themselves as atheistic, agnostic, or who have no religious affiliation. The majority of this cohort falls in the latter category, but with such rising numbers in this camp, socializing children in the Christian faith and making it a daily part of life seems to be key.
Twenty-nine percent of Americans report having “no religion,” down from just 16% in 2007, according to the Pew Research Center. Regardless, hope still abounds, and being devout as parents is key.
Proverbs 22:6 (NIV) proclaims, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” It seems this eternal truth is now emerging in research into the matter.
Read more about Smith’s research here.
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