Religion Runs in the Family (article)
I’m more than troubled by all these articles on Christian sites that worry endlessly about why 20 somethings are leaving church, how and why some kids stay in the faith, why do some leave.
Then we get articles like this, that discuss how some families maintain faith over the generations, or what to do if your kid doesn’t want to go to church or whatever:
(Link): Religion Runs in the Family
I am not saying it is wrong for Christian parents to teach their children about Jesus and to take them to church.
What I am saying, though, is that I see this never ending worry wart-ism, concern, and attention being paid on children and college students and why they do or don’t go to church or reject the faith as an outcome of the Idolization of Marriage / Nuclear Family / Children. It’s another facet of traditional family idolization, as far as I am concerned.
I do not see any articles discussing the large number of middle aged Christians who left the church the last ten years.
Christians and their Christian magazine writers don’t seem to give a rat’s ass about older people needing the Gospel, or about Christians over the age of 30 walking away from church.
On and on they go with how to make children’s ministries more attractive, how to make church more appealing to hold on to Joe Cool College Student, they ponder and ponder about why youth does not find Christianity appealing. When does it end?
When does concern for older adults come into play?
When do churches start addressing the needs, problems, and particular issues of never married adults over 30 years old?
(Link): Religion Runs in the Family
- Your research on faith and families began in 1970. Are parents today more or less influential in passing on their faith?
Surprisingly, about the same. Our study tracked the degree of religious similarity between parents and young adult children in 1970 with that of young adults and parents in 2005.
We measured this degree of similarity in four dimensions of religiosity: intensity of faith, frequency of religious service attendance, agreement with a literal interpretation of the Bible, and agreement with the importance of religion in civic life.
Despite the many societal changes that have lurched us towards greater individualism and away from a more collective family focus, over half of young adult children are following in their parents’ footsteps, in that they are affiliated with the parents’ religious tradition.
(To a lesser extent, their religious practices and beliefs also align with those of their parents).
This number is the same now as it was in the 1970s.
In today’s culture, one that often disparages family continuity and assumes that families are not doing a good job, our research reflects a basic resiliency in American families over generations. Good news for the church.
However, quite unexpectedly and unique to our modern times, we found that many religious “nones” (the almost 30% of Americans between the ages of 18-40 who say they have no religious affiliation) have also been successful in passing on their faith. These kids are not rebelling from their parents, but instead following their parents’ influence in having no religious affiliation.
Looking back on your research on faith and families, how has it impacted your own religious journey?
I was born into a highly religious family with a tradition of devotion that goes back to at least the 16th century. My father was a pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church, and I have fond memories of reading his subscription to Christianity Today as a teenager.
I’ve spent my entire life wondering why some families are successful in passing on their faith while others are not. Despite my strong religious heritage, I consider myself a religious prodigal. For many years, my own mother worried that she would not see me in heaven.
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