Robbie Low, vicar of St. Peter’s, Bushey Heath (church of England), wrote a fascinating article in a 2003 issue of Touchstone. It dealt with a 1994 study in Switzerland on the question of whether a “person’s religion carried through to the next generation, and if so, why, or if not, why not.” The findings were staggering, but, upon consideration, they make sense:
There is one critical factor. It is overwhelming, and it is this: It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.
How big of an effect is it?
If a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). If a father goes but irregularly to church, regardless of his wife’s devotion, between a half and two-thirds of their offspring will find themselves coming to church regularly or occasionally.
A non-practicing mother with a regular father will see a minimum of two-thirds of her children ending up at church. In contrast, a non-practicing father with a regular mother will see two-thirds of his children never darken the church door. If his wife is similarly negligent that figure rises to 80 percent!
Mr. Low goes on to discuss how the feminization of the church in Europe led to a migration of men away from regular involvement and (consequently) massive loses in the next generation. Low notes, “You cannot feminize the church and keep the men, and you cannot keep the children if you do not keep the men.” Read the whole article.
HT: Gene Veith via JT