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Report Reveals That Children Inherit Their Parents’ Faith and Political Ideas

The religious and political affiliation of young people with their parents lasts longer among Protestants.

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Rafael Manuel Tovar

(ZENIT News / Mexico City, 05.30.2023).- American adolescents and their parents have much in common when it comes to religion and politics, somewhat less than what their parents thought, reveals a survey of the Pew Research Center, carried out in March and April of 2019.  Last fall, another survey showed that parents have a great interest in transmitting their religious and political vision to their children.

The majority of parents and adolescents share religious identity. Americans between the ages of 13 and 17 have the same faith as their parents or legal tutors. Teenagers with Protestant parents  identify with their parents’ religion as do Catholic teenagers with that of theirs. The great majority of parents without religious affiliation have atheist or agnostic adolescents or children who don’t believe “in anything in particular,” according to studies carried out by the Pew Research Center in 2015.

A Pew survey in 2022 showed that the majority of parents transmit their religious and political orientation in the same proportion and impact. 

It seems that parents give priority to the transmission of their religious vision above that of their political view. However, the 2022 survey showed that 35% of American parents considered it highly important  that their children share their faith, and only 16% gave that much importance to the political. View. Nevertheless, they regarded these two values as more decisive than transmitting honesty, dedication to work or personal success. 

In 2019 adolescents were interviewed together with one of their parents. One way of answering a question was to contrast teenagers’ answers with that of their parents. When comparing them, it was found that the majority of people who are raised in one religion, be it by both parents or only one of them, keep that religion. Eight out of ten of those raised Protestant continued to be Protestant. Six out of ten Catholics continued to be Catholics in adolescence and a similar proportion existed in those who were raised without religious affiliation and lacked a defined faith. 

People of some religious beliefs give strong priority to educating their children in the same faith: 70% of Evangelical parents placed extreme value on their children having a similar faith, as compared with only 8% of parents with no faith. 

The survey reveals that the step from interest to the result in American parents, on the transmission of their religious and political affiliation to their children, is that the great majority obtain the political loyalty of the teenagers. The transmission of religion is also effective, as the 2019 survey showed that 82% of Protestant parents had teenagers with the same faith; 81% of Catholic parents had Catholic adolescents and 86% of parents without faith had teenage children with no faith. 

The comparison of achievement in the transmission of the faith between Protestants and Catholics had a similar result, at least up to 17 years of age, although Evangelicals give more importance to transmitting the faith.

It’s known that many people change their faith or abandon religion altogether between the age of 18 to 29. To measure the transmission of religion, the results were compared between the 2022 survey and that of 2015. Observed was that there was greater abandonment in 25% of Americans adults educated in inter-religious homes. Among those raised by one Protestant parent and the other unaffiliated, the Protestant identity was strong, as 56% identified as Protestant once the years passed, whereas 34% were not affiliated, 3% Catholic and 7% belonged to other religions.

Among those raised by one Catholic parent and the other non-affiliated, 42% were not affiliated in adulthood,  32% were Catholic, 20% Protestant and 5% changed their religion.

Those educated by one Protestant parent and the other Catholic, as adults 38% declared themselves Protestant, 29% Catholic, 26% without affiliation and 7% belonged to other religions. 

There are marked differences between the broad category of Protestants. Eight out of ten parents that belong to an Evangelical Confession have a teenager who also identifies himself as an Evangelical Protestant. 55% of traditional Protestants of the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church have an adolescent with the same identification and 24% of adolescents didn’t share their parents’ faith.

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