Parents Set the Pace for Their Adult Children’s Religious Life: “Handing Down the Faith” shows a vast majority of Americans don’t choose their religious beliefs. They inherit them.

Why are parents the most important figures shaping the religious lives and futures of their children in the United States? The primary and powerful role of parents in religious socialization may seem obvious to readers today. But that is because we are familiar with our current system, not because it is historically normal or inevitable.

Some older readers may remember times and religious subcultures that worked differently. People from other eras and places in history and the world could also tell about different means of religious transmission across generations.

Parents define for their children the role that religious faith and practice ought to play in life, whether important or not, which most children roughly adopt. Parents set a “glass ceiling” of religious commitment above which their children rarely rise. Parental religious investment and involvement is in almost all cases the necessary and even sometimes sufficient condition for children’s religious investment and involvement.

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Source: Christianity Today