Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day: Swiss study shows father's role crucial in children's faith

A barely-noticed but large and important study conducted by the Swiss government in 1994 and published in 2000 revealed some astonishing facts about the generational transmission of religious faith and values:
  • When the father and mother attend church regularly, 33% of their children end up as regular churchgoers.
  • When the mother attends regularly but the father is non-practicing, only 2% of their children become regular churchgoers.
  • When the father attends regularly but the mother is non-practicing, 44% of the children become regular churchgoers.
Why? Hard to say. Particularly, why is the result for regular churchgoing children higher when the mother alone is non-practicing than when both father and mother are practicing? Again, hard to say. What is clear is that the roles of fathers in their children's faith-formation is critical.

(The full title of the Swiss study is: “The Demographic Characteristics of the Linguistic and Religious Groups in Switzerland” [beginning on p. 113] by Werner Haug and Phillipe Warner of the Federal Statistical Office, Neuchatel. The study appears in Volume 2 of Population Studies No. 31, a book titled The Demographic Characteristics of National Minorities in Certain European States, edited by Werner Haug and others, published by the Council of Europe Directorate General III, Social Cohesion, Strasbourg, January 2000.)


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