Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down Across Generations

ISBN : 9780199948659

Vern L. Bengtson
288 Pages
163 x 237 mm
Pub date
Mar 2014
Send mail

Few things are more likely to cause heartache to devout parents than seeing their child leave the faith. And it seems, from media portrayals, that this is happening more and more frequently. But is religious change between generations common? How does religion get passed down from one generation to the next? Why do some families maintain one faith while others do not? What factors are likely to push people away from their childhood faith? What role does the particular faith play? The family? The wider society? Does atheism get passed down as well? In Families and Faith, Vern Bengtson seeks to answer these questions and more by drawing on an extraordinary study, conducted over more than four decades, of more than 350 families composed of more than 2400 people whose lives span more than a century: the oldest was born in 1881, the youngest in 1988. Bengtson argues that a child is actually more likely to remain within the fold than to leave it, and, more surprisingly, that parents' influence has remained relatively stable since the early 1970s. Even the nonreligious, in fact, are much more likely to be following their parents than rebelling against them. And while outside social forces play a role, the most important factor in whether a child keeps the faith is the presence of a strong fatherly bond. Armed with this unprecedented data, Bengtson offers remarkable insight into American religion over the course of several decades.


Part 1: The Emerging Religious Landscape
1. Families and the Transmission of Religion
2. Trends in Spirituality and Religion Across Seven Generations
3. Intergenerational Transmission of Religion, 1970 and 2005
Part 2: Family Ties and Religious Transmission
4. The Quality of Parent-Child Relationships
5. Grandparents and Great-Grandparents
6. Marriage and Divorce
Part 3: Factors in Leaving and Staying
7. Religious Rebels, Zealots, and Prodigals
8. The "Nones": Intergenerational Transmission of Nonreligion
9. Tight-Knit Religious Communities: Mormons, Jews, and Evangelicals
10. Summing it Up: Families and Faith across Generations

About the author: 

VLB: AARP/University Chair in Gerontology and Professor of Sociology, University of Southern California; NMP: Project Director, Transmission of Religion Across Generations project, University of Southern California; SH: Research Adjunct Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Southern California

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.