UK Parents Fear Passing Religion to Children Will Make Them Outcasts, Study Finds
A new study in the U.K. has revealed that a growing number of parents are fearful of passing on their religious beliefs to their children, worried that they won't be accepted in school and will be alienated by their peers.
The Telegraph reports that the ComRes research study, which was commissioned by the religious and social affairs think tank Theos, found that as many as one in four, or 23 percent of respondents, said they are worried their children might be sidelined by their friends if they were to find out about their faith.
The survey, which queried 1,013 parents, 458 of whom said they were Christian, 113 from other religions, and 423 of no religious faith, also revealed that 26 percent of these parents were afraid that their children "may have questions I could not answer."
Furthermore, 34 percent of parents were worried that things such as social media were having a greater impact on their children's beliefs than their own input.
A little over half of those who responded to the poll said they would be comfortable talking with their offspring about faith, but only around 40 percent said they had spoken with their children about religion.
"Parents do have the greatest influence on their children's faith, not least through the integrity and authenticity of their own beliefs," said Nick Spencer, head of research at Theos.
"That noted, just calling yourself Christian makes little difference here; the more serious parents take their own faith, the more concerned they are to want to pass it on."
There has been a well documented sharp religious decline in the U.K. over the years, with research in May showing that for the first time ever, people without a religious belief outnumbered Christians in England and Wales.
The major churches, such as the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England, were especially hard hit in the analysis by the British Social Attitudes survey, which showed that as many as four out of 10 adults raised as Anglicans have decided to abandon their faith.
"The striking thing is the clear sense of the growth of 'no religion' as a proportion of the population," said Stephen Bullivant, senior lecturer in theology and ethics at St Mary's Catholic University in Twickenham.
"The main driver is people who were brought up with some religion now saying they have no religion. What we're seeing is an acceleration in the numbers of people not only not practicing their faith on a regular basis, but not even ticking the box. The reason for that is the big question in the sociology of religion," he added.
Scotland and Northern Ireland maintained their Christian majorities at the time of the survey, however.