Christian parents more hesitant to teach children about religion

9 December 2016

One in four parents in Britain fear that teaching religion to their children will alienate them at school, a report from the think tank Theos, in partnership with Canterbury Christ Church University and the polling agency ComRes, shows.

The Passing on Faith project was commissioned ComRes and academic Dr Olwyn Mark, working for Christ Church’s National Institute for Christian Education research (NICER). The report exlores the changing attitudes of parents toward teaching their children about faith, and the ways in which religion may be passed onto future generations.

The report suggests that less than a third (31%) of parents were concerned about whether their children would end up holding the same religious beliefs as them. Parents who call themselves Christian thought along similar lines with 36% wanting to pass on their beliefs. But the figures were much higher for parents who belonged to other religious groups (69%).

When the data were broken down further for Christians, 57% of those self-defined Christians who believed in God said that they would like their children to hold the same beliefs (about God or Higher Power) when they are older, and 69% of those Christians who attended church once a month or more felt the same way.

The research also shows that while more than half of British parents are confident talking to their children about religion, less than half (40%) had actually spoken to their children about faith, with many respondents citing that the subject “never came up in family discussions”.

Commenting on the research, Nick Spencer, Head of Research at Theos said: “The right of parents to nurture and develop the religious faith of their children has come under fire by New Atheists over recent years.

“That could be because, as Dr Mark’s research shows, parents do have the greatest influence on their children’s faith, not least through the integrity and authenticity of their own beliefs.

“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.”

Dr Olwyn Mark said: “Despite the perceived strength of other social and cultural forces, parents should have confidence that they can make all the difference to the way their children spiritually grow.”

Notes to editors

Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With 17,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 96% of our UK undergraduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
  • We are one of the South East’s largest providers of education, training and skills leading to public service careers.

*2014/15 Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey



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Last edited: 14/12/2018 22:54:00