Absent fathers and failed marriages may be two reasons why Christianity is on the decline in the United States, a new study found.
The Nationwide Study on Faith and Relationships, recently released by the church-consulting organization Communio, reported that “family decline appears to fuel faith decline.” The study drew data from a nationwide survey of 19,000 Sunday church attendees from 112 evangelical, Protestant and Catholic congregations in 13 states. The research comes as marriage rates have dropped 31 percent since 2000 and 61 percent since 1970, while less than half of all adults under 30 today grew up in a home with married parents.
According to the study, individuals who regularly attend church are more likely to have fathers present in their lives. In the United States., approximately 80 percent of Sunday churchgoers were raised in homes where their biological parents were married to each other throughout their upbringing. Additionally, the study confirms that “boys who grew up in homes with married parents are considerably more likely to attend church regularly as adults.”
Communio President J.P. DeGance, who contributed to the study, says that young people are not leaving churches in large numbers because of a lack of ministry outreach.
“We’ve never spent more money in the history of the church to transmit our faith to our young people, and yet they’re falling away at higher and higher numbers,” he said. “The reason for the decline in faith is unpacked in the study; that the absence of a married home where dad is warmly engaged in the life of his child is the cause of the fire that is the source of the reason less and less people believe.”
The study predicts that the overall population of the religious “nones” is unlikely to stabilize until 25 to 30 years after family structure has stabilized.
“The number of young people being born and raised and reaching adulthood in a home where mom and dad stayed continuously married appears to have been constant over the last 10 years,” DeGance said. “In some sense, that’s some good news; at least temporarily it seems to be stabilized. This is incredibly important for churches.”
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice