ONE in four parents in the UK is reluctant to teach their children about religion for fear that they might be alienated at school, while the majority of parents chooses not to actively pass on their own beliefs, research from the think tank Theos suggests.
In its report Passing on Faith, released today in partnership with Canterbury Christ Church University and ComRes, less than a third (31 per cent) of the 1013 parents surveyed by ComRes agreed that they would want their children to inherit their belief in God or a higher being; 59 per cent disagreed.
This was compared with 30 per cent who said that they would want to “actively pass on their beliefs” to their offspring, and 60 per cent who said that children should make their own choice, “independently of their parents”.
These figures were only marginally higher for the 458 parents who identified as Christians: 36 per cent said that they would want their children to inherit their belief in God or a higher being. Of those Christian parents who said that they attended church once a month, or more (102), however, 69 per cent said that they would want their children to share their belief in adulthood.
This was higher than participants who identified as atheist (19 per cent), agnostic (nine per cent), or “indifferent” to God (15 per cent), but lower than the 57 Muslim parents surveyed, 85 per cent of whom said that they would want their children to inherit their beliefs.
But fewer than half of all the parents surveyed said that they had spoken to their children about faith. And 34 per cent expressed concern that technology and social media would have “more of an impact” on their children’s beliefs than their own input.
The research, commissioned by Dr Olwyn Mark, was based on a series of recent reports and studies. It concludes that the most effective way in which religion is passed on to children remains through the parents: “No child enters adolescence and adulthood unaffected by the overarching story that they learn in the home.”
Dr Mark said this week: “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.”