Children whose parents divorce are more likely to grow up indifferent to religion, a US research group has claimed.
According to the Washington DC-based Pubic Religion Research Institute, 35 per cent of American adults whose parents had divorced describe themselves as having no religion, compared to only 23 per cent of those whose parents remained married.
Overall, around 25 per cent of the US population now describe themselves as irreligious – a steep rise from the five per cent who made the same claim in 1972.
Those children of divorce who retained an interest in religion when they grew up were still noticeably less religious than others, the report adds: only 31 per cent said they went to church services or the equivalent every week. By contrast, 43 per cent of religious people whose parents stayed together said they did so.
The majority of non-religious adults – a decisive 60 per cent – said they had simply drifted away from the family faith and no longer believed its teachings. Others, however, cited more specific reasons – 29 per cent said they had rejected their church’s view of lesbian and gay people while 19 per cent said the decisive factor was child abuse by members of the clergy.
Meanwhile, the report says, children raised by parents who two different religions are also more likely to abandon both faiths in adulthood.
The report was entitled Exodus – Why Americans are Leaving Religion – and Why They’re Unlikely to Come Back. Read it here.