Is religion bad for kids and for families? One recent study claims that religious kids are less altruistic than their secular peers. Now, this claim is based on kids in a non-random sample (not) giving stickers to each other. Stickers. But sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox explains why those eager to use studies like this to point out religion’s deficiencies are missing the mark:
On average, religion is a clear force for good when it comes to family unity and the welfare of children — the most important aspects of our day-to-day lives. Research, some of it my own, indicates that on average Americans who regularly attend services at a church, synagogue, temple or mosque are less likely to cheat on their partners; less likely to abuse them; more likely to enjoy happier marriages; and less likely to have been divorced.
He continues by pointing to data from the General Social Survey demonstrating that religious service attendance “seems to be a net positive for marriage in America” (it increases marriage and fertility worldwide as well). Further research “tells us that religious parents spend more time with their children.” Finally, “religious teens are more likely to eschew lying, cheating and stealing and to identify with the Golden Rule. Children from religious families are “rated by both parents and teachers as having better self-control, social skills and approaches to learning than kids with non-religious parents,” according to a nationally representative study of more than 16,000 children across the United States.” Despite its flaws, “religion in America is not the corrosive influence that it’s often made out to be nowadays. On the contrary, for many Americans, it’s a source of inspiration that redounds not only to their benefit, but also to their families and communities.”
Check out the full article for lots on interesting research.