A failure of parents to transmit religion to their children could be driving the rise of nonreligion


The number of so-called “nones” — individuals who do not identify with any organized religion — is rapidly growing in the United States. New research suggests that this trend could be driven, at least in part, by a disconnection between parents and their children.

The study, published in the journal Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, found a large gap between the religiousness of parents and their teenage children.

“In an earlier publication, Joseph Hammer, Michael Nielsen, and I developed a new scale for measuring how secular someone is,” said study author Ryan T. Cragun of the University of Tampa.

“There were many reasons why we developed that scale. The obvious reason was that no one had done anything like that before. But there are two other important reasons. Most prior measures of religiosity either did a really poor job of asking questions that could be answered by the nonreligious or didn’t even ask questions that were relevant to the nonreligious.”

The Nonreligious-Nonspiritual Scale (NRNSS) measures secularity along two spectrums: from nonreligious to highly religious and from nonspiritual to highly spiritual.