World News

The number of religious families is declining in the USA

Unless families get more support and fertility rates are increased among the faithful, religious communities in America could continue on a path toward “terminal decline,” says economist and researcher Lyman Stone.


“If this is about household dynamics, if this is about families, if this is about babies, as I am arguing it is, could society support parents more? Could we change this? And could we do something that would be justifiable in a pluralist and liberal society? As we’re not just going to force people to pray in public schools or something,” the researcher said.

Stone, who is an adjunct fellow at American Enterprise Institute, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, and a research fellow at the Institute for Family Studies, made the argument during a webinar Thursday, billed “Religiosity in America: Trends of the past and options for the future.”

At the beginning of his presentation, Stone made it clear that while current indicators point toward a “terminal decline” of religion in America, it doesn’t have to continue on that path.

“It’s rapidly heading into terminal decline, … a kind of death,” Stone said of religion to webinar participants, including panellists Daniel Cox, a research fellow in polling and public opinion at AEI, and Ross Douthat, a conservative political analyst, author and New York Times columnist.

Stone, who is a former international economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, highlighted research showing that even though the share of Americans who say they are affiliated with some kind of religion or attend church weekly are all trending downward, America is still more religious today than during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

The biggest changes in religious behaviour, said Stone, is not coming from adults turning their back on faith but differences in religious outlook between generations that are largely influenced by the family life of those generations.

In older generations, Stone argued, data show that families tended to be more religious. He also pointed to studies showing that households that have more religious family activities at home, tend to have children who are more likely to remain religious later in life.


Leave a reply