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Study: Those Raised by Religious Hypocrites Turn to Atheism Later in Life

Study: Those Raised by Religious Hypocrites Turn to Atheism Later in Life

A new study published in the Religion, Brain and Behavior Journal explored the idea that behavioral models displayed by religious parents are often what crafts their child’s future beliefs.

Joseph Langston, researcher at the Atheist Research Collaborative, shared that he was interested in this specific topic because his main focus of research is how and why people choose to become atheists.

“At the beginning of this project, the thought process was that perhaps a growing number of people are becoming non-believers because belief was not modeled to them in any appreciable or robust way during their upbringing,” Langston shared with PsyPost, but added that the end result of the study surprised him.

Researchers gathered over 5,000 atheists and asked them two questions: How old were they when they gave up on their religion, and how committed were their parents in their own faith? The study found that when parents choose to be sincere and dedicated in their beliefs in front of their children, the children later delay their decision to resort to atheism at a later age. But when parents are insincere and unfaithful, their offspring have a more difficult time believing their religion to hold truth.

Langston shares three main takeaways from this particular study: “First, the extent to which parents faithfully model their own religious beliefs to their children, works in tandem with other processes to produce unique trajectories of the timing at which one becomes an atheist: being allowed greater religious choice seems to drive the age of atheism down, but so do elevated levels of religious conflict.”

Second, people should remember that parents’ religious behavior is not always directly linked to their offspring’s decision to choose atheism.

And third, religious behavior and practices have a significant amount of influence on a child.

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