British parents worry religion will alienate their children, study finds

Choristers from St. Paul's Cathedral choir sing at the Quire inside St. Paul's Cathedral in London, Britain. © Dylan Martinez
Almost a quarter of religious parents in Britain are concerned their children will be “alienated” at school if their faith is passed on, a survey has revealed.

The research found that one in four (23 percent) parents were worried their kids would be socially isolated if they were religious.  

A similar proportion (26 percent) of parents were concerned their children “may have questions I could not answer.”

Parents were also concerned about social media. More than a third (34 percent) said they felt it would have “more of an impact on my children’s beliefs than my input.”

The survey, conducted by ComRes, was commissioned by the religious and social affairs think tank Theos. Its head of research, Nick Spencer, said parents have “the greatest influence on their children’s faith, not least through the integrity and authenticity of their own beliefs.”

He added: “That noted, just calling yourself Christian makes little difference here; the more serious parents take their own faith, the more concerned they are to want to pass it on.”

The research suggested that 31 percent of parents were concerned about whether or not their children would grow up to hold the same beliefs as them. That figure rose to 36 for parents who said they were Christian.

Half of British parents are confident talking to their children about religion, the survey found. However, just 40 percent had actually spoken to their children about faith.

Nearly one in five parents (18 percent) said it was not their role as a parent to “pass on my beliefs to my children.”

ComRes surveyed 1,013 parents. Some 458 identified as Christian, 113 said they were from other religions and 423 said they were not religious.

Earlier this year, the Archbishop of Canterbury warned against the rise of “anti-Christian” culture and defended the church’s record as a force for good in society after Church of England attendance was found to have slumped dramatically.

The church’s annual pew count reports only 1.4 percent of the population of England attends Anglican services every Sunday. Mid-week services have also slipped below the one million mark for the first time.

Average Sunday attendance has fallen by 22,000 from 764,700 in 2014. That is a third less than the average during the 1960s.

A 2015 poll showed Britain is one of the least religious countries in the world, coming sixth from the bottom in a global study of belief carried out across 65 countries.