A new study reveals just how much influence a parent's faith has on their children.
The study published in the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality journal found that parents who do not pass on their faith to their children have contributed to the growing number of young people who identify as "nones" — people who have no religion at all.
During the study, researchers created a scale called The Nonreligious-Nonspiritual Scale (NRNSS) to rate how secular someone is.
"If we measure how secular someone is, it's possible to develop a universal measure of 'religiosity' that applies to all people because it isn't measuring the specific ways in which they are religious but rather it measures how far away from being secular they are in a generic fashion," said study author Ryan T. Cragun of the University of Tampa.
"Once we had a measure that could be used regardless of someone's religious worldview, we thought a useful application would be to compare the religious/secular distance between parents and children," he explained.
The researchers surveyed 196 high school students and 328 of their parents.
They discovered that students were significantly less religious than their parents and were less likely to agree with statements such as, "I'm guided by religion when making important decisions in my life," and, "I have a spirit/essence beyond my physical body."
"There are two things people should take away from the study. First, the NRNSS is a very useful instrument for measuring how secular people are and it can be applied across religious worldviews," Cragun told PsyPost.
"Second, children — at least children in the US insofar as our study can be generalized to them — do tend to be less religious than their parents. That finding helps to explain the growing rates of nonreligious people in the US as much of the rise of nonreligion is the failure of parents to transmit their religion to their children."
This study echoes an earlier one which found that children are more likely to grow up as atheists when their parents are hypocritical about their faith.
CBN News previously reported that religious behavior has a substantial impact on a child. Parents who talk the talk but don't walk the walk when it comes to faith, are more likely to raise children who grow up rejecting religion completely.