U.S. Teens Take After Their Parents Religiously, Attend Services Together and Rituals
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 10, 2020) – When it comes to religion, American teenagers and their parents tend to have a lot in common – though not quite as much as the parents may think, according to a new analysis of Pew Research Center survey data.
To begin with, most U.S. teens (ages 13 to 17) share the religious affiliation of their parents or legal guardians. Protestant parents are likely to have teens who identify as Protestants, while Catholic parents mostly have teens who consider themselves Catholics, and the vast majority of religiously unaffiliated parents have teens who describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular.” Within the broad Protestant category, however, there are stark differences. Eight-in-ten parents who affiliate with an evangelical Protestant denomination have a teen who also identifies as an evangelical Protestant. But among parents who belong to mainline Protestant denominations such as the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 55% have a teen who identifies in the same way – and 24% have a teen who is unaffiliated. On the whole, U.S. teens attend religious services about as often as their parents do: 44% of U.S. teens say they go to religious services at least once a month, almost exactly the same as the share of their parents who say they attend monthly (43%). When there are religious differences between adults and their 13- to 17-year-old children, however, it’s usually the teens who are less religious than the parents. For instance, far fewer teens (24%) than parents (43%) say that religion is very important in their lives.