Is religion good for children?

Hi @Interested_in_Church,

In a fascinating recent review of the research, Tyler J. VanderWeele, at Harvard University, reports that recent media reports about the effect of religion on children were entirely inaccurate.

As he writes,

In 2015, a paper by Jean Decety and co-authors reported that children who were brought up religiously were less generous. The paper received a great deal of attention, and was covered by over 80 media outlets including The Economist, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, and Scientific American. As it turned out, however, the paper by Decety was wrong.

I imagine, given the extensive media coverage of the original paper, that you may have heard about this study! But, it was not correct.

The actual evidence looks more like this:

We found that during childhood and adolescence, those who attended religious services regularly were subsequently 29 percent more likely to have high levels of volunteering than those who did not. Those who attended services regularly were also 87 percent more likely to subsequently have high levels of forgiveness; and those who prayed and mediated regularly were 47 percent more likely to have a high sense of mission. Again, the effects of a religious upbringing seemed to contribute to a greater generosity toward others many years later during young adulthood.

Our study also indicated that those who were raised religiously were also protected from what are sometimes called the “big three” dangers of adolescence: depression, drug use, and risky behaviors. They were also more likely to have higher levels happiness in young adulthood.

I’m curious…

  • Have you heard others express concerns about the negative effect of religion on children?

  • Do you think the latest and most accurate scientific evidence on this topic could start good conversations with your friends?


Hi @CarsonWeitnauer
A very great post and question

  1. I believe that religion (Christianity in particular) can not be wrong for children. That children with religious backgrounds are less generous is wrong. Because generosity and volunteering are core teachings of most religion. Humanitarian services like, the wellspring International among others are not born out of Atheism, scientism or humanism. No. This is not to mean that non religious people lacks goodness. Love for human originated from religion and without the love rooted in the Gospel mankind will be without peace. Those who define religion as opium of the people, and popularized the idea that god is dead as such denying Children the benefit of religion, have end up raising a generations of people who have succeeded in valuing the life of animals, fish and the ecosystem more important than that of human beings. Losing their sence of morality, intrinsic worth and identity. In Africa today, the Christian religion in children has become our reason for hope.

  2. I agree that report based on accurate scientific evidences could start up a good conversation. True Christianity answers questions not just from the mouth of men but from paper generated out of false scientific methods and facts.

Yes @CarsonWeitnauer, I hear this regularly, especially with many erroneously identifying CHRISTianity with white supremacy & patriarchy because of the historic use of oppressors to justify slavery, genocide & sexism from misinterpretations & misrepresentations of the BIBLE.

Yes I believe studies like this and others that show the truth of how we CHRISTians actually are are excellent topics for Conversation, especially in these times when CHRISTianity is so falsely represented.