Study: Kids’ Church Attendance More Influenced by Their Father Than Mother

A study was published in 1994 examining the impact of parents’ church attendance on the future church attendance of their children once they become adults. While the study is a bit old, the results are probably still very actual because basic family dynamics don’t change that much. The results indicate that future church attendance of children is much more heavily influenced by the father’s religious practice than by the mother’s. Fr. Robbie Low, who was an Anglican minister at the time, summarized the results:

In short, if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). If a father goes but irregularly to church, regardless of his wife’s devotion, between a half and two-thirds of their offspring will find themselves coming to church regularly or occasionally. (Source)
This is not to say that mothers are unimportant in their children’s faith development. Not at all. But it highlights the mysterious and often unpredictable dynamics within family life and the essential role of the father in the spiritual development of children. Given how much fatherhood has been undermined in the West, is it any surprise that church attendance is so low? Satan knew what he was doing.
Fr. Low was no fan of women priests within Anglicanism. In fact, Fr. Low and his wife became Catholics in 2003 and Fr. Low was eventually ordained a Catholic priest. But even as an Anglican priest, he saw how the results of this study were relevant to the gender of the priesthood.
We are ministering in churches that accepted fatherlessness as a norm, and even an ideal. Emasculated Liturgy, gender-free Bibles, and a fatherless flock are increasingly on offer. In response, these churches’ decline has, unsurprisingly, accelerated. To minister to a fatherless society, these churches, in their unwisdom, have produced their own single-parent family parish model in the woman priest. (Source)

He highlights some powerful contradictions between the alleged benefits of women priests that feminists were promising to Anglicanism and the real motives driving the feminist movement. In light of the opposition, the results in the Anglican Church were not surprising:

The idea of this politically contrived iconic destruction and biblically disobedient initiative was that it would make the Church relevant to the society in which it ministered. Women priests would make women feel empowered and thereby drawn in. (As more women signed up as publicly opposed to the innovation than ever were in favor, this argument was always a triumph of propaganda over reality.) Men would be attracted by the feminine and motherly aspect of the new ministry. (As the driving force of the movement, feminism, has little time for either femininity or motherhood, this was what Sheridan called “the lie direct.”)

And children—our children—would come flocking into the new feminized Church, attracted by the safe, nurturing, non-judgmental environment a church freed of its “masculine hegemony” would offer. (As the core doctrines of feminism regarding infants are among the most hostile of any philosophy—and even women who weren’t totally sold on its heresies often had to put their primary motherhood responsibilities on the back burner to answer the call—children were never likely to be major beneficiaries.)

He concludes with a very simple yet incontrovertible arithmetic on the future of the church: as you feminize the church, you get less men interested in attending. And as you lose the men, you lose their children. So in a few generations, your church vanishes.

The Catholic Church may not have women priests, but much of how Church life unfolds on the ground is quite feminized. So the same math is at play.

 

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