By Christian Smith and Amy Adamczyk
The most important influence shaping the religious and spiritual lives of children, youth, and teenagers is their parents. A myriad of studies show that the parents of American youth play the leading role in shaping the character of their religious and spiritual lives, even well after they leave home and often for the rest of their lives. We know a lot about the importance of parents in faith transmission. However, we know much less about the actual beliefs, feelings, and activities of the parents themselves, what Christian Smith and Amy Adamczyk call the “intergenerational transmission of religious faith and practice.” To address that gap, this book reports the findings of a new national study of religious parents in the United States. The findings and conclusions in Handing Down the Faith are based on 215 in-depth, personal interviews with religious parents from many traditions and different parts of the country, and sophisticated analyses of two nationally representative surveys of American parents about their religious parenting.