Atheists report they are taking their kids to church

In a surprising discovery, two researchers find that atheists at 21 different universities think it's important that their children be exposed to matters of faith

Faith and family are so tightly linked in American society that "even some of society's least religious people find religion to be important in their private lives," says researcher Elaine Howard Ecklund from Rice University.


Despite their personal non-belief, reports the website Futurity, a surprising number of atheist scientist parents told Ecklund that they often participate in religious traditions for their kids' sake.

"Through in-depth interviews with scientists at elite academic institutions -- those particularly likely to have no firm belief in God," reads the abstract of Ecklund's report, published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, "we provide insight into the motives scientists who are not religious have for joining a religious group."


The study also examines "the struggle faced by these individuals in reconciling personal beliefs with what they consider the best interests of their families."

Ecklund's co-researcher, Kristen Schultz Lee, is a sociologist at the University at Buffalo. Their study was financed by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation and funding from Rice.

Ecklund and Lee randomly selected participants from a survey of 2,198 tenured and tenure-track faculty in the natural and social sciences at 21 U.S. research universities. About half of those surveyed identified themselves as believers. Of the other half calling themselves atheists, 17 percent of those who have kids still at home said they attended a religious service more than once in the past year.

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Rob Kerby
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