PARENTING & Bending without breaking: What new research is saying about effective religious parenting strategies = balance + faith. #ARDA

by David Briggs, The Association of Religious Data Archives, 3/12/19.

“…Religious firmness integrated with religious flexibility is more likely to result in a balanced, healthy style of religious parenting,” concluded scholars analyzing more than 8,000 pages of in-depth interviews with 198 Christian, Jewish and Muslim couples from 17 states.

A great deal of research has shown parents’ faith can have a positive impact on their children in areas from mental health to developing healthy relationships to being less likely to smoke, take illegal drugs or abuse alcohol.

Some examples from the new research include:

Secrets and lies: Researchers analyzing data from the second wave of the National Study of Youth and Religion found that adolescents who attend religious services more often are less likely to keep secrets from parents. Further, youth who believe that religion is important are both less likely to lie to parents and keep secrets from parents. Key reasons: More religious adolescents were less likely to use alcohol, to have peers who use drugs or drink heavily and to have lower standards of morality – all factors in the likelihood of lying and keeping secrets.

Sex, faith and college students: A study of undergrads at a large public university in the mid-Atlantic suggested that students from families that were likely to pray and talk about their faith together were less likely to have had sex. Greater parental oversight was associated with a decreased likelihood of ever having unprotected sex. And students who were more religious had a lower likelihood of engaging in any sexual activity, and a higher likelihood of condom use when they did. 

Daddy’s home: A study analyzing data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study found evidence suggesting that taking paternity leave, and longer periods of leave, is linked to more frequent father involvement and lower parental conflict among fathers who attend religious services frequently. Fathers who take leave and attend religious services weekly engage with their child about one-half day per week more frequently than fathers who do not take leave.

But not all the outcomes are positive.

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UNAFFILIATED & Research shows younger Christians have moved from being evangelical to being “unaffiliated.”

America’s Changing Religious Landscape, podcast with Robert P. Jones (18 February 2019), interviewed by Benjamin P. Marcus.

…Atheists and agnostics actually only make up only a minority of that category of a quarter of the US population. And the rest of them are kind of a mixed bag. When we’ve looked underneath the hood, there’s kind of two other groups in there. There’s one group that looks . . . that we’ve just broadly labelled “secular” in some of our reporting, that looks broadly like a cross-section of the country. But there’s another group in there that we’ve actually dubbed “unattached believers”. And that group looks, on many measures of religiosity – like, “How often do you pray?”, “How often do you attend religious services?”, “Do you believe in God?”, those kind of questions – they look like religious Americans, even though they refuse the category and won’t identify with any particular religious group. That group tends to be less white, more African American or Latino. And they tend to be younger. And so it’s a very interesting group. I think, as a whole, this group has moved so fast now that it is a very diverse group. I mean, after all, it’s a quarter of Americans, so that is a big, big group that we’re talking about, now...

So if we go back ten years ago, I think that was more true than it is today. But it is true that young evangelicals have moved. But what they have moved from is from being evangelical to be unaffiliated. So they’ve actually exited the category over time. And we can see that a couple of ways in the data. For example, among young people today, only eight percent identify as white evangelical Protestant, right? And again that’s compared to about fifteen percent in the population. So young people are only half as likely to identify as evangelical as Americans overall. And when we look underneath the hood, and we look at the median age, for example, of white evangelicals over time, we see it creeping up. And the main reason for that is that, as they’ve lost members, they’re disproportionately losing members from their younger ranks. So what’s happening is, yes indeed, the young evangelicals of ten years ago have moved. But they’ve not moved over to be Democrats – or they might have – but they’ve mostly moved out of the whole category. They’ve stopped identifying as evangelical. And I think that’s the real shift. So if you’re looking for those people who were young evangelicals a decade ago, you should look for them in the unaffiliated category and not in the evangelical category. And what we’re seeing is that, among the young people who have stayed, the generational differences are now kind-of muted. Because the people who have stayed are actually people who hold views that are fairly consistent with older evangelicals. But the ones who had views, for example, that were in great tension – like on gay rights – have largely left the fold.

Audio and transcript available at: Jones_-_America_s_Changing__Religious_Landscape_1

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CHURCH HISTORY & ARDA creates helpful and graphic-based online timeline of Race/Ethnicity & Religion in No. America

Commentary by Prof. B.: It is easy to be put off by the complex and intertwined history of diversity in America. Recognizing this, the Association for Religion Data Archives (ARDA) has created an online and interactive “timeline” here: (screen shot below).

Easy to navigate, quick to read with reliable research, this should be your first stop to understand and explain the complex history of diversity in the No. American Church.




YOUTH GROUP & Study finds youth group participation can reduce bullying

by David Briggs, The Association of Religious Data Archives, 8/9/17.

A powerful resource for reducing bullying and helping victims heal may be right in your local church, temple or mosque.

The congregational youth group.

A new wave of international scholarship addressing public concerns over bullying is extending into religious communities.

Researchers are discovering that congregations are uniquely positioned to offer the type of social support and the promotion of values such as empathy, forgiveness and love of neighbor that appear to be effective ways of addressing the issue.

Here are five ways research suggests faith can play an important role in reducing bullying…

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MENTAL HEALTH & Research Finds Positive/Negative Impact From Belief in Screwtape’s Associates

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Here is research published in the The Association of Religious Data Archives, which confirms CS Lewis quote, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and un- healthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight” (C.S. Lewis. The Screwtape Letters, HarperSanFrancisco, ©1942, Harper edition 2001, p. ix.)

Demonic Influences: Beware the devil you know by David Briggs, The Association of Religious Data Archives, 1/10/17.

“Belief in supernatural evil has been shown to be linked to positive outcomes such as increasing religious resources and promoting greater cooperation and less selfish behavior.

But too great a focus on beliefs in the power of malevolent beings to do harm may increase stress and anxiety in a world increasingly seen as a dark and dangerous place, other research suggests.

One takeaway, especially for religious counselors and mental health professionals: “Pay attention to the dark side of belief systems,” noted Fanhao Nie, lead researcher in the Purdue study.”

… Belief in the existence of powerful supernatural evil beings was one of the strongest predictors of poor mental health in young adults, according to a new study by Purdue University researchers.

Read more here…

THEORIES & On Theorizing About Religion #ARDA #PennStateUniv

On theorizing about religion:

by ARDA, Association of Religion Data Archives, Penn. State University.

Social scientists observe that the world of religion consists of regularities and anomalies, seeking explanations for both. A theorist suggests a set of ideas to explain one aspect of religious behavior, hopefully in terms of a few clear statements using words that can be defined unambiguously. Ideally, it will be possible to derive logical consequences of the ideas that can be stated as formal hypotheses. The concepts in a hypothesis must be operationalized in terms of specific measures for which data can be collected in an empirical study. Consider this example of a theoretical argument:

1. Religion compensates people psychologically for deprivations they suffer in life.
2. Some people are relatively deprived in terms of wealth and status.
3. Relatively deprived people will gravitate to religious groups that compensate them for their deprivations.
4. The religions of relatively deprived people need to provide more compensation than do the religions of people who are not relatively deprived.
5. The religions of relatively deprived people must provide compensatory social status.
6. Therefore, the religions to which relatively deprived people belong will tend to:

a. Be more emotionally intense than other religious groups.
b. Assert that special honor comes from the mere act of belonging to the particular religious group.
c. Have social relations that are somewhat encapsulated from the wider society.

Of course this argument could be stated in much greater detail. But, given that it is familiar in the social science of religion, consider what is needed to test it. Key terms must be defined operationally, for example so that questionnaire items can be written or selected to represent them in an empirical study:

1. Relative deprivation could be operationally defined as individuals below medium income, or individuals who respond to attitude questions as being relatively powerless or lacking respect in society.
2. Compensatory social status could be measured through questionnaire items about religious exclusivity such as feeling that only members of one’s own groups are saved, or describing their group with terms like “the chosen people,” or rejecting some status-related values of the wider society such as saying that the rich are corrupt.
3. Emotional intensity might be operationalized in terms of specific behaviors, such as expressions of joy during religious services, or subjectively in terms of whether a respondent rates their religious experiences as intense versus peaceful.
4. Social encapsulation can be measured by what proportion of a person’s five best friends belong to his or her own congregation.

THEORIES & How Theories, Concepts, & Measures Relate to Each Other #ARDA

Theories, Concepts & Measures

by ARDA, Association of Religion Data Archives

Social scientists observe that the world of religion consists of regularities and anomalies, seeking explanations for both. A theorist suggests a set of ideas to explain one aspect of religious behavior, hopefully in terms of a few clear statements using words that can be defined unambiguously. Ideally, it will be possible to derive logical consequences of the ideas that can be stated as formal hypotheses. The concepts in a hypothesis must be operationalized in terms of specific measures for which data can be collected in an empirical study. This will be a collegial effort, enlisting the cooperation of researchers, universities, journal editors, institutes and associations of scholars to increase the impact and awareness of important findings in religion research.

A general introduction to the philosophy of this project is:

The site has four categories of articles:


We hope this site will provide users with many resources in conducting research or writing scholarly articles, policy briefs, or general information for public consumption. Here are a few of the many uses:

1) Enhance your citations and knowledge of the literature: Our pages include citations which refer users to major works which utilize the theory, concept or measure in question.
2) Improve your measurement of concepts: Explore the variables researchers commonly utilize in measuring complex concepts.
3) Draw links between theoretical orientations: Explore how many concepts and measures are shared across theoretical orientations.
4) Move seamlessly from theory to research: This site allows users to trace theoretical hypotheses to specific quantitative indicators and back again. Along the way citations to key research help to further clarify this process.

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