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Survey: Only 35% of US Catholic parents highly value passing on faith

Catholic Families Pews Mass attendance | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 02/14/23

With only about a third of Catholic parents placing high value on their kids' faith, the future of Mass attendance may be bleak.

The rise of the “nones” — those who claim no religious affiliation — may have longer reaching ramifications than previously considered. A recent poll from Pew Research Center found that only about a third (35%) of US Catholic parents consider it extremely or very important to raise their children to their faith. The report paints a bleak picture for the future of Catholic Mass attendance, which has already fallen significantly since the pandemic began.

The 35% of parents who place high value on passing on their faith is mirrored exactly by the portion of parents who said they place little value on raising their kids Catholic (35%). In the middle ground, 30% of Catholic parents said it is somewhat important. White non-Hispanic Catholics were 10% more likely (39%) than Hispanic Catholics (29%) to place great importance on the issue.

Most Protestant denominations had higher rates of responding that passing down their faith was extremely important. White Evangelicals were the most likely to place a high value (70%) on their children’s faith, followed by Black Protestants at 53%. Only White non-Evangelical Protestants cited lower levels of importance on passing on their faith than Catholics, with just 29% answering in the affirmative.

When examining respondents by rate of Mass attendance, it was found that the religious tendencies of parents corresponded with the value they place on the faith of their children. Those who attend religious services weekly were three times as likely to want their children to have a strong faith (76% vs 21%).

Catholics once again mirrored the total of American responses on the topic of raising their kids to help those in need (81%), as well as on the topic of accepting people who are different than themselves (80%).

Overall, Americans are more likely to say they want their children to be raised in the same faith than to be raised in the same political party (35% vs 16%).

When asked if parents were raising their kids as they themselves were raised, there was an even split of 43% raising their kids similarly, and 44% raising their kids differently. Sixty-three percent of parents who are raising their kids similarly to their own upbringing cited religion as very important, while only 13% of parents raising their kids differently cited religion as an important factor. Very few parents who are raising their kids differently said they were incorporating religion into their children’s lives. 

Read the full survey results at Pew Research Center.

CatholicismChildrenChristianFaithUnited States
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