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article imageStudy says atheist academics are taking their children to church

By JohnThomas Didymus     Dec 5, 2011 in World
A new study published in the December issue of Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion says a higher than expected number of atheist academics are taking their children to church even though they profess no personal religious beliefs of their own.
American Family News Network reports the study conducted by Elaine Howard Ecklund of the Rice University, with others at the University of Buffalo, says 17 percent of U.S. scientists who are atheists attended religious service with their children more than once in the past year.
The researchers, according to, say the scientists attend church services mostly for social and personal reasons. Some attend church only to please their spouses, others for the purpose of socializing and many simply want their children to become familiar with religion so they can make informed decisions on their own about their spiritual lives as adults.
According to Ecklund,
"Our research shows just how tightly linked religion and family are in U.S. society — so much so that even some of society's least religious people find religion to be important in their private lives."
Data was collected through interviews with a "scientifically selected" sample of 275 out of an original survey population of 2,198 members of faculties of 21 elite U.S.research universities.
Ecklund said the sample population consisted of those of the original survey population that denied any religious identity:
"We thought that these individuals might be less inclined to introduce their children to religious traditions, but we found the exact opposite to be true...They want their children to have choices, and it is more consistent with their science identity to expose their children to all sources of knowledge."
Live Science reports that one of the participants in the study, raised in a Catholic home, said though he had abandoned religion, he was concerned to pass the ability to make informed decisions and act thoughtfully to his daughter rather than merely his personal beliefs. For this reason he takes his daughter to church on Sundays once in a while and exposes her to religions such as Islam and Buddhism. The study participant said:
"I...don't indoctrinate her that she should believe in God. I don't indoctrinate her into not believing in God."
God Discussion reports a study by Ecklund in June 2011 that revealed that the dividing line between being religious and being non-religious is not as well defined as is generally assumed. More people who are denying membership of formal religious organizations are describing themselves as "spiritual." Many of the non-religious academics said they considered themselves "spiritual" because though they did not identify with the any religious group, their scientific research and life was motivated by quest for meaning.
More about Atheists, Elaine Howard Ecklund, Rice university
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