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New Study Finds Majority of Americans Report Same Religious Faith As Their Mother

mother’s faith
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PHILADELPHIA, PA – American Bible Society today released the second chapter of the 12th annual State of the Bible report, which highlights cultural trends in the U.S. regarding spirituality and Scripture Engagement. Today’s release shows that the majority of Americans maintain the same faith as their mother and that while the landscape of faith is changing, people are reporting high levels of curiosity about the Bible.

The data also indicate that American mothers (women with children at home) are collectively at the lowest levels of Scripture Engagement in three years. The first two chapters are available to download at StateoftheBible.org.

“It’s a sad irony that in the month we highlight the influence of mothers on their children’s faith, we also report that the level of Scripture Engagement for women with children in the home has dropped from 27 percent in 2021 to 15 percent in 2022. The past few years have taken a real toll on parents. They have been forced to balance schooling from home on top of chaotic schedules and devastating loss. Our research shows that many Americans—particularly parents—are struggling to rebuild spiritual routines,” said John Farquhar Plake, PhD and Director of Ministry Intelligence for American Bible Society. “This is a call to church leaders and communities to check in on parents and to help them rebuild practical spiritual habits like reading the Bible with their children. Millions of Americans—moms included—are curious about what the Bible has to say to them in this season. We need to help them discover its life-changing message.”

The State of the Bible findings come from a survey in January 2022 conducted by American Bible Society in collaboration with NORC at the University of Chicago, which produced 2,598 online or telephone responses from American adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Key findings analyzed in Chapter 2: Changing Faith

The faith of our mothers

  • The challenges of parenting through the pandemic have had an impact on the faith of mothers with children at home. Scripture Engagement for women with children at home plummeted from 27 percent in 2021 to 15 percent in 2022—lower now than it was during the disruptive onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 (16%).
  • Five in eight Americans (63%) say their religious faith is the same as their mother’s was when they were ten years old. A look at the current religious identity of the respondents reveals further details about whose faith has changed from their childhood influences. Non-religious groups, those who are now Agnostic-Atheist-None (40%), exceeded all other groups in changing from the faith of their mothers (pages 36-37).
  • The two middle groups—Movable Middle and Non-Practicing Christian—show a very low amount of change from the mother’s faith. This is potentially due to maintaining a religious identity but not adopting the practices of actively living out their faith (pages 39-40).