Blog Template Theology of the Body: Religous decline and the family

Friday, June 08, 2007

Religous decline and the family

The standard meme about the relationship between religion and family size is that religious people have larger families, with religion being the causal factor; being non-religious causes one, on the whole, to have fewer children. (I should mention that this is all based on society-wide measurements of religious attendance and birthrates -- obviously there are plenty of exceptions at the individual level) Anyway, in this interesting article, "How the West Really Lost God," Mary Eberstadt argues that a case can be made for reverse causation -- that it is a decline in nuclear families that causes the decline in religious belief. She's not so simplistic as to argue that it is the only cause, but rather argues that there is significant evidence to indicate that the decline of families may be a major factor in the rise of secularism. While there are several elements of the article I disagree with, the article is sufficiently provocative enough (in a good way) that it is worth reading the whole thing. I'd be interested in your responses.