Lessons in Passing on the Faith from a Study of Conservative Christian Parents

In a recent study, the sociologist Jesse Smith found that parents who identify as “religiously conservative” are more likely to pass on their religious beliefs to their children than those who identify as “moderate” or “liberal.” While these categories don’t have exact equivalents among Jews, some of the findings are relevant, and go beyond the self-evident conclusion that those who take religion more seriously are more likely to raise children who do so as well:

[W]hat do religious conservative parents do differently? My study reveals a straightforward answer: they are more active in their children’s religious socialization. . . . To pass on religion, parents need to make it a part of daily family interactions.

This may sound obvious, but it runs counter to many parents’ instincts regarding the religious upbringing of their children. Christian Smith and his colleagues have shown the ways that parents worry about coming on too strong when teaching their children about religion. Parents want to make sure they give their kids room to explore religious questions for themselves, and don’t want to do anything to alienate their kids or provoke teenage rebellion. These are legitimate concerns, and if children feel like religion has been “rammed down their throats,” this may serve to push them away.

But my study suggests that, on average, the barrier to passing on the faith is not too much religious socialization, but too little. Taking too light a touch with religious parenting comes at a cost. If kids do not receive a clear and consistent message from their parents that religion is important, they are likely to simply conclude that it is not important. . . .

While the challenges of passing on the faith remain considerable, religious conservative parents are managing that challenge somewhat better than others, and their secret is simple: when it comes to religious parenting, be hands on.

Read more at Institute for Family Studies

More about: American Religion, Education, Family

Using the Power of the Law to Fight Anti-Semitism

Examining carefully the problem of anti-Semitism, and sympathy with jihadists, at American universities, Danielle Pletka addresses the very difficult problem of what can be done about it. Pletka avoids such simplistic answers as calling for more education and turns instead to a more promising tool: law. The complex networks of organizations funding and helping to organize campus protests are often connected to malicious states like Qatar, and to U.S.-designated terrorist groups. Thus, without broaching complex questions of freedom of speech, state and federal governments already have ample justifications to crack down. Pletka also suggests various ways existing legal frameworks can be strengthened.

And that’s not all:

What is Congress’s ultimate leverage? Federal funding. Institutions of higher education in the United States will receive north of $200 billion from the federal government in 2024.

[In addition], it is critical to understand that foreign funders have been allowed, more or less, to turn U.S. institutions of higher education into political fiefdoms, with their leaders and faculty serving as spokesmen for foreign interests. Under U.S. law currently, those who enter into contracts or receive funding to advocate for the interest of a foreign government are required to register with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). This requirement is embedded in a criminal statute, and a violation risks jail time. There is no reason compliance by American educational institutions with disclosure laws should not be subject to similar criminal penalties.

Read more at Commentary

More about: American law, Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus