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

Jan. 18 2022

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.

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Read more at Institute for Family Studies

More about: American Religion, Education, Family

The End of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and the Rise of the Arab-Israeli Coalition

Nov. 30 2022

After analyzing the struggle between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors since 1949, Dan Schueftan explains the current geopolitical alignment and what it means for Jerusalem:

Using an outdated vocabulary of Middle Eastern affairs, recent relations between Israel and most Arab states are often discussed in terms of peace and normalization. What is happening recently is far more significant than the willingness to live together and overshadow old grievances and animosities. It is about strategic interdependence with a senior Israeli partner. The historic all-Arab coalition against Israel has been replaced by a de-facto Arab-Israeli coalition against the radical forces that threaten them both. Iran is the immediate and outstanding among those radicals, but Erdogan’s Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, Syria—and, in a different way, its allies in the Muslim Brotherhood—are not very far behind.

For Israel, the result of these new alignments is a transformational change in its regional standing, as well as a major upgrade of its position on the global stage. In the Middle East, Israel can, for the first time, act as a full-fledged regional power. . . . On the international scene, global powers and other states no longer have to weigh the advantages of cooperation with Israel against its prohibitive costs in “the Arab World. . . . By far the most significant effect of this transformation is on the American strategic calculus of its relations with Israel.

In some important ways, then, the “New Middle East” has arrived. Not, of course, in the surreal Shimon Peres vision of regional democracy, peace, and prosperity, but in terms of a balance of power and hard strategic realities that can guardrail a somewhat less unstable and dangerous region, where the radicals are isolated and the others cooperate to keep them at bay.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel-Arab relations, Middle East, Shimon Peres, U.S.-Israel relationship