Mary Beth McCauley in The Christian Science Monitor:
Gallup polls report that 86 percent of Americans say they believe in God. Thirty nine percent say they attended worship services in the past week. So while God may not be dead, religion struggles. And why shouldn’t it? Religion has awful PR: unrelenting sectarian wars abroad, political infighting over morality at home, scandal, shopping to be done and football to be watched on the Sabbath, high profile competition from secular ideology, and a worldview that can seem out of step with popular culture.
Krista Tippett, host of the award-winning public radio show and podcast “On Being,” which takes up questions of religion and meaning, is alarmed. This, she says, is “the first generation of humans in any culture who didn’t inherit a religious identity.” But even while parents who have distanced themselves from their faith traditions are hesitant to pass that religion on to their children, science seems to take up the cause, as it unearths a host of practical benefits of religious practice. Everything from the physical effects of a heightened immune response to social benefits like closer interpersonal ties and better behavior in teens, is linked to the state of being religious. Is there a way parents can overcome their personal ambivalence about religion in order for their children to have its benefits?