Pew Research: Mixed-Religion Marriage Results in Loss of Faith

Pew Research: Mixed-Religion Marriage Results in Loss of Faith

Father plays crucial role in children’s faith

[The pre-Vatican II Church was right about the dangers of mixed marriages, now called ecumenical or interfaith marriages]

by Max Douglas • ChurchMilitant • October 27, 2016

DETROIT – A new Pew Research poll shows the unhealthy influence of mixed religious homes on the future faith life of their children.

Released Tuesday, results show that of Catholics who marry Protestants, more than a quarter of their children now identify as non-religious.

The research also reveals that those who are raised by one Catholic parent and one non-Catholic parent have less than a 50-percent chance of identifying as Catholics as adults.

Of those who identify as Catholic, most are unlikely to attend Mass on Sunday. A 2014 Pew poll reveals 40 percent of those who identify as Catholic attend Mass only a few times a year, and another 20 percent don’t go to Mass at all.


If raised in a two-parent Catholic home, the odds are slightly higher than half (62%) that the child will continue to identify as Catholic.

The study also reveals that fathers are more likely to take a back seat to the religious formation of their children. According to Pew, “Nearly half (46%) of those raised by parents affiliated with two different religions say their mother was primarily responsible for their religious upbringing, while just 7 percent say their father took primary responsibility.”

Pew reveals even if the mother was primarily responsible for the religious upbringing of the children, 23 percent of children say they identify with the father’s religion when they grow up.

Catholics seeking to marry non-Catholics must have a dispensation from their bishop and promise to raise the children in the Catholic faith.

This recent survey seems to support long-held beliefs by Swiss researchers from the 1990s, who found, “If both father and mother attend [worship services] regularly, 33 percent of their children will end up as regular churchgoers, and 41 percent will end up attending irregularly. Only a quarter of their children will end up not practicing at all. ”

The Swiss poll also concluded along with Pew that “if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two thirds and three quarters of their children will become churchgoers.”

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One comment on “Pew Research: Mixed-Religion Marriage Results in Loss of Faith

  1. The study is somewhat general. It seems to focus on Catholics mixed with Protestants. But what if it’s a Catholic with an Orthodox? With a Copt? Protestantism is by nature degenerative. It rebels against the whole concept of fixed dogmas and authority. The other Churches maintain their structure and formulas. And for a traditionalist Catholic? At least the family and moral teachings wont be torn apart arguing over whether or not the Pope can trump doctrine. No serious member of an Orthodox Church would object to obeying a Pope that submits himself and uplifts Church Teachings. The only dispute one may encounter is whether the Pope is capable of error. With Pope Francis, its a pretty muddy question to answer.  

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