Recent studies have indicated that children of divorce are less likely to be religious as adults. While divorce can have an impact on a child’s religious beliefs and affiliation, a new study claims that the previous reports that divorce causes children to be less religious may be “overstated.”

A study by a professor at Baylor found that divorce can impact a child’s religious beliefs but it depends on certain factors, including each parent’s religious affiliations and the family structure after divorce. The study reported that previous studies did not consider divorced parent’s religious beliefs and the impact it would have on their children.

The researchers said married couples who were less religious or held different religious beliefs are more likely to get divorced, thus impacting their children’s faith because they are already not affiliated with a religion or the same religion as each other.

Their study also noted that children who lived with a single parent growing up were less likely to be affiliated with religious organization later as an adult. The researchers said that this is due to the child growing up with a parent who is not as religious and less about the impact of the actual divorce on a child’s religious beliefs.

The researchers concluded that divorce impacts children’s religious beliefs because when children are growing up, the primary source of religious involvement and education comes from the family so if one or both parents are no longer religious, their children most likely won’t be either.

While this study does not necessarily refute previous studies stating that divorce impacts the religious beliefs of children but it does explain why divorce may result in more children not being religious as adults.

Source: ABP News, “Study questions divorce’s impact on faith,” Bob Allen, March 7, 2013