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Effects of Mothers' and Schools' Religious Denomination on Preschool Children's God Concepts

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This study examines denominational, age, and gender differences in young children's God concepts. Subjects were 198 Dutch preschoolers (mean age 68 months) whose mothers and schools belonged to six different religious denominations. The mothers were non-affiliated, pentecostal, catholic, Dutch reformed, orthodox reformed, or strictly orthodox reformed. The schools were religiously neutral (state schools), interdenominational (protestant/catholic), catholic, Dutch reformed, orthodox reformed, or strictly orthodox reformed. Children's God concepts were measured using stuctured interviews and were operationalized as spontaneous references to aspects of the Bible and as ideas about potential characteristics of God. Results showed that both maternal and schools' religious denomination have independent effects on children's God concepts which generally correspond to theological descriptions of mainline Dutch religious beliefs. Boys identify God more with Jesus than girls. Older preschoolers perceive God less like their parents than the younger ones.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Researcher in Educational Sciences, Department of Philosophy and History of Education, Free University of Amsterdam, Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands Researcher and Methodologist, Social and Cultural Planning Office, Parnassusplein 5, 2511 VX The Hague, The Netherlands Associate Professor in Philosophy of Education and Hendrik Pierson Professor for Christian Education, Department of Philosophy and History of Education, Free University of Amsterdam, Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Publication date: August 1, 2003

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