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Assessing peer and parental influence on the religious attitudes and attendance of young churchgoers: exploring the Australian National Church Life Survey

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Drawing on data from the 2011 Australian National Church Life Survey (NCLS), this study was designed to assess peer and parental influence on frequency of church attendance, attitude toward church, and attitude toward Christianity among a sample of 6256 young churchgoers between the ages of eight and 14 years, attending a range of denominations, including Catholic, Anglican, Uniting, Pentecostal, and other Protestant Churches. The data indicated the power of parental example on frequency of church attendance. Frequent attendance among young churchgoers occurred when both parents attend as well. Parental influence worked differently on shaping attitude toward church. The most positive attitude was found among young churchgoers who had the opportunity to talk about God with their parents and who did not feel that their parents made them go to church. Young churchgoers responded to parental encouragement better than to parental pressure. Although peer influence within the church did not make much contribution to frequency of attendance, it made a contribution to shaping positive attitude toward church.
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Keywords: Australia; Tweenagers; church; parents; peers

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK 2: NCLS Research, Australian Catholic University, Sydney, Australia

Publication date: January 2, 2018

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