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Inheritance of Religiosity Among Muslim Immigrants in a Secular Society

Date Published: 
Monday, 7 January, 2013

Parents are the primary socialization agents of religiosity. They provide their children with a basis for a religious worldview, set examples of religious behavior and decide on religious education and participation in religious events (Bao et al. 1999; Regnerus et al. 2004; Ruiter and Van Tubergen 2009). Parents are more important in the development of one’s religiosity than other socialization agents like school or peers (Hunsberger and Brown 1984; Hayes and Pittelkow 1993; Myers 1996; Sherkat 1998). There is firm evidence for the intergenerational transmission of religiosity from parents to their offspring during childhood and adolescence; studies also confirm that this transmission lasts up to adulthood (e.g. Willits and Crider 1989; Myers 1996; Martin et al. 2003). Several parenting factors are found to facilitate the intergenerational transmission of religiosity. The transmission is strongest when there is a warm and positive parent–child relationship, when the child is raised by both biological parents and if parents agree in their religiosity (Myers 1996; Sherkat and Wilson 1995; Bao et al. 1999; Granqvist 2002; Bader and Desmond 2006; Abar et al. 2009). However, the transmission of religiosity from parents to children does not happen independently from the social context. The socialization of children takes place within a society and families are embedded in communities and social networks; these factors have a potential influence on how successful parents are in transmitting their religious views and practices (Sherkat 2003; Vermeer et al. 2012). In the case of immigrants whose beliefs and practices differ from those of the majority population in a country, the transmission of religiosity might be less effective than among families in a majority situation (Kwak 2003). On the other hand, religious transmission might be fostered when families are integrated into communities in which their beliefs and views are shared by others.