A recent study found that about one in five scientists who say they are atheists or agnostics actually attend church or some other religious institution, and the main reason may be because of their children.

About 1,700 “natural and social scientists at elite American universities” participated in the survey, about half of which identified themselves as religiously affiliated.1 Of the half that did not express a religious identity, 275 were “scientifically selected” to answer interview questions. One of the researchers conducting the survey, Rice University sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund, wrote about the study for the Huffington Post:

Our research challenges the assumption that parents who engage in religious socialization always hold religious beliefs themselves. The atheist scientists interviewed cited personal and social reasons for introducing and integrating religious traditions and institutions into their children’s lives.1

Those reasons included the desire “to expose their children to all sources of knowledge (including religion) and allow them to make their own, informed choices about a religious identity,” influence from a spouse or partner, and the desire for a sense of community.1

“We expected these individuals to be less inclined to introduce their children to religious traditions than they are. But it turns out they want their children to know about different religious traditions because it is more consistent with their identity as a scientist to expose their children to all sources of knowledge,” Dr. Ecklund wrote….

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