Study: Education Has Positive Impact On Religious Participation

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A recent study found that higher levels of education have a positive impact on religious participation, with the odds of attending religious services increasing 15 percent for each additional year of education.

Conventional wisdom holds that the more education one has, the more likely he is to question his faith or stop attending church. However, a recent University of Nebraska-Lincoln study, soon to be reported in Review of Religious Research, found that higher education may actually have a positive impact on one’s faith.

“Education influences strategies of action, and these strategies of action are relevant to some religious beliefs and activities, but not others,” said Philip Schwadel, associate professor of sociology at UNL and author of the study, according to a UNL press release. “The effects of education on religion are not simple increases or decreases. In many ways, effects will vary, based on how you define religion.”

The study, which analyzed a nationwide sample of thousands of responses to the General Social Survey, found that higher education can have a positive impact in areas like religious participation in particular. However, higher education may also make one less likely to feel that his is the “one true faith.”

The study found that, for every additional year of education: The odds of attending religious services increased by 15 percent, the odds of reading the Bible increased by 9 percent, and the odds of switching to a mainstream Protestant denomination increased by 13 percent.

“It’s clear that though the religious worldviews of the highly educated differ from the religious worldviews of those with little education, religion plays an important role in the lives of highly educated Americans,” Schwadel said. “And religion remains relevant to Americans of all education levels.”

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