This past week we read chapter 4 of Chaves’ book American Religion, this chapter’s title is Involvement. Alone this title enticed me because I grew up being extremely involved and active in my church so I wanted to see what the facts were. Chaves says, “Religious involvement in youth is one of the best predictors of religious involvement in adulthood…”(Chaves 48). He goes on to describe figure 4.2 and the declining religious socialization across generations. As time goes on American’s are less likely to be raised in a religiously active family compared to prior generations. This lack of activity leads future generations to also remain inactive. I found this very interesting because growing up, going to Church was everything. For my family our church was our community and I was very active until the latter part of high school. So, learning that as new generations come people will be less likely to be active in church is shocking and kind of sad.
Growing up active in my Parish meant that I knew so many people from my community that I would have otherwise never known and I wish everyone were able to experience that sense of community. Chaves describes why this decrease is happening and relates it to the ever changing family dynamics. The numbers of traditional families, as Chaves describes having two parents and children, are declining and thus are also declining the amount of religious involvement. Families with children are more likely to be religiously active compared to single and childless people. I grew up in a “traditional” family so maybe that’s why I was so involved, but I think it is so beneficial no matter what the family dynamic may be. Demographic trends are affecting the amount of religious involvement, but I don’t think it needs to continue this way. He describes how the elderly are more active now because they grew up being religiously involved and as the generations age the numbers will continue to decrease, but I think it doesn’t matter how old you are if you want to go and be active in your church then go and do it. This changing demographic is going to affect the downward trend, but people can always take initiative and just do something they weren’t raised with. I know that it is difficult and probably rare for people to go out of what they know, but it is not impossible and future generations can change.