Teens in the U.S. tend to self-identify with the same faith tradition and practice many of the same faith expressions as their parents, according to a Pew Research Center report published Sept. 10.
For example, 86% of teens of religiously unaffiliated parents self-identify as unaffiliated, while 80% of teens of evangelical Protestant, 81% of teens of Catholic and 51% of teens of mainline Protestant parents do so.
Overall, 63% of U.S. teens self-identify as Christian, 32% as unaffiliated and 4% identify with another faith tradition.
Despite the high levels of self-identification, teens are less likely than their parents to say religion is “very important” or “somewhat important” in their lives. While 73% of parents affirm one of these statements (43% very; 30% somewhat), only 60% of teens do so (24% very; 36% somewhat).
About half (48%) of teens say they hold “all of the same” religious beliefs as their parents, compared to 43% who say they hold “some of the same” beliefs and 8% who say their beliefs are “quite different.”
Among the teens who say their beliefs differ, 65% do not think their parents are aware of these differences.
Teens are less likely than their parents to pray daily (27% of teens; 43% of parents) and to believe in God with absolute certainty (40% of teens; 63% of parents).
However, teens and parents attend weekly religious services at roughly the same rate (44% of teens; 43% of parents).
“There are nonreligious parents who have highly religious teens, as well as the other way around,” the report said. “But the survey data suggests that, by some traditional measures of religious observance – religious importance and prayer – highly religious parents are less likely to have teenagers who share their beliefs than nonreligious parents are to have teenagers without strong religious beliefs.”