Yesterday I wrote about the new report "Does the Shape of Families Shape Faith?"
Today I want to connect that report with other recent research on young people and institutions.
Divorced kids are less likely to become churched adults. Yet these unchurched adults are not usually atheists. They are just disappointed with and suspicious of the institution of religion.
Divorced kids are also less likely to get married. Yet they are not against romance, parenthood, or even the idea of permanent pair bonding. They are just disappointed with and suspicious of the institution of marriage.
A recent study from the Pew Research Center, led by Robert Putnam of Bowling Alone fame, found that a fifth of Americans say they have no religious affiliation. Yet most of them believe in God and think of themselves as in some way spiritual. They are religious, but decline to register with a religious institution, in the same way that they are political, but decline to register with a political party. This is especially true of young people.
My best guess is that the young people are reluctant to trust institutions because they were divorced upon in their childhood, or never saw their parents even attempt marriage in the first place. The experience of family is more basic than the experience of other institutions, and the decline in marriage precedes the decline in religious and political affiliation.
The shape of families not only shapes faith, it shapes children's trust of all institutions.