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Comparing Religious and Moral Socialisation: Experiences of Dutch Youths

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As part of a large-scale inquiry into the religious and moral orientations of Dutch secondary school students, they were questioned about their religious and moral socialisation at home. More specifically the students were asked how important their religious and moral socialisation is/was to their parents. On the basis of the data thus acquired this paper explores differences in the importance attached to religious and moral socialisation by children in religious and nonreligious families and in churchgoing and non-churchgoing families. As expected, in both religious and churchgoing families the religious socialisation of children is deemed more important than in nonreligious and non-churchgoing families. Two rather unexpected results were that, firstly, moral socialisation was deemed more important in religious and churchgoing families than in their secular counterparts; and, secondly, religious and churchgoing parents considered certain aspects of their children's moral socialisation more important than related aspects of their religious socialisation. Apparently, children's moral socialisation is not only rated more highly in religious and church-affiliated than in secular environments, but in the former it is rated above their religious socialisation. This is a remarkable finding, which is discussed from the perspective of cognitive and evolutionary psychology in the final section of this paper.


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