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Families and FaithHow Religion is Passed Down across Generations$
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Vern L. Bengtson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199948659

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199948659.001.0001

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Interruptions in Religious Continuity

Interruptions in Religious Continuity

Rebels, Zealots, and Prodigals1

(p.131) Chapter 7 Interruptions in Religious Continuity
Families and Faith

Vern L. Bengtson

Norella M. Putney

Susan C. Harris

Oxford University Press

Religious Rebels are youth who reject their parents’ religion. They convert to a different faith, settle into religious indifference, or renounce religion altogether. Rebels in this study came from strongly religious families where parental piety had been “too much of a good thing” or parents’ religious training was experienced as too strict. Zealots were young adults whose religious intensity was considerably greater than their parents; most were converts to another religion. Interestingly, when many of the Zealots in this sample themselves became parents, they often produced Rebels who sought a different faith from their fervently religious parents or who simply dropped out of religion. The Religious Prodigals in this study were former rebels who later came back to their family faith. In almost every case, their parents had been patient and supportive; their openness and tolerance had made it easier for the prodigal to return home.

Keywords:   families, Religious Prodigals, rebels, youth, zealots

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