The Transmission of Religion across Generations

A comparative international study of continuities and discontinuities in family socialization

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Empirical findings show that institutional religiosity and religious practice have been steadily declining in most European countries (and more recently in the US and Canada, too) since the 1960s. While there is a large body of evidence to suggest that the decline in church religiosity is due mainly to intergenerational change (with one generation being less religious than the previous), there is also a general lack of detailed knowledge about how this change actually happens. In addition, the conditions in which religious and non-religious worldviews are passed on through generations have rarely been the object of international comparative study.

The research project funded by the John Templeton Foundation aims to understand the transmission of religiosity and non-religiosity across generations in Europe and Canada. In short, it anticipates being able to provide a better explanation of religious change itself, and a more precise theory of religious change across generations. The research project focuses on the following three questions: How does the transmission or non-transmission of faith, values and worldviews take place within families and across generations? What are the main factors in the successful (or non-successful) transmission of faith in different cultural contexts? How does religiosity change in the process of transmission?

Drawing on quantitative and qualitative data, a group of international researchers will present and discuss findings from five countries: Canada, Finland, Germany, Hungary, and Italy. In addition, findings from the U.S. partner project “Pro-Social Values and Spirituality in the Absence of Religion Among Millennials and their Families” will be presented.



Thursday, 9 June 2022
14:00 – 14:30 Welcome and Introduction
Christel Gärtner, Münster
14:30 – 16:30 Patterns and dynamics of transmission in Germany
Chair: Alyshea Cummins, Ottawa
Presentations: Christel Gärtner, Olaf Müller, Linda Hennig, Chiara Porada, Johannes Eberl (Münster)
Comment: Detlef Pollack, Münster
17:00 – 19:00 Patterns and dynamics of transmission in Hungary
Chair: Giulia Marroccoli, Turin
Presentations: Gergely Rosta, Zsuzsanna Szvetelszky, Virág Sövegjártó (Budapest)
Comment: David Voas, London
Friday, 10 June 2022
10:00 – 12:00 Patterns and dynamics of transmission in Italy
Chair: Laura Kallatsa (Eastern Finland)
Presentations: Roberta Ricucci, Luca Bossi, Renzo Carriero; Marcello Cabria, Giulia Marroccoli, Francesco Molteni, Ferruccio Biolcati (Turin)
Comment: Jörg Stolz, Lausanne
12:00 Lunch
13:00 – 15:00 Patterns and dynamics of transmission in Canada
Chair: Linda Hennig, Münster
Presentations: Peter Beyer, Alyshea Cummins, Jacob Legault-Leclair, Isaac Friesen (Ottawa)
Comment: Lori Beaman, Ottawa
15:30 – 17:30 Patterns and dynamics of transmission in Finland
Chair: Zsuzsanna Szvetelszky, Budapest
Presentations: Kati Tervo-Niemelä, Jenni Spännäri, Laura Kallatsa (Eastern Finland)
Comment: Per Pettersson, Karlstad
19:00 Reception
Saturday, 11 June 2022
10:00 – 12:00 Religiosity of parents and grandparents as contributors to pro-social values in young adults
Chair: Jenni Spännäri, Eastern Finland
Presentation: Merril Silverstein, Syracuse
Comment: Christel Manning, Fairfield
12:00 Lunch
13:00 – 14:00 Closing Discussion


Location and registration

9 – 11 June 2022:: Lecture hall JO 101, Johannisstr. 1, 48143 Münster, Germany
Registrate via e-mail until 1 June:


Prof. (apl.) Dr. Christel Gärtner
Dr. Linda Hennig
Chiara Porada

Tel +49 251 83-23584