A recent study has found that children who grow up in religious households are more selfish, less empathetic and sensitive than those who grow up in non-religious households. The findings run contrary to the conventional wisdom that religion plays an essential role in childhood moral development.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago, and published in the journal Current Biology.
The research studied 1,170 children between five and twelve years of age from six different countries. Researchers identified three main religious types: Christians, Muslims, and non-religious. The study did not provide further breakdowns in data between distinctions within the three major groups.
Researchers found that Christian and Muslim children were less likely than non-religious children to share with others. Further, children from religious homes favored stronger punishments for antisocial behaviors than non-religious children.
Christian children were found to be less generous than non-religious children, but more generous than Muslim children. Christian kids judged meanness more harshly than non-religious children, but were less judgmental than Muslim children. Christian children were found to be more sensitive to injustice than both Muslim and non-religious children.
The study highlights the need for Christian parents to proactively teach their children to live out their faith in genuine and god-honoring ways. Christian kids need practical ways to put their faith into action and parents should encourage kids to be regularly involved in service and mission opportunities where they learn that the call to Christ is the call to love and serve others.