Children and Religion



This essay demonstrates how the perspectives of children can both inform and expand our understanding of religious traditions. It examines the current scholarship on the topic, which primarily centers on adult efforts to socialize children into a tradition, but is beginning to examine the ability of children to negotiate a religiously diverse world. Children sort through the networks of support and influence in their lives to find meaningful ways to express their religious beliefs and develop practices that synthesize adult teachings with their own interpretations and needs. If scholars hope to achieve some understanding of how young people do this sorting and sifting, much more work needs to be done in all areas of study with religion and children, from how parents and congregations teach children about their faith to how children respond to and reinterpret these efforts. By exploring the available resources on children and investigating the themes that arise in this research with respect to young people and their faith, I hope to encourage and continue the upward trend of including children in religious studies research and suggest areas for further study.