Teens may go to church with their parents but religion is less important to them - study

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Teenagers tend to follow their parents' lead when it comes to churchgoing and religious beliefs, but they don't necessarily feel the same about it, a study by Pew Research has found. 

In the study of 1,811 teens and their parent or legal guardian, eight in 10 evangelical Protestant parents had a teen who also identifies as an evangelical Protestant. 

The link between parents' faith and their kids' was less stark in families affiliated with other denominations. For parents belonging to mainline Protestant denominations like the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), only around half (55%) had a teen with the same identity, while a quarter (24%) had a teen who has no religious affiliation at all. 

A similar proportion of US teens overall (44%) sad they went to religious services at least once a month - virtually the same share as parents who said they attend monthly (43%). 

But the figures revealed differences in their attitudes towards their faith, with 43% of parents saying that religion was very important to their lives, compared to only 24% of teens. 

The study also discovered that some parents were unaware of their child's true feelings on religion.  When asked how important they thought religion was to their teen, 69% of the parents who guessed incorrectly did so because they overestimated its importance for their child. 

Nearly half (48%) of the teens said they share "all the same" religious beliefs as their parents.

Among the teens who said they have "some of the same" or "quite different" beliefs, around a third (34%) said their parents didn't know that they felt differently about religion. 

Nearly a fifth (17%) said their differences were the cause of some conflict in their family. 

"US teens take after their parents religiously, attend services together and enjoy family rituals," Pew said. 

"But American adolescents often participate at parents' behest, and tend to be less religious in more personal, private ways."