Growing up Religious: Christians and Jews and their Journeys of Faith.

Wuthnow, Robert. Growing up Religious: Christians and Jews and their Journeys of Faith. Beacon Press, 1999.

Robert Wuthnow examines the significance of growing up religious in relation to contemporary trends in American culture and spirituality. Growing up religious involves the dimension of spirituality and religion experienced while growing up as a child and the formative influence it has had on people’s life in general. Wuthnow’s study is based on in-depth interviews with two hundred individuals from diverse background, and several extensive national opinion poll surveys. Religious upbringing continues to inform the experiences people have as adults; it helps them interpret their present in light of past experiences and shapes the meaning they give to their lives and their sense of the sacred.
Growing up religious also enables individuals to negotiate living in a multi-cultural society such as the United States’; it enables them to forge links with people from different religious traditions while encouraging loyalty to particular communities of faith.
Wuthnow recounts the narratives of people’s lives arranging them along four different themes of (1) the sacred at home, (2) public worship services, (3) departure from the traditions of faith individual’s experienced as children, and (4) the significance of religious upbringing in the context of a multi-cultural society.

Stories of people in this book show that spirituality, when part of an individual’s experience while growing up as a child, has been most effective in shaping the values of children when practiced at home and in formal institutional settings. Wuthnow shows that religious upbringing was a significant element of American life in the past and an increasingly multi-cultural society would be better off continuing this tradition which appears to be in decline.