Parents deciding between religious and public schooling face many unknowns. One of the most important factors is how the schools might affect the faith of their children. Yet for all the debates over education, we know little about the effectiveness of Christian education on the spiritual lives of students. Students at religious schools are probably more religious than are public-school students. At issue, however, is why they are more religious. Is it just that they come from more religious families, or does the school itself directly affect the religiosity of teens?
A recent study by Jeremy Uecker, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, provides a major step forward in answering this question. Uecker uses the National Survey of Youth and Religion (NSYR) — the best survey to date on adolescent religious life — to compare the religious lives of students in different types of schools: Catholic, Protestant (most of which are evangelical), public, ...1