Congregants make better citizens, says new study

Research by Robert Putman and David Campbell
First, the silver lining: people of faith are better citizens and better neighbors, and the U.S. is “amazingly” religious compared to other countries, says Harvard University professor Robert Putnam.

Now, the cloud: young Americans are “vastly more secular” than their older counterparts, according to Putnam.

“That is a stunning development,” Putnam said. “The youth are the future. Some of them are going to get religious over time, but most of them are not.”

A celebrated political scientist, Putnam has long been concerned with declining participation in American civic life, as described in his best-selling book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. When Elks clubs and parent-teacher associations lose members, the ties that bind civil society unravel, Putnam argues.

 

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