Family and religion in flux: Relationship complexity, type of religiosity, and race/ethnicity


Smith, J. (2023). Family and religion in flux: Relationship complexity, type of religiosity, and race/ethnicity. Journal of Marriage and Family.


Objective: This study examines the links between family formation, relationship history, and multiple types of religiosity in early–middle adulthood, as well as racial/ethnic heterogeneity of these associations. Background: Family and religion have long been recognized as linked institutions. However, rapid changes in both institutions in recent decades necessitate a reexamination of this link. We know little about how this association varies by past versus present relationship experience, institutional versus private types of religiosity, or racial/ethnic group. Methods: Logistic regression models predicting religious attendance, importance of faith, and prayer frequency were estimated using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Models included measures of both contemporaneous union and parenthood status and past relationship experiences. Additional analyses tested these associations separately for White, Black, and Hispanic respondents. Results: Parenthood is consistently linked to higher, and cohabitation lower, religiosity. Respondents with more sexual partners tend to be less religious, while those with past marriages/divorces are more religious. Associations are stronger for attendance than faith or prayer, and more pronounced among White than Black or Hispanic respondents. Conclusion: The link between religion and family remains in evidence, but may have become more tenuous due to the delay and complexification of family formation. This link is strongest for White Americans and with respect to institutional rather than private religiosity. © 2023 The Authors. Journal of Marriage and Family published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of National Council on Family Relations.




Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Journal of Marriage and Family


Smith, J.

Year Published



September 19, 2023



Reference ID