Not in my pew

David Briggs, writing in Ahead of the Trend on the Association of Religion Data Archives writes about how the Empty pew next to poor children limits benefits of faith.

Latoya and Shantelle, two poor single mothers, stay away from church due to guilt and a sense of “being a sinner.” Adrienne will not attend after a pastor refused to baptize her baby.

Yet what these three women have in common with many new mothers is a strong interest in instilling faith in their children, reports sociologist Susan Crawford Sullivan of College of the Holy Cross.

Her research and other studies on the religious practices of low-income mothers reveal a renewed commitment to faith with parenthood. Acting on that faith can provide a number of benefits from better behavioral outcomes for children to reduced parental stress for struggling moms, the studies suggest.

But the data also raise questions:

Why don’t more poor mothers take advantage of these critical resources?

What can churches do to close the gap?

Congregations appear to be sending real or perceived signals that it’s OK for the poor to be always with them — as long as it is not in the next pew. Some young, single mothers, unable to keep up with church fashion or put much in the collection plate, stay away on Sundays even as they make sure their children attend.

Read more here. How is your church doing?

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