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65 Percent of Protestant Pastors See School as 'Negative Influence' on Children's Spiritual Development

  • Amanda Casanova

    Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and…

  • Updated Mar 22, 2019

A new study from the Barna Group found that a majority of Protestant pastors and about half of Catholic priests believe school is a negative influence on a child’s spiritual development.

According to the Christian Post, Barna and religious think tank Cardus surveyed 650 Protestant and Catholic church pastors and priests for their study.

The pastors and priests were asked to choose whether certain people and organizations have a positive or negative influence on a child’s spiritual development. The categories were “parents/family,” “church,” “school,” “peers/friends,” “Christian community,” and “culture/society.”

According to the results released this week, 65 percent of Protestant leaders and 50 percent of Catholic priests said that school has a negative influence on a student’s spiritual development.

“In fact, schools are ranked alongside a child’s friends and peers as primarily negative influences — a view held by 61 percent of Protestant leaders and 65 percent of Catholic leaders,” the study said.

“In some cases, the perceived negative influence of a child’s school or friend group outweighs a perceived positive influence by double.”

Barna added that some Catholic priests may have been considering Catholic school education as the influencing factor and thus, rated “school” as a positive influence.

“Church and family life are important in the spiritual formation of young adults, but our research reinforces that schools play an important role too,” said Ray Pennings, Cardus executive vice president.

“Church leaders, parents, and educators must understand the positive influence of Christian schooling on spiritual formation and work together to ensure that these schooling options are genuinely available for as many families as possible.”

“Culture/society” was ranked the most negative influence with 94 percent of Protestant pastors and 92 percent of Catholic priests responding that it had a negative influence on a student’s spiritual growth.

Photo courtesy: Unsplash/Neonbrand