Children’s Views of Environment, Politics Are Sculpted by Religion; UC Riverside Researcher’s Worldwide Network Will Study the Impacts
By J.D. Warren on June 25, 2018
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A grant from the Templeton Foundation will link independent studies from across the world that consider the impact of religious training on children’s world views.
RIVERSIDE, CALIF. (www.ucr.edu) –Rebekah Richert wants to put a box in front of children from around the world, and ask them if God knows what’s inside.
Also: Does God get wet when it rains? Can God make you walk through a wall?
Answers to questions like those reveal how children view the world — and the influence they believe they and God can exert upon it, Richert said.
“By understanding folk beliefs, you can change things in the world,” said Richert, an associate professor of psychology at UC Riverside.
With a $234,000 grant from the John Templeton Foundation as “seed money,” Richert and her colleagues will form a network of international researchers to study how children’s religious beliefs impact the choices they make.
It’s not that researchers aren’t studying the issue – they are, on every continent. But the research efforts run parallel. Enter Richert and her brainchild: the Developing Belief Network. The network would be eight to 12 universities and field sites across the world that Richert said would form a “critical mass of data.”
“There is so little information on children in different cultures, and how they are impacted by their religious beliefs,” Richert said. “It’s such a big aspect of being human, and it’s understudied.”
Religious beliefs impact decisions every day that have nothing to do with religion.
If a child believes spirits live in the earth, and in trees, might that child be more inclined toward conservation?
Conversely, what if a child is schooled in the quasi-religion of Ayn …