Evangelical Protestant Men As Husbands and Fathers
Even though they favor a traditional, patriarchal family structure, Evangelical Protestant men make some of the best husbands and fathers, according to a recent study by W. Bradford Wilcox, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia.So does this study, in effect, dis Catholic men?
“Theirs is a very soft patriarchy,” Wilcox writes in his new book, “Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands,” recently released in time for Father’s Day.
In his comparative study of American husbands and fathers — which focuses on mainline Protestants, Evangelical Protestants and religiously unaffiliated families Wilcox asks the question: How does religion influence the family attitudes and practices of married men with children?
To seek the answer, he examines data gathered by two well-regarded, national social surveys, the General Social Survey (1990-98), and the National Survey of Families and Households (1987-88 and 1992-94). His book addresses a neglected field – that of religious influences on social life, according to the University of Chicago Press, which brought out the book as part of its Morality and Society Series, edited by Alan Wolfe.
Wilcox’s findings include:
- Evangelical Protestant family men who frequently attend church have the highest rates of involvement in one-on-one activities and youth activities of any major religious group in the United States;
- Churchgoing Evangelical Protestant family men are more likely than any other major religious or secular group to know where their children are at all times;
- Evangelical Protestant wives whose husbands attend church regularly report the highest levels of happiness with their husbands’ love and affection of any major religious or secular group in the study;
- Evangelical Protestant wives whose husbands attend church regularly reported the lowest levels of domestic violence of any major religious or secular group studied;
- Mainline Protestant family men who attend church regularly are also more involved and affectionate with their children than religiously unaffiliated men.
In reality Catholics are a very diverse group, including a lot of men who are only nominally Catholic and pretty secular. But Catholic men who take their religion seriously and try to live by the faith have to be pretty much like churchgoing Evangelical Protestant family men.
Liberals are always espousing this or that policy “for the children.” But their concern for the children never goes beyond wanting more and more government programs which rival or preempt the family, and are run (quite typically) by secular bureaucrats. A real concern “for the children” would involve support for the kinds of families that Christian men are part of.