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Why are Women more Religious than Men?
by Marta Trzebiatowska and Steve Bruce
Publisher:Oxford University Press (OUP)
This is a fascinating exploration into what we all know to be true - women are more religious than men. In times past the posing of this question would have seemed bizarre. Faith was ubiquitous and gender studies were non-existent. Today our fascination with both secularisation and gender differences makes the question highly relevant.
Following a brief historical sojourn to establish the truth of the question, the authors explore this further with chapters that cover a wide range of conventional and innovative religious traditions. Having clearly established the apparent predisposition of women towards religion the authors consider the impact of gender attitudes, attitudes towards risk, lifestyle roles and secularisation. With each study the authors identify sometimes subtle, sometimes stark gender differences that impact on attitudes towards religion.
The answer the authors reach to their title question is that a combination of gender related issues - such as the caring and nurturing role that women disproportionately fulfil and the macho images associated with men - lead women to appear to be more religious than men. However this is not the end of the story; the authors argue that the process of secularisation has affected men more swiftly than women and that in time these differences in religious adherence will erode.
Academic studies into religions that are not in themselves works of faith offer the reader a refreshing insight into how faith is perceived. For those trying to attract men into church this book suggests perhaps that we need to focus not on trying to make church more appealing to men by focusing on their "manly" hobbies and traits, but by trying instead to nurture their caring identities, which after all, are not biological but socially inherited. A good read for those interested in delving deeper into a fascinating area of our common life.
Reviewer: David Ford (11/06/13)