Religion and Families: An Introduction, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Religion and Families

An Introduction, 1st Edition

By Loren D. Marks, David C. Dollahite


276 pages | 9 B/W Illus.

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This is the first multidisciplinary text to address the growing scholarly connection between religion and family life. The latest literature from family studies, psychology, sociology, and religion is reviewed along with narratives drawn from interviews with 200 racially, religiously, and regionally diverse families which bring the concepts to life. Written in a thought-provoking, accessible, and sometimes humorous style by two of the leading researchers in the field, the book reflects the authors’ firsthand experience in teaching today’s students about religion’s impact on families. Prior to writing the book, the authors read the sacred texts of many faiths, interviewed religious leaders, and attended religious services for a wide array of faiths. The result is an accurate and engaging account of why and how families are impacted by their religion. The pedagogical features of the text include boldfaced key terms defined in the glossary, text boxes, chapter conclusions, summary points, and review questions. 

Religion and Families:

  • Examines several denominations within Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
  • Reviews findings from racially and ethnically diverse families, from traditional and diverse family forms, and examines gender and life-course issues.
  • Addresses the impact of one’s religious involvement on longevity, divorce rates, and parenting styles.
  • Considers demographic, family-, couple-, and individual-level data that relate to prayer and other sacred practices.
  • Presents a balanced treatment of the latest research and a new model for studying family and religion.
  • Explores the "whys," "hows," and processes at work in the religion-family connection.

The book opens with a discussion of why religion and family connections matter. Chapter 2 defines religion and presents a new conceptualization of religion. Empirical research connections between religion and marriage, divorce, family, and parent-child relationships are explored in chapters 3 through 6. The interface between religion and the family in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are reviewed in chapters 7, 8, and 9. Chapter 10 explores the unique challenges that religion presents for diverse family forms. Prayer as a coping mechanism for life’s challenges such as death and disability are explored in chapter 11. Chapter 12 examines forgiveness in the context of marriages and families. The book concludes with a review of the book’s most important themes and findings.

Intended as a text for undergraduate courses in family and religion, the psychology or sociology of the family, the psychology or sociology of religion, pastoral/biblical counseling, or family and youth ministry, taught in human development and family studies, psychology, sociology, religion, social work, pastoral counseling, and sometimes philosophy. This book also appeals to family therapists and counselors.


"Scholarship on families and research on religion have generally run along parallel tracks. Religion and Families builds valuable bridges across these areas with compelling evidence about religion’s profound role in shaping family life today." - John P. Bartkowski, University of Texas at San Antonio

"Drawing from psychology, sociology, religion, and family studies, this is the first text to bridge scholarship between the fields of family and religion. Marks and Dollahite are seasoned researchers and writers with a ton of classroom teaching experience, and it shows in this delightfully written text." – Vern Bengtson, University of Southern California

"Marks and Dollahite have produced a gem of a text. They give admirably balanced attention to the positive and negative roles of religious beliefs, practices, and communities in shaping intimate relationships, parenting, and other facets of family life." – Christopher G. Ellison, University of Texas at San Antonio

"Marks and Dollahite provide needed insights on the role of religious beliefs and practices in studies of families. Through an engaging writing style, they intersect two of the most important social spheres in American life." – Patricia Snell Herzog, University of Arkansas

"Marks and Dollahite address the BIG questions of life and faith in this well-crafted, practical text that integrates the latest developmental and family research with insightful discourse on the lived experiences of diverse people." – Rob Palkovitz, University of Delaware

Table of Contents

1. Why Religion Matters to You Right Now and in Your Future Family 2. What in the World is Religion? 3. Does Religion Matter to Families? 4. Why Does Religion Matter in Marriage? 5. The Influence of Religious Beliefs in Marriage 6. Parenting in Faith- What Research Has Found 7. Parenting and American Families of Faith 8. Muslim Families in the United States 9. Jewish Families in the United States 10. Religion and Diverse Family Forms 11. How Religion Influences Coping with Stress and Challenges in Families 12. Forgiveness, Faith, and Families 13. What We Have Learned and What We Hope You Will Take With You

About the Authors

Loren D. Marks is a professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University and co-director of the American Families of Faith research project.

David C. Dollahite is a professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University and co-director of the American Families of Faith research project.

About the Series

Textbooks in Family Studies

The Textbooks in Family Studies Series is an interdisciplinary series that offers cutting edge textbooks in family studies and family psychology. Volumes can be complete textbooks and/or supplementary texts for the undergraduate and/or graduate markets. Both authored and edited volumes are welcome.

Please contact the series editor, Robert Milardo at, for details in preparing a proposal that should include the goal of the book, table of contents, an overview of competing texts, the intended market including course name(s) and level, and suggested reviewers.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Marriage & Family
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology of Religion