Students who attend US Catholic schools are less likely to go to church but more likely to attend university compared to those who attended ‘Protestant Christian schools’, according to a new survey.
The study, carried out by the University of Notre Dame and Cardus, a Canadian think-tank, found that those who attended Protestant Christian schools were nearly three times more likely to attend religious services than those who attended Catholic schools.
It also revealed that those who attended Protestant Christian schools (the term used in the study in an apparent reference to Evangelical schools) were nearly five times more likely to accept the authority of their church leadership.
The research project analysed the lives of nearly 2,500 American high school graduates between the ages of 24-39, measuring at least 43 different categories of academic, spiritual and civic life.
Those who attended Catholic schools were also far less likely to believe that “morality should be based on absolute standards” as compared to those who attended Protestant schools.
And students who attended Catholic schools were less likely to think that premarital sex and divorce was morally wrong.
The study's authors said: “Compared to their public school, Catholic school and non-religious private school peers, Protestant Christian school graduates are uniquely compliant, generous, outwardly-focused individuals who stabilize their communities by their uncommon commitment to their families, their churches and larger society.
“Graduates of Christian schools donate money [to charity] significantly more than graduates of other schools, despite having lower household income. Similarly, graduates of Protestant Christian schools are more generous with their time, participating far more than their peers both in service trips for relief and development and in mission trips for evangelisation.”
The authors added: “On every measure of traditional religious beliefs, Protestant Christian school graduates show significantly more adherence to the church teachings than their peers, findings that hold up after rigorous controls, indicating the impact of the Protestant Christian school on the long-term religious beliefs of their graduates.”
The study also showed that those who attended Protestant Christian schools were significantly more generous than those who had attended Catholic schools. According to the research, the average size of annual donations to charities by graduates of Protestant Christian schools amounted to nearly $1600 over the average, while donations from graduates of Catholic schools were below average.
However, Catholic schools, whose administrators also reported to Cardus a higher emphasis than their Protestant Christian peers on academic achievement, produced more graduates attending top 20 universities.
“Catholic schools provide superior academic outcomes, an experience that translates into graduates’ enrollment in more prestigious colleges and universities, more advanced degrees and higher household income,” the authors of the study said.