While the tragedy of American fatherlessness has evoked a growing body of research, religious beliefs, practices, and communities have not been a significant part of the scholarly discussion. This article discusses possible reasons for this and reviews the religion and family literature with a focus on fathers. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 19 Latter-day Saint (LDS) fathers of children with special needs and analyzed to examine the meaning of religious experience for these fathers and their families. Analysis indicated three dimensions of religious experience: spiritual belief, religious practice, and faith community. The spiritual belief in an eternal perspective, including the potential for family relationships to endure eternally, was identified by the researcher as central. Religious practice was found to be most meaningful when both sacred and relational. Faith community was found to be most beneficial when the congregation [ward] mentioned helped the fathers meet their families' needs. Challenges related to the three dimensions of religious experience are also reported. Religious experience is discussed as a support for responsible fathering, and a conceptual model of religious experience and faithful fathering is presented.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Marks, Loren Dean, "The Meaning of Religious Belief, Practice, and Community for Latter-Day Saint Fathers of Children With Special Needs" (1999). Theses and Dissertations. 4905.
Fathers, sons, Religious aspects, Mormonism