They may not find much meaning in the birth of Jesus Christ, but many atheists embrace religious traditions such as churchgoing for the sake of the children, a new study finds.

The research, which focused on atheist scientists, found that 17 percent of atheists in the study attended a religious service more than once a year. The atheists embraced religious traditions for social and personal reasons, they told the study researchers.

“Our research shows just how tightly linked religion and family are in U.S. society — so much so that even some of society’s least religious people find religion to be important in their private lives,” Rice University sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund, the study’s principal investigator, said in a statement. Ecklund and her colleagues reported their findings in the December issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

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