Perhaps my recent musings about my friends' daughter were not so far off. The second paragraph below goes into the usual psychobabble about neural wiring. To which I say, anxious parent, anxious child. (See my portrait in blue on this blog. Incidentally, the "mothering" one doesn't have to be the mother. In our friends' case, I would say the father is the mothering one.)
In a research study published by York University in Canada
The researchers found that religious zeal reactions were most pronounced among participants with bold personalities (defined as having high self-esteem and being action-oriented, eager and tenacious) who were already vulnerable to anxiety and felt most hopeless about their daily goals in life.
Findings published last year in the journal Psychological Science by the same authors and collaborators at the University of Toronto found that strong religious beliefs are associated with low activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain that becomes active in anxious predicaments.