Review of Religious Research

Published by JSTOR

Online ISSN: 2211-4866


Print ISSN: 0034-673X


Gender Differences in Attitudes toward Abortion among Protestant Seminarians
  • Article

July 1996


26 Reads

Although there are a few studies of pastors' attitudes toward abortion, they have not included women pastors, nor have there been many studies of gender issues in the seminary student population. In this study, data from a sample of 81 Master of Divinity students at a Presbyterian seminary are used to compare the attitudes toward abortion of men and women. It is found that the men are more conservative on this issue than the general public, while the women are more liberal than average. This may reflect a differential "selection" into the ministry of men and women in terms of values about feminist issues. The increase in women in ministry may thus have an influence on the church's position on abortion and similar issues.

The Differential Impact of Religious Preference and Church Attendance on Attitudes Toward Abortion

February 1979


43 Reads

The relationships among religious preference, church attendance, and the consequences of religion are explored in terms of the acceptance/rejection of the legalization of abortion. The analysis focuses upon the attitudinal consequences of religious preference and participation in religious services among a representative sample of white Protestant and Catholic adults. The findings indicate that religious preference and church attendance are not always mutually reinforcing in their consequences for secular life. Individuals who rank high on attendance tend to be members of "moral communities" reflecting anti-abortion positions, regardless of the degree of liberal ideologies normally associated with certain church or denominational preferences.

Religion and Opposition to Abortion Reconsidered

January 1986


12 Reads

Opposition to legalized abortion is related to religious preferences of a stratified national sample of entering college freshmen (n = 18,004). Categories of preference ranked from high to low opposition are: Latter-Day Saints, Roman Catholics, Adventist, small Protestant denominations, Baptist, Hispanic R. Catholic, other religions (not listed), Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Muslim, Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregational, Episcopalian, Quaker, none/no preference, Jewish, and Unitarian. The relationship between attitude toward abortion and religious preference is not spurious when additive relationships of both with attendance at religious services, region and mother's education are controlled. However, significant first-order interactions of preference with attendance, region and mother's education are observed. Results suggest that the relationship between religion and opposition to abortion may be more complicated than previous research has indicated.

Reexamination of Religious Influences on Abortion Attitudes

April 1992


21 Reads

Prior research indicates religious variables and moral attitudes toward sexuality powerfully affect abortion attitudes. This study addresses why religious variables are so influential for abortion attitudes. These patterns are particularly significant at present because legal restrictions on abortion are changing and the object of much controversy. This study reexamines several religious and other influences on abortion attitudes with original survey data. Demographic variables are moderately strong predictors in the sample. Religious variables, especially conservative church membership and personal piety, are more strongly associated with abortion dispositions than political variables. Sexual moralism is the strongest predictor in our data. Absence of consensus on the morality of abortion in the larger society maximizes the influence of religion on this attitude. Although attitudes toward abortion are sometimes presented in popular media as polarized, with pro-life and pro-choice activists asserting uncompromising positions on each side, we conclude that polarization does not characterize the general public's abortion attitudes. Our findings suggest instead that most persons are deeply ambivalent about abortion. Sociological factors influencing that ambivalence are discussed as well as political prospects for the controversy.

Religion and Attitudes toward Anti-Abortion Protest

January 1991


17 Reads

Tolerance for the conventional political activities of the pro-life movement is analyzed with data from a survey conducted in Lexington, Kentucky. In the context of the abortion issue domain, secularists, fundamentalists, and Catholics exhibit high tolerance. This finding persists even when attitudes toward the pro-life movement, frequency of church attendance, and a number of other predictors of tolerance are included in the analysis.

Orthodoxy and Attitudes of Clergymen Towards Homosexuality and Abortion

February 1977


15 Reads

Attitudes of clergymen toward homosexuality and abortion are examined vis-a-vis two main variables: orthodoxy and the often experienced contradictory implications of clergymen's moral and civil views. The relationship between orthodoxy and attitudes toward homosexuality and abortion is controlled for size of city of upbringing, age, and political party preference. The results indicate a moderately negative relationship between orthodoxy and acceptance of homosexuality and abortion; the relationship holds in the face of the controls. It was also found that those clergymen with a less unidimensional approach to life--i.e., who distinguish between what they feel is right from a moral, religious standpoint and what is right from a civil standpoint--are the most accepting of the two social issues. The significance of religious orientation in determining attitudes toward social issues is noted.

Ecumenism and Abortion: A Case Study of Pluralism, Privatization and the Public Conscience

April 1989


27 Reads

This paper uses the Churches' responses to the controversy over abortion as a measure of the internalization of ecumenism. The data used in the essay include interviews with ecumenical officers and the minutes of the American Bishops Pro-life Committee. The main conclusion is that during the controversy "mainstream" Protestantism and Roman Catholicism reverted to post-Reformation and pre-Vatican II ideological roles, with Catholicism opposing under the banner of objective moral truth the legalization of abortion and liberal Protestantism under the banner of subjective conscience providing a belated religious justification to the legalization promoted first by secularist activists. This reversal to historic ideological roles actually distorted the more nuanced positions of these Churches in the controversy, but the lack of an ecumenical context obscured these shared tensions and prevented the Churches from contributing to a better public structuring of the moral ambiguities most Americans felt and still experience about abortion and the extent of its legalization. The essay concludes that only in an ecumenical context can religious pluralism lead to more inclusive moral commitments rather than to a further privatization of religion.

Fig. 1 Discordance between mothers and adolescents within each profile, expressed as the absolute value of the standardized estimated mean scores  
Table 1 Descriptive statistics for demographic and analysis variables
Table 4 Post-hoc tests of profile differences in marginal means of adolescent/mother relations
Constructing Profiles of Religious Agreement and Disagreement Between Adolescents and Mothers: A Research Note
  • Article
  • Full-text available

June 2012


101 Reads

This research note describes the use of latent class analysis to examine how three dimensions of religiosity-the importance of religion (religious salience), attendance at religious services, and frequency of prayer-cluster together to form unique profiles. Building upon recent research identifying different profiles of religiosity at the level of the individual, we used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to identify dyadic profiles of religious concordance or discordance between 14,202 adolescents and their mothers. We identified five profiles: one concordant (27% of sample), two discordant (25% of sample), and two of mixed concordance/discordance (49%). The profiles distinguish between various levels of adolescent/mother relations, suggesting that they may represent distinct family dynamics. They also distinguish between several variables (race, adolescent age, geographical region) in predictable ways, providing additional demonstration of the categories' meaningfulness.

Social Relationships in the Church During Late Life: Assessing Differences Between African Americans, Whites, and Mexican Americans

September 2011


188 Reads

The purpose of this study is to see if there are differences in the social relationships that older African Americans, older whites, and older Mexican Americans form with the people where they worship. Data from two nationwide surveys are pooled to see if race differences emerge in eleven different measures of church-based social relationships. These measures assess social relationships with rank-and-file church members as well as social relationships with members of the clergy. The findings reveal that older African Americans tend to have more well-developed social relationships in the church than either older whites or older Mexican Americans. This is true with respect to relationships with fellow church members as well as relationships with the clergy. In contrast, relatively few differences emerged between older Americans of European descent and older Mexican Americans. However, when differences emerged in the data, older whites tend to score higher on the support measures than older Mexican Americans.

Exploring the Interface Between Religion and Contact with the Dead Among Older Mexican Americans

January 2010


119 Reads

The purpose of the current study is to examine the relationship between religion and post death contact among older Mexican Americans. Four major themes emerged from 52 in-depth interviews that were conducted with Older Mexican Americans residing in Texas. First, many older study participants told us they had contact with the dead, but others indicated this was not possible. Second, the form in which contact with the dead was made varied greatly. Some older Mexican Americans reported they had visual contact with the dead, while others said they only made contact with the dead through dreams. Third, although some older Mexican American study participants believed that it was in the best interests of the dead to contact the living, others felt the dead should instead be in Heaven with God. Fourth, the participants in our study reported that having contact with the dead provides a number of important social and psychological benefits. In the process of discussing these themes, an emphasis is placed on how beliefs and experiences with the dead interface with religion. In addition, we also explore how post death contact may be associated with health and well-being in late life.

Table 2 Main effects of ill-health constructs and other predictors on subsequent religiosity 
Enhanced Religiosity Following Illness? Assessing Evidence of Religious Consolation Among Black and White Americans

December 2013


44 Reads

This study assesses variation among Black and White Americans in the impact of ill-health on public and subjective religiosity. It is the first longitudinal assessment of race-based variation in "religious consolation." The under-explored consolation thesis anticipates ill-health influencing religiosity rather than the reverse, with religiosity functioning as a coping resource marshaled by the ill. Effects across races of physical ill-health indicators (chronic illnesses and impaired functioning) on religiosity outcomes are the main focus; but across-race variation in psychological distress-induced "consolation" is also assessed. Findings yield only limited evidence of consolation in each race, and restricted variation across races: Change in impaired functioning slightly enhances Whites' subjective religiosity; but that effect does not significantly eclipse the impact among Blacks. There is no evidence of physical illness-induced consolation among Blacks; and the proposition that Blacks are more inclined toward consolation than Whites is affirmed only for psychological distress. There are no signs in either race that consolation is intensified by aging or higher religiosity, and no significant across-race differentials in effects of these illness-age and illness-religiosity interactions on subsequent religiosity. The multi-population model utilizes Americans' Changing Lives data.

Reported Contact with the Dead, Religious Involvement, and Death Anxiety in Late Life

June 2011


64 Reads

The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between contact with the dead and death anxiety. The data come from an ongoing nationwide survey of older adults. A conceptual model is developed that contains the following theoretical linkages: (1) making contact with the dead instills a deeper appreciation of the connection that exists among all people; (2) this fundamental sense of connectedness with others fosters a deeper sense of religious meaning in life; and (3) individuals with a deeper sense of religious meaning in life are less likely to experience feelings of death anxiety than people who have not been able to find meaning in life through religion. The findings from this study provide support for each of these relationships. The theoretical implications of these hypotheses are discussed.

Table 2 Impact of worship-based discourse on support for race-based policies: logit regression analyses: odds ratios 
Worship Discourse and White Race-Based Policy Attitudes

June 2014


95 Reads

The current study relies upon the 2004 National Politics Study to examine the association between exposure to race-based messages within places of worship and White race-based policy attitudes. The present study challenges the notion that, for White Americans, religiosity inevitably leads to racial prejudice. Rather, we argue, as others have, that religion exists on a continuum that spans from reinforcing to challenging the status quo of social inequality. Our findings suggests that the extent to which Whites discuss race along with the potential need for public policy solutions to address racial inequality within worship spaces, worship attendance contributes to support for public policies aimed at reducing racial inequality. On the other hand, apolitical and non-structural racial discussions within worship settings do seemingly little to move many Whites to challenge dominant idealistic perceptions of race that eschews public policy interventions as solutions to racial inequality.

Religious Involvement among Caribbean Blacks in the United States

December 2010


67 Reads

This study examined demographic and denominational differences in religious involvement (i.e., organizational, non-organizational, subjective) among Caribbean Blacks (Black Caribbeans) residing in the U.S. using data from the National Survey of American Life. Caribbean Blacks who were born in the U.S. had lower levels of religious involvement than those who immigrated and respondents originating from Haiti (as compared to Jamaica) had higher levels of religious involvement, while persons from Trinidad-Tobago reported lower service attendance than did Jamaicans. Older persons, women and married persons generally demonstrated greater religious involvement than their counterparts, while highly educated respondents expressed lower levels of self-rated religiosity. Denominational differences indicated that Baptists reported high levels of religious involvement; however, in several cases, Pentecostals and Seventh Day Adventists reported greater involvement.

Church-Based Emotional Support And Self-Forgiveness in Late Life

September 2010


37 Reads

The purpose of this study is to see whether emotional support from fellow church members is associated with self-forgiveness in late life. The data come from a longitudinal nationwide survey of older adults. An effort is made to contribute to the literature by comparing and contrasting the effects of two church-based support measures: the amount of emotional support that is provided by fellow church members and satisfaction with emotional support from co-religionists. The findings suggest that older study participants who are more satisfied with the emotional support they have received from the members of their church are more likely to forgive themselves than older people who are not satisfied with the emotional support they have received in church. In contrast, significant effects failed to emerge with the measure of the amount of received emotional support.

Figure 1.  
Close Companion friends In Church And Health In Late Life

December 2009


68 Reads

This study has two principal aims. The first goal is to empirically evaluate new measures of close companion friendships that arise in church. The second goal is to embed these measures in a conceptual model that seeks to assess the relationship between close companion friends at church and health. Based on data from a nationwide sample of older people, the findings reveal that the newly devised measures are psychometrically sound. In addition, the results provide empirical support for the following linkages that are contained in our conceptual model: older people who have a close companion friend at church are more likely to feel they belong in their congregation; old adults who believe they belong in their congregation are more likely to feel grateful to God; and older individuals who feel grateful to God tend to rate their health more favorably.

Table 1 
Table 3 
Religious Doubts and Sleep Quality: Findings from a Nationwide Study of Presbyterians

November 2011


158 Reads



Jennifer Storch




A growing literature examines the correlates and sequelae of spiritual struggles, such as religious doubts. To date, however, this literature has focused primarily on a handful of mental health outcomes (e.g., symptoms of depression, anxiety, negative affect), while the possible links with other aspects of health and well-being, such as poor or disrupted sleep, have received much less attention. After reviewing relevant theory and previous studies, we analyze data from a nationwide sample of Presbyterian Church (USA) members to test the hypothesis that religious doubts will be inversely associated with overall self-rated sleep quality, and positively associated with the frequency of sleep problems and the use of sleep medications. We also hypothesize that part of this association will be explained by the link between religious doubts and psychological distress. Results offer moderate but consistent support for these predictions. We end with a discussion of the implications of these findings, a brief mention of study limitations, and some suggestions for future research.

The Effects of Education on Americans’ Religious Practices, Beliefs, and Affiliations

November 2011


3,201 Reads

I challenge the scholarly contention that increases in education uniformly lead to declines in religious participation, belief, and affiliation. I argue that education influences strategies of action, and these strategies of action are relevant to some religious beliefs and activities but not others. Analysis of survey data shows that (1) education negatively affects exclusivist religious viewpoints and biblical literalism but not belief in God or the afterlife; (2) education positively affects religious participation, devotional activities, and emphasizing the importance of religion in daily life; (3) education positively affects switching religious affiliations, particularly to a mainline Protestant denomination, but not disaffiliation; (4) education is positively associated with questioning the role of religion in secular society but not with support for curbing the public opinions of religious leaders; and (5) the effects of education on religious beliefs and participation vary across religious traditions. Education does influence Americans’ religious beliefs and activities, but the effects of education on religion are complex. KeywordsEducation–Social class–Culture–Religious tradition

Forced Termination of American Clergy: Its Effects and Connection to Negative Well-Being

March 2012


555 Reads

Forced termination of clergy involves constant negativity found in personal attacks and criticism from a small congregational faction. The minister feels psychologically pressured to step down from the ministry position and this process is often demeaning to the emotional and physical well-being of the minister. The prevalence of forced termination among clergy has ranged from 25% among many denominations to 41% among Assemblies of God ministers. Forced termination and its effects are serious problems that have yet to be adequately addressed by scholars in social science research. The lack of scholarly research in this area called for a large national study from a reputable research institution. This online study shows that 28% of ministers among 39 denominations experienced a forced termination. Forced termination was associated with high levels of depression, stress, and physical health problems. Forced termination was also associated with low levels of self-efficacy, and self-esteem. KeywordsClergy–Families and work–Forced termination–Occupational stress–Mental health

The Intergenerational Transmission of Churchgoing in England and Australia

January 2008


48 Reads

The family is an important setting for the transmission of values and traditions, and parents have a significant influence on the religious involvement of their children. The family typically provides an initial religious identity and introduces children to religious beliefs, practices and a network of adherents. For both scholars and practitioners, the question of how religion does or does not come to be passed on in families is of crucial importance. In this study we use data from the 2001 International Congregational Life Survey to examine church attendance across three generations in England and Australia. In both England and Australia there is a strong tendency for couples to attend church together; they are making joint decisions and, when churchgoing is favored, encouraging each other in religious practice. The impact of two churchgoing parents on their children is considerably stronger than that of one alone. Our analysis shows that not only parental but also grandparental religious activity has a significant effect. While much of their influence simply results from the upbringing they gave their own children, a substantial proportion of it seems likely to be a direct, unmediated effect on grandchildren. KeywordsChurch attendance–Grandparents–Surveys–Religiosity–Socialization

Table 1 Descriptive statistics for variables used in the analyses
Religiousness, Spirituality, and Psychological Distress in Taiwan

November 2011


368 Reads

Most of the previous research on religion and mental health has focused solely on Western, predominantly Christian societies. Using a 2004 national survey of 1,881 adults in Taiwan, this study investigates the relationships between multidimensional measures of religiousness/spirituality and psychological distress in an Eastern context. Our findings differ from previous studies in the West, showing that: (1) religious-based supernatural beliefs are associated with more distress; (2) daily prayer is associated with less distress; (3) engaging in secular-based supernatural activities like fortune-telling is related to more distress; and (4) the frequency of religious attendance is unrelated to levels of distress. Broader theoretical and empirical implications of these findings are discussed. KeywordsReligiousness–Spirituality–Psychological distress–Mental health–Taiwan

Cults, Converts and Charisma: The Sociology of New Religious Movement

June 1991


274 Reads

In this wide-ranging survey Thomas Robbins assesses the state of the art in sociological and related work on new religious movements. Concentrating on research on movements in the USA and Western Europe, he analyzes theories relating the growth of new religions to sociocultural changes, the dynamics of conversion to and defection from movements, patterns of organization and institutionalization, and social controversies over cults. He also examines the impact of the study of new and deviant movements on the sociology of religion in general, and the implications of recent spiritual ferment for previous models of secularization and sect-church theory. The book concludes with a comprehensive bibliography. This text will be essential reading for all students and researchers in the sociology of religion and in religious studies. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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