Changes in Americans' strength of religious affiliation, 1974-2010

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Abstract

I use data from the 1974-2010 General Social Survey to analyze changes in Americans' strength of religious affiliation. Results show little change in the percent of Americans who report a strong affiliation, though the percent with a somewhat/not very strong affiliation declined from 1990 to 2010, as the number of unaffiliated respondents increased. Tradition-specific, age-period-cohort analyses show that the probability of reporting a strong religious affiliation declined considerably among Catholics, predominantly due to period-based effects in the 1980s, and increased among evangelical Protestants, also due to period-based changes. These trends have produced a large gap in the likelihood of having a strong religious affiliation between evangelical Protestants/black Protestants and mainline Protestants/Catholics. Additional analyses show considerable across-cohort changes in the association between religious service attendance and strength of religious affiliation, particularly among Catholics, suggesting that religious identity and religious practice are more loosely connected among younger generations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-128
Number of pages22
JournalSociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review
Volume74
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

Keywords

  • denominations
  • religious change
  • secularization
  • social change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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