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After the New Age

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This article explores the connections between conventional religion and the New Age, using data from a major online questionnaire study, Survey2001, that was sponsored by the National Geographic Society and the National Science Foundation. It begins with two competing hypotheses. (1) Involvement in conventional religion discourages involvement in unconventional para-religion because conventional religion competes with para-religion. (2) Conventional religion encourages unconventional para-religion by promulgating supernatural assumptions about the nature of humanity and the universe. Factor analysis of 20 putatively New Age agree-disagree questionnaire items reveals that 15 of them define a general New Age factor, supported by secondary anti-paranormal and anti-alien factors. Three measures of conventional religiousness show complex relations to the New Age items. Analysis using factor scores indicates that both hypotheses express real effects that cancel each other out for many people. Individual subjective religiousness and personal prayer or meditation correlate strongly positively with the New Age among respondents who never attend religious services. The study considers denominational differences, then concludes by showing that a curvilinear relationship exists between religiousness and acceptance of New Age beliefs.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA

Publication date: 2004-09-01

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