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God in America: Why Theology Is Not Simply the Concern of Philosophers

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As citizens of the most technologically advanced and economically developed country in the world, nearly all Americans stalwartly maintain their faith in God, much more so than residents of other postindustrial countries ( Norris and Ingelhart 2004). But what is the content and meaning of this belief? Perhaps belief in God has become so pervasive in contemporary American culture that it reflects little about believers' deeper religious thoughts, identities, and actions. We find the opposite to be true. Outside the confines of seminaries, competing beliefs about who God is and what God wants have a clear and important connection to everyday religious life in the United States. Subtle distinctions in American images of God powerfully predict religious diversity as measured by belief in the truth of a single religious faith, religious devotion, and attitudes about the compatibility of secular and religious spheres. More specifically, we discern that American religious conservatism, in all its forms, can be aptly characterized by the belief that God is highly engaged in the world and particularly judgmental of human behavior.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Paul Froese is an Assistant Professor in the Sociology Department at Baylor University, One Bear Place #97326, Waco, TX 79798-7326., Email: Paul_Froese@baylor.edu. 2: Christopher D. Bader is an Assistant Professor in the Sociology Department at Baylor University.

Publication date: 2007-12-01

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