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Recovering the Lost: Remeasuring U.S. Religious Affiliation

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Over the past several decades, survey research has found a growing percentage of Americans claiming no religious affiliation. In this article, we introduce a modified religious traditions (RELTRAD) typology to measure religious affiliation. The approach benefits from a more detailed data collection and coding scheme of religious tradition based upon religious family, denomination, and congregation. Using new national survey data from the Baylor Religion Survey, we find: (1) improvement to survey design and measurement makes it possible to accurately locate more Americans within established religious traditions; (2) Americans remain connected to congregations, but less so to denominations or more generic religious identity labels; and (3) religious adherents are considerably more evangelical than prior studies have found. Finally, we consider how affiliation as a form of religious belonging relates to religious beliefs and behaviors.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Kevin D. Dougherty is Assistant Professor of Sociology and a research fellow in the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University, One Bear Place #97326, Waco, TX 79798-7326. 2: Byron R. Johnson is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. 3: Edward C. Polson is a graduate student in the Department of Sociology at Baylor University.

Publication date: December 1, 2007


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