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Trust in a “Fallen World”: The Case of Protestant Theological Conservatism

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Important questions remain about religion‐based variations in the propensity to trust. A new perspective on the religion‐trust nexus is proposed by examining Protestant theological conservatism as a moral framework reflected in personal convictions about scripture (the authoritativeness of the Bible), sin (beliefs in human depravity and the existence of hell), and salvation (the need for a born‐again experience to be saved). Findings indicate that personal commitment to this framework is negatively related to the propensity to trust unknown others, net of other religious factors (religious affiliation and involvement). Commitment to this moral framework also suppresses the positive relationship between religious attendance and generalized trust among Christians. The findings highlight a considerable negative relationship between Protestant theological conservatism and generalized trust, while further underscoring the crucial importance of analyzing belief systems, when investigating complex linkages between religious participation, faith, and civic life.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, Colorado State University 2: Department of Social Sciences, University of Maryland-Eastern Shore 3: Department of Sociology, University of Texas—San Antonio

Publication date: September 1, 2012


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