The Persistent and Exceptional Intensity of American Religion: A Response to Recent Research

Landon Schnabel, Sean Bock

Sociological Science, November 27, 2017
DOI 10.15195/v4.a28

Recent research argues that the United States is secularizing, that this religious change is consistent with the secularization thesis, and that American religion is not exceptional. But we show that rather than religion fading into irrelevance as the secularization thesis would suggest, intense religion—strong affiliation, very frequent practice, literalism, and evangelicalism—is persistent and, in fact, only moderate religion is on the decline in the United States. We also show that in comparable countries, intense religion is on the decline or already at very low levels. Therefore, the intensity of American religion is actually becoming more exceptional over time. We conclude that intense religion in the United States is persistent and exceptional in ways that do not fit the secularization thesis.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Landon Schnabel: Department of Sociology, Indiana University Bloomington
Email: lpschnab@indiana.edu

Sean Bock: Department of Sociology, Harvard University
Email: seanbock@g.harvard.edu

Acknowledgements: The authors are grateful to Brian Powell and Clem Brooks for exceptional feedback. Direct correspondence to Landon Schnabel, Department of Sociology, Indiana University Bloomington, 744 Ballantine Hall, 1020 E. Kirkwood Ave., Bloomington, IN 47405.

  • Citation: Schnabel, Landon, and Sean Bock. 2017. “The Persistent and Exceptional Intensity of American Religion: A Response to Recent Research.” Sociological Science 4: 686-700.
  • Received: October 19, 2017
  • Accepted: October 31, 2017
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Olav Sorenson
  • DOI: 10.15195/v4.a28

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