What Americans Really Believe: New Findings from the Baylor Surveys of Religion

Rodney Stark, Author, Kevin Dougherty, Author, Christopher Bader, With . Baylor Univ. $24.95 (209p) ISBN 978-1-60258-178-4

Sociologist Stark has been surveying and observing American religious beliefs and practices for 40 years. This broad experience is reflected in the breadth of questions used to characterize contemporary American religious attitudes; from the Bible to Bigfoot, denomination to Da Vinci Code , beliefs are measured and correlated with oodles of demographics. Stark provides evidence for his overarching theme that some fundamental American religious practices and ideas have remained both stable and diverse as a result of religious competition. The book's numbers will spark lively discussion and questions about inferences drawn from statistics and the ways in which questions were posed. Why, for example, are Catholics not considered a “strict” church that makes demands of members? Why is belief in miraculous physical healing considered mystical and not paranormal? Some will say that snarky snipes (calling other researchers “careless” and disparaging National Public Radio) have no place in data-driven sociology; others will relish a statistics-slinging fight among academics. Regardless, all who find in statistics precise food for thought, as well as articles, more surveys and books, owe Stark and his colleagues at Baylor gratitude. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/14/2008
Release date: 09/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
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