Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Americans May Be More Religious Than They Realize - washingtonpost.com

Americans May Be More Religious Than They Realize - washingtonpost.com:
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"A survey released yesterday posits the idea that the United States -- already one of the most religious nations in the developed world -- may be even less secular than previously suspected.

The Baylor University survey looked carefully at people who checked "none" when asked their religion in polls. Sociologists have watched this group closely since 1990, when their numbers doubled, from 7 percent of the population to 14 percent. Some sociologists said the jump reflects increasing secularization at the same time that American society is becoming more religious.

But the Baylor survey, considered one of the most detailed ever conducted about religion in the United States, found that one in 10 people who picked "no religion" out of 40 choices did something interesting when asked later where they worship: They named a place. ..."

The trick here is to get people to agree to a longer, more detailed survey rather than the short yes/no kinds of questions. Such polls as the CNN "instant polls", besides relying on a self selected pool of respondents, also force people into binary choices on complex issues. More detailed polls risk having people decline to respond.

It sounds like the Baylor poll was able to ask questions in a way that other polls have not been able to.

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2 comments:

Quotidian Grace said...

Saw this in the Houston Chronicle this morning and also thought it was very interesting. Thanks for calling attention to it, Denis.

Denis Hancock said...

It is interesting, especially the fact that asking the question in a different way can yield such different answers.

I'd like to take the time and read the entire poll.