Atheists on the Santiago way

Miguel Farias, Thomas Joseph Coleman III, James E Bartlett, Lluis Oviedo, Pedro Soares, Tiago Santos, María del Carmen Bas

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36 Citations (Scopus)
62 Downloads (Pure)


In the past 30 years, the camino to Santiago de Compostela has been recreated as an eclectic pilgrimage, open to both religious and atheist travelers. Following previous work on motivational orientations and religion, we conducted a study examining atheist versus religious pilgrims’ motivations to walk the Santiago way. We assessed pilgrims (N = 360) at various parts of the northern Spanish camino using a questionnaire that measured motivations to go on pilgrimage. In addition, we measured levels of positive and negative affect, physical exertion, and emotional problems. Atheists scored significantly lower on community and religious types of motivations. However, in several measures no differences were found between groups. We suggest that both atheist and religious pilgrims are exploring forms of horizontal and vertical transcendence characterized by a desire to connect to nature and one’s deeper self.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28–44
Number of pages17
JournalSociology of Religion
Issue number1
Early online date12 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Sociology of Religion following peer review. The version of record Farias, M, Coleman III, TJ, Bartlett, JE, Oviedo, L, Soares, P, Santos, T & del Carmen Bas, M 2018, 'Atheists on the Santiago way' Sociology of Religion, vol (in press), sry019, pp. (in press) is available online at:


  • Atheism
  • Horizontal transcendence
  • Motivation
  • Pilgrimage
  • Religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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