Counting the Nonreligious: A critical review of new measures

Thomas Coleman III, Jonathan Jong

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    The rise of the “nones” — individuals who are variously nonreligious — has recently piqued the interest of social scientists, not least because levels of secularization in the United States seem to now be catching up to those in Western Europe. The study of the nonreligious, though, can sometimes seem like the study of people who do not play ball, as terms like nonreligious, atheist, and agnostic are defined in terms of absence. The consequent methodological assumption is that measures of nonreligiosity are simply reverse-scored measures of religiosity. This assumption, however, oversimplifies the phenomenon. Like religiosity, nonreligiosity is a multidimensional phenomenon. Just as there are different religious orientations — intrinsic, extrinsic, quest, fundamentalist, and so forth — there are also different ways of being nonreligious. Just as there are multiple routes to religion, so it is for nonreligion. And just as there are religious interpretations of human experiences, there are nonreligious experiences of awe and value and meaning. In this chapter, we consider the conceptual issues involved in the measurement of nonreligious phenomena and introduce the reader to five scales measuring nonreligiosity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAssessing Spirituality in a Diverse World
    EditorsAmy L. Ai, Paul Wink, Raymond F. Paloutzian, Kevin A. Harris
    Place of PublicationNew York
    Number of pages30
    ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-52140-0
    ISBN (Print)978-3-030-52139-4
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Dec 2020


    • atheism
    • nonreligion
    • psychology of religion
    • secularity


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