Document Type



Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society & Culture

Publication Date



This paper examines three dimensions of American religion--belonging, behavior and belief--by creating a single, unified scale of religiosity and testing it with the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) and the General Social Survey (GSS). It shows that certain combinations of those three variables are far more common than others, and demonstrates changes over time in the percentage of people belonging to each cluster, with a trend toward diminishing religiosity. The paper identifies socio-demographic and geographic factors that are associated with the religiosity cluster to which a person belongs. The paper examines the ability of the new scale to predict how people will answer questions on contentious societal issues, using belief in evolution as a case study. The most religious definitely reject human evolution while the most secular definitely believe in it.


Originally published as:

Keysar, A 2014. Shifts Along the American Religious-Secular Spectrum. Secularism and Nonreligion3:1, DOI:

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License

(, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Included in

Religion Commons