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Journal Article

Who Believes in Religious Evil? An Investigation of Sociological Patterns of Belief in Satan, Hell, and Demons

Joseph Baker
Review of Religious Research
Vol. 50, No. 2 (Dec., 2008), pp. 206-220
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20447562
Page Count: 15
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Who Believes in Religious Evil? An Investigation of Sociological Patterns of Belief in Satan, Hell, and Demons
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Abstract

Very little research has been conducted on sociological patterns of belief in the existence of religious evil such as Satan, hell, or demons. This study uses data from the 2005 Baylor Religion Survey to assess whether sociodemographic factors are associated with belief in religious evil. Results indicate that as income and education levels increase belief in religious evil decreases. However, the effects of social class are conditioned by attendance at religious services, such that frequent attendance at religious services attenuates the influence of social class. In addition to the influence of class, results suggest that women and African Americans hold firmer beliefs in concepts of religious evil. For African Americans these beliefs are influenced by both current social location and religious traditions that incorporate a strong presence of the supernatural. Theoretically this connection is linked to increased suffering and hardship encountered due to holding a social position with less access to power and resources in a social system, with those in positions of disadvantage often looking for explanations in the form of religious evil. For women firmer belief in religious evil reflects higher religiosity for females generally.

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