Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Surprise: Guns and Religion Don't Go Together
Using data from the 2014 Baylor Religion Survey sociologists F. Carson Mencken and Paul Froese found that the more gun owners rated themselves as being moderately or very religious, the less likely they were to be attached to their weapons as sources of power in such areas as respect, safety and self-confidence. They also found that while people who were moderate church attenders were more likely to feel empowered by owning guns, attachment levels dropped for people who attended services weekly or more. Similarly, the sociologist David Yamane, using data from the General Social Surveys (2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012), found that the more people attended services, prayed and were engaged in spiritual groups in congregations, the less likely they were to be gun owners. He also found there was no significant relation between theological conservatism and gun ownership.
Why? Froese suggested that people who are very religious are less likely to be as attached to (non-religious) physical objects such as firearms, and Yamane speculated that the importance of religion may be related to the higher levels of trust people form within religious communities. That is, people who are more trusting of others may feel less of a need to arm themselves.
For a brief summary of the studies, which were presented at the most meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR), see the article by David Briggs, "Religion and guns: Studies find faith linked to lower devotion to firearms." Briggs also discusses what factors appear to contribute to increased attachment to guns.