The more highly educated a person is the more likely he or she is to be religious, according to a new study.
The research found a link between higher levels of education and increased levels of church attendance and bible reading. The study will be published in an upcoming edition of the journal Review of Religious Research.
It found that with each additional year of education:
– The likelihood of attending religious services increased by 15 per cent.
– The likelihood of reading the Bible at least occasionally increased by nine per cent.
– The likelihood of switching to a mainline Protestant denomination - Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian USA or United Methodist - increased by 13 per cent.
The research was conducted by sociologist Philip Schwadel. He used data from the highly regarded General Social Survey, a cumulative and nationally representative survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago biannually since 1972.
Social scientists rely heavily on the “gold standard” General Social Survey, which provides cumulative data collected regularly between 1972 and 2010.
Schwadel told CNN that a higher level of education was associated with higher levels of church attendance but lowers levels of belief in the literal truth of the Bible.
“What it all says to me is that religion matters to people of all education levels in the United States,” he said. “It’s just that, depending on your level of education, you behave and believe differently.”
So why the widespread perception that intellectuals are less religious, even largely irreligious?
Academics are at least moderately less religious than the general public, Schwadel said.
“When we see these trends, we tend to exaggerate them,” he said. “Most people see a trend and they think everyone’s like that.”