Religion, Trust and Public Society in the United States "CANCELLED"

Thursday, July 17, 2014
Room: 511
Seil OH , Sociology, Sogang University, Seoul, South Korea
Social integration beyond constituents’ diversity becomes a pivotal theme in the public sphere of a democratic society (Charles Taylor): the major conundrum for a post-secular society (Jürgen Harbermas).  Although religions have played a crucial role for collective consciousness in a traditional society, their roles for social integration in a modern and pluralistic society have been put into questions.  I, therefore, focus on “trust in immigrants” as a particular socio-psychological phenomenon which could reflect a religious orientation and their public attitude toward social integration.   

This study, utilizing the Baylor Religion Survey (2005), examines empirically how trust in immigrants is related to various dimensions of religiosity and spirituality.  Besides socio-demographic control variables, explanatory variables include (1) various forms of religious identities (including theists, spiritualists, and non-affiliation), (2) cognitive types of belief (including images of God, New Age interests), (3) ideologies (religious pluralism, moral liberalism), (4) experiential types (traditionally religious experiences and spiritual/mystic experiences), and (5) practices (religious service attendance, prayer, civic group participation).  

The findings demonstrate all forms of religious identities other than affiliated theists (i.e., affiliated spiritualists, atheists/agnostics, and the unaffiliated) show significantly higher levels of trust in immigrants.  The image of God as judge appears to be related to the lower levels of trust in immigrants whereas New Age interests do not have a significant relationship to trust in immigrants (p<.05).  Neither religious pluralism nor moral liberalism appears significantly related to trust in immigrants.  Religious experiences in a traditional sense are not significantly related to trust in immigrants whereas spiritual/mystic experiences leads to higher levels of trust in immigrants.  In terms of practice, both religious service attendance and civic group participation – not merely prayer alone -- appear to be highly related to trust in immigrants.