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Date Presented:May 31, 2004
Social scientists often explain religious effects in terms of religious group affiliations. Typically, researchers identify religious groups by denomination or some broader popular categorization, such as "fundamentalist," or "evangelical." To better capture religious differences, Steensland et al. (2000) propose an intricate classification of American denominations which takes into account the theology and historical development of various American religious traditions. In response, we propose to replace the reliance on indirect denominational and other group membership as inferential measures of religiousness with a more appropriate direct measure: conceptions of God. This simple measure predicts church attendance rates, belief in biblical literalism, party identification, abortion attitudes, and sexual morality attitudes. In addition, this indicator provides a means to understand variation within religious traditions. God?s character proves the most straightforward way to describe religious differences and the most efficient way to demonstrate how religion impacts the world.