Better educated more likely go to church

Aug. 21, 2011 at 3:22 PM
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LINCOLN, Neb., Aug. 21 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers challenge the conventional wisdom that the more educated people are, the more likely they are to stop going to church or abandon their faith.

Study author Philip Schwadel, associate professor of sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, analyzed a nationwide sample of thousands of respondents to the General Social Survey.

The study found with each additional year of education, the odds of attending religious services increased 15 percent and the odds of reading the Bible at least occasionally increased by 9 percent.

In addition, the study, published in the journal Review of Religious Research, also found disaffiliating, or dropping religion altogether, was not a popular option for highly educated Americans -- in fact, having a greater level of education was associated most often with converting to mainline, non-evangelical Protestant denominations.

However, the study also found that higher levels of education eroded Americans' viewpoints that their specific religion is the "one true faith" and that the Bible is the literal word of God, but education was positively associated with belief in the afterlife.

"The results suggest that highly educated Americans are not opposed to religion -- even religious leaders stating political opinions," Schwadel said in a statement. "But they are opposed to what may be perceived as religion being forced on secular society."

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