The purpose of the Attitude toward Church and Religious Practices Scale was to quantify church and sect so that these theo­retical concepts might be incorporated into appropriate empirical studies. “Church” sig­nifies a religious organization that is rooted securely in the prevailing social order and integrates prevailing cultural concepts into its beliefs and practices. “Sect” identifies a religious group that disdains cultural confor­mity and creates a separate subculture with rigid belief and practice boundaries.


The original scale items were written to measure a respondent’s prefer­ence for a church or a sect orientation. The scale consists of 24 items. The respondent provides a numerical response from 1 (“strongly agree”) to 5 (“strongly disagree”) for each question. The summed item scores may range from 24 to 120, with lower scores indicating preference for a sect reli­giosity and higher scores indicating prefer­ence for a church religiosity.

Practical Considerations:

The scale is easy to administer, requiring only simple instruc­tions concerning the response continuum. An individual’s score is derived by adding together responses to the 24 items (with items 2, 6, 7, IO reversed scored).


An initial pool of 35 items was written to reflect church or sect orientation. These original questions were pretested on a sample of 55 respon­dents selected from a Protestant church in Columbus, Ohio. An internal consistency analysis led to the rejection of 11 items that lacked discriminatory power. Four church and 20 sect items constitute the 24 items selected for the scale.


The split-half reliability for the pretest sample (N = 55) was .86 (corrected by the Spearman-Brown formula to .92). A subsample of 100 persons, randomly selected from the 360 residents of Columbus who constituted the final study sample, gave a split-half reliability of .70 (corrected to .82).


The theoretical background for this scale assumes a measured difference be­ tween members of groups defined by “church” and members of groups defined by “sect.” As expected, a sample of church members (Episcopalian, Presbyterian) had a mean of 76.1, which was significantly different from the sect members’ (Holiness, Pentecostal, Church of God, Nazarene, Bap­tist) mean of 58.1. Also, ten sociologists re­cruited from several denominations demon­strated 98% agreement in classification of items as church or sect.

Attitude toward Church and Religious Practices

Directions: Put a 1 before those statements with which you strongly agree, a 2 before those statements with which you mildly agree, a 3 before those statements toward which you are neu­tral, a 4 before those with which you mildly disagree, and a 5 before those with which you strongly disagree.

  1. I think a minister should preach without expecting to get paid for it.
  2. *I think it is more important to live a good life now than to be bothered about life after death.
  3. I think a person who is not willing to follow all the rules of the church should not be al­ lowed to belong.
  4. Testifying about one’s religious experience should be a part of a regular church service.
  5. I feel that a congregation should encourage the minister during his sermon by saying amen.
  6. *I think that we should emphasize education in religion and not conversion.
  7. *I think that there is practically no difference between what the different Protestant churches believe.
  8. I think a person should make a testimony about his religion before he joins a church.
  9. In church, I would rather sing the hymns myself than hear the choir sing.
  10. *I think being a success in one’s job is one mark of a good Christian.
  11. A minister who is “called” is better than one who is “trained.”
  12. I like the “old-time” religion.
  13. I think churches should have more revivals.
  14. I think it would be wrong for a church member to have a job as a bartender.
  15. I think a person should feel his religion before he joins a church.
  16. I like to sing the old gospel songs rather than the new hymns.
  17. I don’t believe churches do enough about saving souls.
  18. Heaven and Hell are very real to me.
  19. All the miracles in the Bible are true.
  20. Children should not become members of the church until they are old enough to under- stand it.
  21. I think it is more important to go to church than to be active in politics.
  22. I wish ministers would preach more on the Bible and less on politics.
  23. I think it is more serious to break God’s law than to break man’s law.
  24. I think every family should have family prayers or say grace before meals.

* indicates reversed scoring


Dynes, R. R. (1955). Church-sect typology and socio-economic status. American Sociological Re­ view, 20, 555-560.

Subsequent Research:

Garrison, K. C. (1962). The relationship of cer­tain variables to church-sect typology among col­lege students. Journal of Social Psychology, 56, 29-32.