Stellway (l 973) created the Chris- Practical Consulerations: In Stellway’s CHRISTIAN CONSERVATISM SCALE  to measure com- vestigation, all data were obtained through mitments to the theological, anthropologi- interviews. His scale, nevertheless, could be cal, and epistemological assumptions of employed as a simple paper-and-pencil test. conservative Christianity. As described by Standard instructions would have to preface Stellway, conservative Christians view God the items. Such an instrument would offer a as an all-wise, personal, and morally pure usefully brief and face valid assessment of supernatural power. In contrast, such Chris- Christian conservatism as defined by Stelltians view human beings as relatively ignoway. Subjects could probably complete this rant and tainted by sin. Because of these and scale within five minutes. The reading level other imperfections, humans cannot rely on should not be too demanding. reason and science to solve their most im­ portant problems. True solutions must come from the Bible and church authorities. Ulti­mately, a person must accept divine forgive­ ness, and social life must reflect biblical standards.


Stellway operationalized Chris­ tian conservatism as part of his effort to test the hypothesis that religious and sociopoliti­cal conservatism covary directly. His scale consisted of one negatively worded statement and six positively worded statements. Indi­ viduals responded to each statement on a 5- point strongly disagree (l) to strongly agree

continuum. Stellway examined the aver­ age rating per item, but all seven responses could be added together to create a total Christian Conservatism score, ranging from 7 to 35.


All 322 of Stellway’s subjects were 25- to 50-year-old white male heads of households. They came from rural areas and a small town in west-central Illinois. Stellway failed to report the mean and standard deviation of his Christian Conservatism scores. Thus, there is little useful normative data for this scale.


No reliability data were supplied by Stellway.


Stellway presented a number of findings supporting the validity of his scale. As would be expected, Christian Conservatism correlated inversely with a measure of Christian liberalism (-.48). Other data in­ volved an examination of partial correlations controlling for education and occupational status. In these analyses, the Christian Conservatism Scale yielded expected linkages with a commitment to maintaining the status quo in American society (.21) and with a per­sonally expressed conservative political preference (.26).

Considerations within the sociological lit­ eratureled Stellway to hypothesize that par­tial correlations would be more robust in in­dividuals who had unfulfilled occupational aspirations. When the relevant subsample was explored, Christian Conservativism did indeed correlate more strongly with a status quo orientation (.36) and with a self-pro­ fessed political conservatism (.40).


Stellway, R. J. (1973). The correspondence be­ tween religious orientation and sociopolitical liber­alism and conservatism. Sociological Quarterly, 14, 430-439.

Recent Research: Since its publication, Stellway’s study has been cited on numerous occasions, but his Christian Conservatism Scale has seen little use. Hunter (1981) criti­cized the instrument for “subtle” inadequa­cies as an operationalization of evangelical­ ism. This scale, he argued, insufficiently records traditional Christian beliefs about sin and forgiveness. Boivin, Darling, and Dar­ ling (1987), nevertheless, found that this in­strument had at least some validity when used with Christian samples. They also ob­tained a coefficient alpha of .86, thereby doc­umenting its internal reliability as well.

Christian Conservatism Scale

[The items below should be preceded by standard questionnaire instructions. Subjects react to each statement using the following response options: “strongly agree” (5), “agree” (4), “neutral or no opinion” (3), “disagree” (2), and “strongly disagree” (I).]


  1. All Biblical miracles happened just as the Bible says they did.
  2. A man must seek God’s forgiveness to enjoy fellowship with Him.
  3. Jesus was more than a great prophet; he was God’s only son.
  4. *4. Biblical miracles did not happen as the Bible says they did but have been used as examples.
  5. If they stay true to God, people who suffer in this life are sure to be rewarded in the next.
  6. Religious truth is higher than any other form of truth.
  7. The Bible is God’s message to man and all that it says is true.


Hunter, J. D. (1981). Operationalizing evangeli­calism: A review, critique and proposal. Sociologi­cal Analysis, 42, 363-372.

Boivin, M. J., Darling, H. W., & Darling, T. W. (l 987). Racial prejudice among Christian and non­ Christian collge students. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 15, 47-56.

Stellway, R.l. (l 973). The correspondence between religious orientation and sociopolitical liberalism and conservatism. Sociological Quarterly, 14, 430-439. Copyright© 1973 by the Midwest Sociological Society. Reprinted with permission.


1 An asterisk (*) identifies a negatively scored item for which 5 = I, 4 = 2, 3 = 3, 2 = 4, and I = 5.