DIMENSIONS OF RELIGIOUS COMMITMENT

Variable:

 The Dimensions of Religious Commitment Scale is an extensive set of re­ligious measures designed to cover five dimensions of religiosity: belief, ritual, expe­rience, knowledge, and consequences. The latter dimension (consequences) is omitted because it is not strictly a measure of reli­giosity itself. The remaining four dimen­sions are covered by a set of 48 different items, many with multiple subsections.

Glock and Stark made an important con­tribution to the study of religiosity by at­ tempting to develop a comprehensive way of measuring religiosity. Prior to their work most studies picked up on only one or two dimensions of religiosity. Subsequent to Glock and Stark's work it appears no longer satisfactory to measure religiosity in this way.

Weigert and Thomas (1969) raised criti­cisms about the Glock and Stark approach. They pointed to a significant overlap between the belief dimension and knowledge dimension, arguing that both are really part of the ideological domain. Nevertheless, apart from the possibility of an overlap be­ tween these categories, the independence of the other dimensions is not questioned. However, a more critical analysis of Glock and Stark's work by Clayton (1971) and Clayton and Gladden (1974) suggested that all of the dimensions, with the possible ex­ception of a consequential scale, might re­ ally be measuring aspects of religious be­lief.

In contrast, the extensive research pro­ gram conducted by King and Hunt (1975) has offered strong corroboration for the multidimensionality claimed by Glock and

Stark. Using an inductive approach via the technique of factor analysis, King and Hunt found six basic scales that were very close to Glock's belief, experiential, and ritual di­mensions. More recently, Hilty (1988) re­ ported results from an ongoing religious measures project that also support a multidi­mensional approach.

Description:

 Glock and Stark's dimensions of religious commitment measures are an important element in the evolution of socio­ logically oriented attempts to measure reli­gion. They represent the growing realization in the 1960s that religion was a complex phenomenon that demanded a multidimen­sional approach to its measurement. Influ­enced by earlier work of Gerhard Lenski, Glock and Stark approached the issue of creating religious measures by identifying the important components or dimensions of religion. For each of these dimensions they created a set of survey questions that could be combined into indices. The following di­mensions of religiosity produced these in­ dices:

  • Belief Orthodoxy Index (central religious beliefs-? items)
  • Particularism Index (beliefs about what leads to salvation-3 items)
  • Ethicalism Index (beliefs about relation­ ships with others-2 items)
  • Practice Ritual Involvement Index (in­volvement in organized public worship--6 items)
  • Devotionalism Index (private devotional practices- 3 items)
  • Experience Religious Experience Index (extent to which one reports personal con­ tact with the supematural-5 items)
  • Knowledge Religious Knowledge Index (degree of knowledge of biblical con­ tent-IO items)

Glock and Stark's dimensions of reli­gious commitment measures can be viewed as a pool of survey items that could be used by researchers studying religion. As Glock and Stark themselves demonstrated, one might not need to use all the possible items that are available. Furthermore, if only cer­tain aspects of religiosity are deemed impor­tant to the research, then one or more of the indices could be used independently. Care should be taken not to claim that religion is being measured comprehensively. Others have followed essentially the same basic framework but have created different spe­cific items (Faulkner & Delong, 1966; King & Hunt, 1969). One could compare the Glock and Stark items with alternatives and create a composite set of measures that suits exactly the needs of a particular study.

Practical Considerations:

 A major consid­eration with the use of a multidimensional set of religious measures is whether or not the precision gained in such an approach is necessary for the purposes of the study. Generally, including all of the Glock and Stark measures as part of a larger instrument would necessitate a fair amount of time for the subject to complete all the items. Re­ searchers would have to allow up to 30 min­utes for these items to be completed. In some cases fewer items could be used with an accompanying loss of precision.

The scoring procedure for the items is straightforward. The indices are simply con­ structed by assigning numbers to the possi­ble answers and summing the totals. An­swers deemed as indicating religiosity are assigned higher values and answers indicat­ing a lack of religiosity are not given any value. Thus the higher the total score, the more religious the respondent is on that par­ticular dimension.

In a number of cases Glock and Stark did not use all of the possible items created for a given dimension. In some cases, items were omitted because they were relevant only to a specific religious subgroup. In other cases, Glock and Stark found through index validation analysis that a smaller group of items served as well as a larger set of questions.

Norms/Standardization:

The 1966 publica­tion by Glock and Stark reports the results for two samples. The first was a 1963 study of over 3,000 church members drawn from 118 Protestant and Roman Catholic congre­gations in four counties in northern Califor­nia. The second sample was a national study (N 1,976) that was part of a National Opinion Research Center (NORC) survey of the nation in 1964. The first sample com­pleted self-administered mail surveys and the second sample involved in-person inter­ views.

A major concern was to discover if the results of the regional study (California) would be similar to the national sample. Glock and Stark reported that the national data confirmed empirically the findings of - the regional study. Since publication of Glock and Stark's study other researchers have adopted some of the same measures. But there have been no systematically replicated studies of the exact same instrument. Nevertheless, Glock and Stark (1966) provides useful normative data to anyone using these measures.

Reliability:

 No reliability data were re­ ported.

Validity:

 Extensive item intercorrelations were conducted to see if the various mea­ sures were logically connected. Individual items did, in fact, correlate well with the in­ dices that were created. In some cases Glock and Stark present product moment correlations for these correlations (range: .404 to .766); in other cases, they do cross tabulations between items and indices. Be­ yond item analysis, Glock and Stark do not offer any external validity checks. They re­ port data that can be intuitively confirmed such as differences between various denom­inations on religious orthodoxy, participa­tion, etc. For example, more theologically conservative Protestant groups such as Baptists demonstrate higher levels on the mea­ sures of religious orthodoxy.

Dimensions of Religious Commitment

To begin with, we would like to ask about your present church going habits and about your activities more generally.
l. What is the name and denomination of the church to which you presently belong?
2. How long have you been a member of your present congregation or parish?
  • a. I have always been a member
  • b. Less than one year
  • c. One to two years
  • d. Three to five years
  • e. Six to ten years
  • f. More than ten years
3. Have you ever been a member of a denomination other than your present one? Yes No
If yes, what denomination was that? (If more than one, list them in order from the most recent to the earliest.)
4. How often do you attend Sunday worship services?
  • a. Every week
  • b. Nearly every week
  • c. About three times a month
  • d. About twice a month
  • e. About once a month
  • f. About every six weeks
  • g. About every three months
  • h. About once or twice a year
  • i. Less than once a year
  • j. Never
5. Have you received Holy Communion in the last year? Yes No
6. Have you been baptized?
  • a. Yes, in my present denomination
  • b. Yes, in another denomination
  • c. No
7. Have you been confirmed?
  • a. Yes, in my present denomination
  • b. Yes, in another denomination
  • c. No
8. In an average week, how many evenings do you spend in church, including church meetings such as study groups that may not actually meet in the church building?
9. IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN, PLEASE ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS. IF NOT, SKIP TO QUESTION I 0.
What kind of school do your children attend?
  • a. A parochial or church-affiliated school
  • b. A public school
  • c. A private school not affiliated with any church
  • d. They do not attend school
How frequently, if at all, do your children attend Sunday school or religious instruction classes that are not part of their regular school day?
  • a. They do not attend
  • b. They attend regularly
  • c. They attend often
  • d. They attend sometimes
IO. All in all, how important would you say your church membership is to you?
  • a. Extremely important
  • b. Quite important
  • c. Fairly important
  • d. Not too important
  • e. Fairly unimportant
11. In Column A, please list all of the church organizations, groups, or activities in which you participate, such as choir, church committees and boards, men's clubs, women's clubs, etc.
In Column B, please indicate how many of the last five meetings of each of these orga­nizations you have attended.
In Column C, please indicate whether or not you have ever held an office in each orga­nization you list.
Column A Column B Column C
12. IF YOU ARE NOW OR EVER HAVE BEEN MARRIED, PLEASE ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS. If you have been married more than once, answer for your most recent spouse.
  • a. To what denomination does (or did) your spouse belong?
  • b. In what denomination was your spouse raised?
  • c. Would you say you are (or were) more or less interested in religion than your spouse?
    • a. More b. Less c. About the same
  • d. About how often does (or did) your spouse attend Sunday worship services?
    • a. Every week
    • b. Nearly every week
    • c. About three times a month
    • d. About twice a month
    • e. About once a month
    • f. About every six weeks
    • g. About every three months
    • h. About once or twice a year
    • i. Less than once a year
    • j. Never
13. All in all, how well do you think you fit in with the group of people who make up your church congregation (or parish)?
  • a. I really don't fit in too well with this group of people
  • b. I fit in, but not too well
  • c. I fit in quite well
  • d. I fit in very well
14. Generally speaking, would you say most of the people you associate with in activities aside from church affairs are or are not members of your congregation (or parish)?
  • a. Most are members of my congregation (or parish)
  • b. About half are and half aren't
  • c. Most are not members of my congregation
15. Of your five closest friends, how many are members of your congregation (or parish)?
16. Turning now to other religious activities besides attending church, how often, if at all, are table prayers or grace said before or after meals in your home?
  • a. We say grace at all meals
  • b. We say grace at least once a day
  • c. We say grace at least once a week
  • d. We say grace but only on special occasions
  • e. We never, or hardly ever, say grace
17. How often do you read the Bible at home?
  • a. To be frank, I never read the Bible or I read it so rarely that it probably shouldn't even count
  • b. I read it regularly once a day or more
  • c. I read it regularly several times a week
  • d. I read it regularly once a week
  • e. I read it quite often, but not at regular intervals
  • f. I read it once in a while
  • g. I read it only on very special occasions
18. Thinking now of your daily life and the decisions that you have to make constantly about how to spend your time, how to act with other people, how to bring up your chil­dren, presuming you have them, and so on, to what extent does what you read in the Bible help you in making everyday decisions in your life?
  • a. To be frank, I hardly ever think of the Bible and what it has to say as I go about my daily life
  • b. While I can't think of specific examples, nevertheless I feel sure that the Bible is still of help in my daily life
  • c. I can think of specific examples when it has helped me in a very direct way in mak­ ing decisions in life
  • d. Other (please specify)
19. If you were asked, do you think you could recite the Ten Commandments?
  • a. Yes, but not the exact words
  • b. Yes, the exact words
  • c. I'm not sure that I would remember all ten
20. Which of the following were Old Testament prophets?
  • a. Elijah
  • b. Deuteronomy
  • c. Jeremiah
  • d. Paul
  • e. Leviticus
  • f. Ezekiel
  • g. None of these
21. Which one of Christ's disciples denied Him three times?
  • a. James
  • b. Paul
  • c. Judas
  • d. Mark
  • e. Peter
  • f. Jacob
22. Would you say that the book of Acts was an eyewitness account of Jesus' ministry?
  • a. Yes
  • b. No
  • c. Don't know
23. Would you please read each of the following statements and do two things: first, decide whether this statement is from the Bible or not; and second, please indicate whether or not you agree with the statement, even if you think the statement is not from the Bible.
For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
From the Bible? a. Yes b. No
Do you agree? a. Yes b. No Blessed are the strong, for they shall be the sword of God.
From the Bible? a. Yes b. No
Do you agree? a. Yes b. No
Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
From the Bible? Do you agree?
a. Yes
a. Yes
b. No
b. No
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
From the Bible?
a. Yes
b. No
Do you agree?
a. Yes
b. No
Let your women keep silence in the churches, for it is not permitted unto them to speak.
From the Bible? a. Yes b. No
Do you agree? a. Yes b. No
For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.
From the Bible?
a. Yes
b. No
Do you agree?
a. Yes
b. No
We'd like to shift now from asking about the Bible to asking about prayer. Prayer is a very private thing and we frankly are not sure whether we should ask people about their prayers. We hope that you will find the questions not too delicate to answer, but if you do, please tell us by writing in the margins.
  • 24. How often do you pray privately?
  • a. I never pray, or only do so at church services
  • b. I pray only on very special occasions
  • c. I pray once in a while, but not at regular intervals
  • d. I pray quite often, but not at regular times
  • e. I pray regularly once a day or more
  • f. I pray regularly several times a week
  • g. I pray regularly once a week
IF YOU EVER PRAY, OTHER THAN IN CHURCH, PLEASE ANSWER THE FOLLOW­ ING QUESTIONS.
1. When you pray, why do you pray? (Answer as many as apply)
  • a. As a Christian duty
  • b. To find comfort when I am feeling low
  • c. To strengthen my faith
  • d. To try to learn God's will
  • e. To ask God's guidance in making decisions
  • f. Because it gives me a feeling of being closer to God
  • g. To ask forgiveness for something I have done
  • h. To ask God to bring someone else to Christian faith and belief
  • i. To give thanks to God
  • j. To be worshipful of God
Now look back at the list above, and please circle the answer that you feel is the most im­ portant reason that you pray.
2. Have you ever prayed during your adult years for the following purposes? (Answer as many as apply)
  • a. To ask for some material thing, for example, a new car or a new house
  • b. To ask God to keep some misfortune from happening to me
  • c. To ask God to restore my health
  • d. To ask God to restore someone else's health
  • e. None of these
3. Do you feel your prayers are answered?
  • a. Yes, I have no doubt that they are
  • b. I feel that they are, but I'm not entirely sure
  • c. I don't really know
  • d. I feel that they aren't, but I'm not entirely sure
  • e. I guess I don't feel that they really are
  • f. Other (please specify)
4. How important is prayer in your life?
  • a. Extremely important
  • b. Fairly important
  • c. Not too important
  • d. Not important at all
25. How important is the idea of sin in your life?
  • a. I am rather concerned with trying to live as sinless a life as possible
  • b. I accept the idea of sin, but do not really think about it very often
  • c. The idea of sin means very little to me
  • d. None of the above represents my feelings; what I do feel is that
26. How often do you ask for forgiveness for your sins?
  • a. Very often
  • b. Quite often
  • c. Occasionally
  • d. Rarely
  • e. Never
27. How certain are you that your sins are forgiven?
  • a. I am absolutely certain they are
  • b. I am fairly certain
  • c. I feel they are forgiven sometimes, but not always
  • d. I am never quite sure whether my sins are forgiven or not
  • e. I usually feel that my sins are not forgiven
  • f. I don't think of sin in this way
28. Have you personally tried to convert someone to your religious faith?
  • a. Yes, often
  • b. Yes, a few times
  • c. Yes, once or twice
  • d. No, never
29. There has always been a good deal of discussion among Christians about how people ought to act in their daily lives. It is not always clear what characteristics ought to be admired and which ones we should disapprove of. Below you will find a series of de­ scriptions of ways in which people act.
  • l. Drinks moderately
  • 2. Is very ambitious
  • 3. Thinks he is better than others
  • 4. Dresses in a flashy way
  • 5. Prefers to be with people like himself
  • 6. Is very patriotic
  • 7. Feels that Christian holidays should not be celebrated in the public schools
  • 8. Is very rich
  • 9. Is very anxious to be thought of as an intellectual l 0. Is satisfied with his lot in life
For each one, decide how much you would admire or disapprove of a person who acted in this way. Complete the following sentence with one of the choices:
If a person were like this, I would:
  • a. Admire him for it
  • b. Think it was all right
  • c. Be mildly disapproving of him
  • d. Be highly disapproving of him
30. We would like you to imagine, for a moment, that for some reason you could no longer continue to attend a church of your present denomination. Below is a list of other de­ nominations that it would be possible for you to attend. We would like you to consider each and decide for yourself how comfortable and "at home" you think you would feel in each. The choices for answering are:
  • a. Very comfortable
  • b. Comfortable
  • c. A little uncomfortable
  • d. Uncomfortable
  • e. Don't know enough about this denomination to say
  • The denominations are:
    • a. Baptist
    • b. Jehovah's Witnesses
    • c. Jewish
    • d. Lutheran
    • e. Presbyterian
    • f. Roman Catholic
    • g. Unitarian
    • h. Mormon
We now tum to another part of religious life-religious belief. We are concerned to learn not only what people believe but also how important their beliefs are to them. We hope you will find that the questions allow you to express your own beliefs. If not, please write a comment next to any question that you would consider to be inappropriate.
31. Which of the following statements comes closest to expressing what you believe about God?
  • a. I know God exists and I have no doubts about it
  • b. While I have doubts, I feel that I do believe in God
  • c. I find myself believing in God some of the time, but not at other times
  • d. I don't believe in a personal God, but I do believe in a higher power of some kind
  • e. I don't know whether there is a God and I don't believe there is any way to find out
  • f. I don't believe in God
  • g. None of the above represents what I believe. What I believe about God is
32. Which of the following statements comes closest to expressing what you believe about Jesus?
  • a. Jesus is the Divine Son of God and I have no doubts about it
  • b. While I have some doubts, I feel basically that Jesus is Divine
  • c. I feel that Jesus was a great man and very holy, but I don't feel Him to be the Son of God any more than all of us are children of God
  • d. I think Jesus was only a man, although an extraordinary one
  • e. Frankly, I'm not entirely sure there really was such a person as Jesus
  • f. None of the above represents what I believe. What I believe about Jesus is
' 33. The Bible tells of many miracles, some credited to Christ and some to other prophets and apostles. Generally speaking, which of the following statements comes closest to what you believe about biblical miracles.
  • a. I am not sure whether these miracles really happened or not
  • b. I believe miracles are stories and never really happened
  • c. I believe the miracles happened, but can be explained by natural causes
  • d. I believe the miracles actually happened just as the Bible says they did
34. Please think about each of the religious beliefs listed below and indicate how certain you are that it is true according to these choices: Completely true, probably true, proba­bly not true, definitely not true
  • a. There is life beyond death
  • b. Jesus was born of a virgin
  • c. The devil actually exists
  • d. Jesus was opposed to all drinking of alcohol
  • e. What we do in this life will determine our fate in the hereafter
  • f. Jesus walked on water
  • g. Man cannot help doing evil
  • h. The pope is infallible in matters of faith and morals
  • i. Jesus was born a Jew
  • j. Only those who believe in Jesus Christ can go to heaven
  • k. A child is born into the world already guilty of sin
35. When you think of salvation, do you think primarily of being granted eternal life be­ yond the grave or do you think primarily of being released from sin and protected from evil in this life?
  • a. I think primarily of being granted eternal life beyond death
  • b. I think primarily of being released from sin and protected from evil in this life
  • c. Other
36. Please read each of the items listed below and decide whether you think it is:
  • 1. Absolutely necessary for salvation
  • 2. Probably would help in gaining salvation or
  • 3. Probably has no influence on salvation
    • a. Belief in Jesus Christ as Savior
    • b. Holy Baptism
    • c. Membership in a Christian church
    • d. Regular participation in Christian sacraments, for example, Holy Communion
    • e. Holding the Bible to be God's truth
    • f. Prayer
    • g. Doing good for others
    • h. Tithing
    • i. Being a member of your particular religious faith
    • j. Loving thy neighbor
  • 37. Now looking at the following items, please indicate for each whether you think it will:
  • 1. Definitely prevent salvation
  • 2. May possibly prevent salvation or
  • 3. Probably has no influence on salvation
    • a. Drinking liquor
    • b. Breaking the Sabbath
    • c. Being completely ignorant of Jesus, as might be the case for people living in other countries
    • d. Taking the name of the Lord in vain
    • e. Being of the Jewish religion
    • f. Practicing artificial birth control
    • g. Being of the Hindu religion
    • h. Marrying a non-Christian
    • i. Discriminating against other races
    • j. Being anti-Semitic
38. Do you believe Jesus will actually return to the earth some day?
  • a. Definitely
  • b. Probably
  • c. Possibly
  • d. Probably not
  • e. Definitely not
IF YOU THINK JESUS WILL DEFINITELY OR PROBABLY RETURN, PLEASE AN­ SWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTION:
How soon do you expect Jesus' return to happen?
  • a. In the next 10 years
  • b. In the next 25 years
  • c. In the next 50 years
  • d. In the next I00 years
  • e. 200 to 500 years from now
  • f. 1,000 to 10,000 years from now
  • g. 50,000 or more years from now
  • h. Other
39. What do you feel will probably happen to you after death? I feel that I will:
  • a. Go to purgatory
  • b. Go to hell
  • c. Simply stop existing
  • d. Go to heaven
40. How certain do you feel about the answer you have just given?
  • a. Very certain
  • b. Fairly certain
  • c. Not very certain
  • d. Not at all certain
41. How sure are you that you have found the answers to the meaning and the purpose of life?
  • a. I am quite certain and I pretty much grew up knowing these things
  • b. I am quite certain, although at one time I was pretty uncertain
  • c. I am uncertain whether or not I have found them
  • d. I am quite sure I have not found them
  • e. I don't really believe there are answers to these questions
So far, we have asked about your religious activities, your religious knowledge, and your re­ligious beliefs. The next series of questions has to do with your religious experiences, that is, with what feelings you may have had which you would think of as religious.
42. To begin, would you describe briefly any experience which you have had in your life which at the time you thought of as a distinctly religious experience.
43. Listed below are a number of experiences of a religious nature which people have re­ ported having. Since you have been an adult, have you ever had any of these experi­ ences, and how sure are you that you had it? Answer either: Yes, I'm sure I have; Yes, I think I have; or No
  • a. A feeling that you were somehow in the presence of God
  • b. A sense of being saved in Christ
  • c. A feeling of being afraid of God
  • d. A feeling of being punished by God for something you had done
  • e. A feeling of being tempted by the devil
IF YOU HAVE ANSWERED NO TO ALL OF THE ABOVE, do you feel that it is pos­ sible for people to have religious experiences?
  • a. Yes b. No c. I'm not sure
The following questions give attention to still another topic-the history of Christianity. Here we are interested to learn how church people view the events of early Christianity and the Reformation period.
44. The Old Testament tells that God picked a certain group to be his "Chosen People." Can you tell us who God picked as his "Chosen People"?
  • a. The Romans
  • b. The Greeks
  • c. The Jews
  • d. The Christians
  • e. None of these
45. Who do you think are God's "Chosen People" today?
  • a. The Americans
  • b. The Roman Catholics
  • c. The Jews
  • d. The Christians
  • e. The Protestants
  • f. None
  • g. Other
46. Do you think of Moses, David, and Solomon as:
  • a. Romans
  • b. Greeks
  • c. Jews
  • d. Christians
  • e. None of these
47. When you think of Peter and Paul and the other apostles, do you think of them as:
  • a. Romans
  • b. Greeks
  • c. Jews
  • d. Christians
  • e. None of the above
48. When you think of Judas, who betrayed Christ, do you think of him as:
  • a. A Roman
  • b. A Greek
  • c. A Jew
  • d. A Christian
  • e. None of these

Location:

Glock, C., Stark, R. (1966). Christian beliefs and anti-Semitism. New York: Harper & Row.

Note: Most of the religiosity items are found on pages 1- 7 of the questionnaire (items 1-43). Information on index construction is also found in their book.

Subsequent Research:

Clayton, R. R. (1971). 5-D or I? Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 10(1), 37-40.

Clayton, R.R., & Gladden, J. (1974). The five dimensions of religiosity: Toward demythologizing a social artifact. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 13(2), 135-143.

Hilty, D. M. (1988). Religious belief, participa­tion and consequences: An exploratory and confir­ matory analysis. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 27(2), 243-259.

Roof, W. C. (1979). Concepts and indicators of religious commitment: A critical review. In R. Wuthnow (Ed.), The religious dimension: New di­ rections in quantitative research (Chap. I). New York: Academic Press.

References

DeJong, G., Faulkner, J., & Warland, R. (1976). Dimensions of religiosity reconsidered: Evidence from a cross-cultural study. Social Forces, 54, 866-889.

Faulkner, J. E., DeJong, G. F. (1966). Reli­giosity in 5-D: An empirical analysis. Social Forces 45, 246-254.

Glock, C., & Stark, R. (1966). Christian beliefs and anti-Semitism. New York: Harper Row.

King, M., & Hunt, R. (1969). Measuring the re­ligious variable: Amended findings. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 8, 321-323.

King, M., Hunt, R. (1975). Measuring the re­ligious variable: National replication. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 14, 13-22.

Weigert, A., Thomas, D. (1969). Religiosity in 5-D: A critical note. Social Forces, 48, 260-263.