THE RELIGIOUS BELIEF SCALE

Variable:

The Religious Belief Scale (RBS) was developed as a measure of Judea-Chris­ tian religious belief in individuals. The con­ tent of the RBS items centers around "belief. . . in the Bible, in the efficacy of prayer, in an afterlife, in a personal God who is near and present, in the divinity of Jesus, and in the church and religion as necessary for a good life" (Martin & Nichols, 1962, p. 4). The RBS measures acceptance of religious teachings and positive valuing of religion (Shaw & Wright, 1967).

Description:

Martin and Nichols (l 962) borrowed items from several established re­ligious belief scales and wrote additional items for an initial pool of 50 items. The au­thors specifically developed the RBS to test certain personality and demographic correlates of religiosity. Nine items were dis­ carded due to nonsignificant correlations with the total score in a sample of 80 sub­ jects. The resulting 41-item true-false in­ventory (see appendix) constitutes the RBS. Subjects respond "true" or "false" to each item on a separate answer sheet. Eigh­teen of the 41 RBS items are negative and thus are reverse scored. One point is scored for each positive item marked "true" and one point for each negative item marked "false." Points are summed for the total RBS score, which can range from O to 41. High scores suggest acceptance of religion and religious teaching (Shaw & Wright, 1967).

Practical Considerations:

This paper-and­ pencil measure requires no special examiner skill to administer, score, or interpret. In­structions are printed on the test form, which directs the subjects to respond either "true" or "false" to every item on the basis of their agreement or disagreement that the item content is true about them.

Norms/Standardization:

The only data available regarding the RBS were obtained from a sample of 163 undergraduate college students. Fifty-nine male and 104 female students completed the RBS in a group testing situation. No additional data regard­ ing this sample was reported. Unfortu­nately, Martin and Nichols ( 1962) only reported correlations for the RBS with other variables and neglected to report the sample mean and standard deviation. To date, there is no normative data regarding the RBS.

Reliability:

Using a subgroup (N = 83) of the original sample, Martin and Nichols (1962) reported a Kuder-Richardson reliability coefficient of .95. There has been no subsequent confirmation of the scale's reliability.

Validity:

Face validity of the RBS items was paramount in item selection. Review of the scale's items suggests considerable homogeneity in content, which is reinforced by the rather high reliability coefficient. RBS items appear to consistently reflect common Judeo-Christian religious teachings. There is little empirical confirmation of the scale's content or construct validity. Martin and Nichols (1962) reported significant positive correlations between the RBS and demo­ graphic variables such as a rural back­ ground, female gender, church membership, church attendance, and having experienced positive parental attitudes toward religion. Contrary to prediction, the RBS was also significantly positively correlated with the Authoritarianism Scale and there was no significant relationship between RBS scores and level of religious information. The au­thors report a curvilinear relationship be­ tween RBS scores and level of information about religion, with subjects in the moderate range of information (biblical and general religious) obtaining the highest RBS scores.

Religious Belief Scale

Instructions: If you agree with a statement or feel that it is true about you or true to the best of your knowledge, answer "true." If you disagree with a statement or feel that it is not true about you or not true to the best of your knowledge, answer "false." Be sure to answer either true or false for every statement, even if you have to guess at some.

  1. Religious faith is better than logic for solving life's important problems.
  2. *I don't think it makes any difference if one is a Christian as long as he has good will for others.
  3. I often think that I couldn't do without my religion.
  4. I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God.
  5. *I think there were many men in history as great as Jesus.
  6. God is constantly with us.
  7. *Christ's simple message of concern for your fellow man has been twisted by supersti­ tious mysticism.
  8. I attend church to worship God with devotion and to gain guidance for everyday life.
  9. *A person can be happy and enjoy life without believing in God.
  10. I believe that eternal life is a gift of God to those who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
  11. *Man can solve all his important problems without help from a Supreme Being.
  12. It is through the righteousness of Jesus Christ and not because of our own works that we are made righteous before God.
  13. *I don't think prayers go above the ceiling of the room in which they are uttered.
  14. I am sometimes very conscious of the presence of God.
  15. *"God" is an abstract concept roughly equivalent to the concept of "Nature."
  16. *I think that the Bible is full of errors, misconceptions, and contradictions.
  17. If I were without my religion and my understanding of God, I would have little left in life.
  18. I think God is revealed in every person who feels and acts unselfishly.
  19. I believe that men working and thinking together can build a just society without su­ perhuman help.
  20. I believe that God exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  21. *The Bible in many ways has held back and retarded human progress.
  22. I think of God as present wherever there is genuine beauty.
  23. *I am not a religious person.
  24. *Science makes me doubt that man has a soul.
  25. When in doubt, it is best to stop and ask God what to do.
  26. *Christ was not divine, but his teachings and the example set by his life are important.
  27. I believe that following the gospel of Christ is the only way for mankind to be saved.
  28. God exists in all of us.
  29. I think that God's purposes are best shown by Christ.
  30. God created man separate and distinct from the animals.
  31. *I can take religion or leave it.
  32. I think that Jesus was born of a virgin.
  33. *I think that God may possibly have created the world, but he does not show Himself or interfere in it today.
  34. *I think there is no life after death.
  35. *As science advances, religion will fade out in importance and eventually no religion will be needed.
  36. God is very real to me.
  37. *A person should follow his own conscience-not prayer-in deciding right and wrong.
  38. I believe there is a Heaven and a Hell.
  39. Because of His presence we can know that God exists.
  40. Religion gives meaning to my life.
  41. *I don't believe that history reveals the working out of God's plan.

Location:

Martin, C., & Nichols, R. C. (1962). Personality and religious belief. Journal of Social Psychology, 56, 3-8.

Shaw, M. E., & Wright, J.M. (1967). Scales for the measurement of attitudes. New York: McGraw­ Hill.

Subsequent Research: A review of the literature revealed no subsequent published re­ search using the RBS.

These items are negative and must be reversed for purposes of scoring.