# Religion

## Social class is associated with individuals’ religious affiliations and practices but not with religiosity itself.

#### Key Points

• Social class is an indicator of religious affiliation, with upper class members concentrated in formal denominations and lower class members concentrated in informal denominations.

• Social class is not an indicator of religiosity; members of each social class practice their faiths with a range of intensities.

• Income, and therefore social class, is related to an individual's denomination. Religion is also strongly linked to level of education.

#### Terms

• An index of how strongly religious a person is

• The measure of which religious denomination a person identifies with or practices

#### Examples

• Social class can predict which religious denomination a person is likely to belong to; members of the upper class are more likely than others to be Episcopalian or Jewish, while members of the working class are more likely to be Catholic, for example.

#### Figures

1. ##### Religious Affiliation by Median Household Income (2000)

Household income, an indicator of social class, can also indicate what religious denomination a person is likely to embrace. America's top income bracket is more likely than other groups to be Jewish, while the lowest bracket is more likely to be Jehovah's Witnesses.

Social class, measured by socioeconomic status, is associated with individuals’ religious affiliations and practices. This affiliation has more to do with how religion is practiced rather than degree of religiosity. Members of lower classes tend to be affiliated with more fundamentalist religions and sect-like groups. Members of the middle class tend to belong to more formal churches. For example, American Presbyterians and Episcopalians (two highly formal Protestant denominations), tend to have above average socioeconomic statuses. Methodists and Lutherans (two moderately formal Protestant denominations) tend to have about average SES. Baptists and members of Protestant fundamentalist sects (which tend to be decentralized and informal) have below average SES. Variations in SES across denomination reveal a correlation between religious affiliation and social class.

Social class is not significantly correlated to religiosity, an index of how strongly religious a person is. Religiosity is measured by tracking frequency of church attendance, church group involvement, frequency of prayer, and other such markers of strength of religious practice. Members of each social class show a range of religiosity.

On the other hand, income, and therefore social class, is related to an individual's denomination. When one looks at average income by religion, there are clear differences. The highest-earning religion on average is Judaism, with an average income of $72,000 in 2000. This is dramatically higher than average; the next highest-earning denomination is Unitarianism at$56,000. Jehovah's Witness, Church of God, and Seventh Day Adventists are at the bottom of the income distribution, with $24,000,$26,000, and \$31,000 respectively (Figure 1).

Religion is also linked with education. 72% of Unitarian and 67% of Hindu adherents are college graduates, while only 12% of Jehovah's Witness and 15% of Church of God members graduated from college.

#### Key Term Glossary

affiliation
The relationship resulting from affiliating one thing with another.
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church
a Christian religious institution or building
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class
A person's economic position in society, based on birth and individual achievement.
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college
An institution of higher education teaching undergraduates and/or graduates. Nearly synonymous with university, with less emphasis on research and may, or may not, have graduate or doctoral programs.
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correlation
A reciprocal, parallel or complementary relationship between two or more comparable objects.
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denomination
A class, or society of individuals, called by the same name; a sect; as, a denomination of Christians.
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education
The process or art of imparting knowledge, skills, and values.
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group
A number of things or persons being in some relation to one another.
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income
money one earns by working, or by capitalising off other people's work
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income distribution
In economics, income distribution is how a nation’s total GDP is spread amongst its population.
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individual
A person considered alone, rather than as belonging to a group of people.
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involvement
The act of involving, or the state of being involved.
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Judaism
A world religion tracing its origin to the Hebrew people of the ancient Middle-East, as documented in religious writings known as the Torah or Old Testament.
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lower class
A class of people in a society characterized by low income, low levels of education, high unemployment and, as a result of these, a low social status.
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middle class
A social and economic class lying above the working class and below the upper class.
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More
A way to refer to norms that are widely observed and have great moral significance. Mores include an aversion for societal taboos, such as incest or pederasty.
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mores
A set of moral norms or customs derived from generally accepted practices. Mores derive from the established practices of a society rather than its written laws.
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practice
Actual operation or experiment, in contrast to theory.
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religion
an organized collection of belief systems, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values
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religiosity
An index of how strongly religious a person is
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Religious Affiliation
The measure of which religious denomination a person identifies with or practices
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religious denominations
A religious denomination is a subgroup within a religion that operates under a common name, tradition, and identity.
sect
an offshoot of a larger religion; a group sharing particular (often unorthodox) political and/or religious beliefs
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social class
A group of people in a stratified hierarchy, based on social power, wealth, educational attainment, and other criteria.
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social classes
Social class (or simply "class") is a set of concepts in the social sciences and political theory centered on models of social stratification in which people are grouped into a set of hierarchical social categories.
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socioeconomic
Of or pertaining to social and economic factors.
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socioeconomics
The branch of economics that deals with social aspects.
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socioeconomic status
One’s social position as determined by income, wealth, occupational prestige, and educational attainment.
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status
A person’s social position or standing relative to that of others.
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tracking
An educational system in which the entire school population is assigned to classes according to whether the students' overall achievement is above average, normal, or below average and in which students attend academic classes only with students whose overall academic achievement is the same as their own.
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working class
The social class of those who perform physical or low-skilled work for a living, as opposed to the professional or middle class, the upper class, or the upper middle class.