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American ReligionContemporary Trends$
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Mark Chaves

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691146850

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691146850.001.0001

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(p.33) 3 Belief
American Religion

Mark Chaves

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on one of the few traditional religious beliefs that truly declined in recent decades: believing that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. Generational turnover is an important part of this trend, with more recently born individuals much less likely to believe in an inerrant Bible than those born longer ago. The overall percentage of those who believe that the Bible is the literal word of God declined slowly but surely as younger generations replaced older generations who had stricter views about the Bible. Social change occurring in this way can be gradual, but still profound. The chapter also looks at the recent growth in diffuse spirituality, including the rising number of people—especially young people—who say that they are spiritual but not religious.

Keywords:   religious beliefs, Bible, generational turnover, younger generations, older generations, social change, diffuse spirituality

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