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The opposite of conversion, disaffiliation refers to the process of leaving a religious organization or disavowing one’s former religious identity.  Rates of disaffiliation have increased substantially in the Western World over the past 30 years.  It should be noted that disaffiliation refers only to whether an individual claims to belong to an established religious group, regardless of theistic or supernatural belief.  As a result debates remain about whether this indicates a privatization of religiosity or a more thorough process of secularization.  Discourse in this area revolves around issues of “believing without belonging,” and to a lesser extent “belonging without believing.” 


Davie, Grace.  1994.  Religion in Britain since 1945: Believing Without Belonging.  Oxford: Blackwell.

Davie, Grace.  2000.  Religion in Modern Europe.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hout, Michael and Claude S. Fischer.  2002. “Why More Americans Have No Religious Preference: Politics and Generations.”  American Sociological Review 67(2):165-90.

Sherkat, Darren E. and John Wilson.  1995.  “Preferences, Constraints, and Choices in Religious Markets: An Examination of Religious Switching and Apostasy.”  Social Forces 73:993-1026.

Voas, David and Alasdair Crockett.  2005.  “Religion in Britain: Neither Believing nor Belonging.”  Sociology 39(1):11-28.

The following are possible measures of Disaffiliation that can be created using data from theARDA.com
This asks respondents what religious tradition their parents ascribe to and allows researchers to investigate why individuals maintain or change from the religious tradition they were exposed to when younger. View related items in the Measurement Wizard:
Several files in theARDA's Data Archive have examples of this Measure.
Q31A - 2005 Baylor Religion Survey
MaRelig - 1988 General Social Survey PaRelig - 1988 General Social Survey Moms Relig - 1998 General Social Survey Pops Relig - 1998 General Social Survey PRelign - 2003 National Study of Youth and Religion (Wave 1) Search the ARDA for similar measures.
In 2000, Steensland and colleagues proposed a new method for classifying religious tradition which was based on both doctrine and historical changes in religious groups.  The schematic divides religious traditions into black Protestant, Catholic, evangelical Protestant, Jewish, mainline Protestant, no religion, and "other" religion.  The "other" category functions as a catch-all to reduce missing cases in multivariate analyses with listwise deletion, but should not be substantively interpreted, as it contains a mixture of Eastern religious traditions, Mormons, and everything in between.  The classification scheme is created by using variables such as affiliation and denomination to classify respondents. View related items in the Measurement Wizard:
This classifies people into those who do not believe in the existence of God and those who don't believe humans can know whether there is a God or not, respectively. View related items in the Measurement Wizard:
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