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Irreligion refers to individuals who are “not religious.”  This can refer to a number of different dimensions including religious affiliation, belief, practice, and identification.  Absence of affiliation refers to those who claim “no religion.”  Although often conflated with atheism or agnosticism, research indicates that people may believe without belonging, or vice versa.  Irreligion may also refer to those who never engage in religious practice or do not consider themselves to be religious.  Due to the diversity of potential paths of operationalization, conceptualization and measurement significantly influence the proportion of individuals in a given area who are considered irreligious.  Research also indicates that individuals may move in and out of irreligion over the life course.


Baker, Joseph O. and Buster G. Smith.  2009.  “The Nones: Social Characteristics of the Religiously Unaffiliated.”  Social Forces 87(3):2151-1264.

Baker, Joseph O. and Buster G. Smith.  2009.  “None too Simple: Examining Issues of Religious Nonbelief and Nonbelonging in the United States.”  Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 48(4):719-733.

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):165-190.

Lim, Chaeyoon, Carol Ann MacGregor and Robert Putnam.  2010.  “Secular and Liminal: Discovering Heterogeneity among Religious Nones.”  Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 49(4): 596-618.

The following are possible measures of Irreligion that can be created using data from theARDA.com
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:
This measures how frequently respondents attend places of worship.  It is debatable how much measurement error is present in self-reported attendance, as people tend to over-estimate their participation (see Hadaway et al. 1993; Hout and Greeley 1998; Pressler and Stinson 1998; Smith 1998). View related items in the Measurement Wizard:
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 measures how religious a respondent considers him/herself to be. View related items in the Measurement Wizard:

View related items in Measurement Wizard Scales:

Several files in theARDA's Data Archive have examples of this Measure.
RelPersn - 2008 General Social Survey
ReligPer - Comparative Study of Islamic Values
Search the ARDA for similar measures.
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