Kirk W. Elifson is an associate professor of sociology at Georgia State University. His current research interests include deviant religious behavior and religion in public schools. He is coauthor of Fundamentals of Social Statistics with Richard Runyon and Audrey Haber.
Religiosity and Delinquency
A Contextual Analysis
Article first published online: 7 MAR 2006
Volume 21, Issue 4, pages 505–528, November 1983
How to Cite
ELIFSON, K. W., PETERSEN, D. M. and HADAWAY, C. K. (1983), Religiosity and Delinquency. Criminology, 21: 505–528. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.1983.tb00277.x
AUTHORS' NOTE: We wish to thank Harwin L. Voss for his helpful comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript.
- Issue published online: 7 MAR 2006
- Article first published online: 7 MAR 2006
This article explores the contradictory findings that have characterized the relationship between religion and delinquency. The data are based on interviews with 600 adolescents attending public school in the Atlanta, Georgia area. A wide variety of religious and delinquency measures were used, allowing a complete examination of the relationship. The existence of a weak to moderate negative zero-order relationship was verified. Religious salience, belief in the power of personal prayer, and orthodoxy were found to be related more strongly to delinquency than the most often-used variable, church attendance. Most important, in spite of the relatively strong zero-order relationship between a number of religiosity and delinquency measures, within a multivariate context religion's contribution as an independent variable was not statistically significant. Possible explanations for this finding are discussed.