Note: The 1998 General Social Survey data used for these analyses are available at the Association of Religion Data Archives: http://www.thearda.com/.
How Does Religion Promote Forgiveness? Linking Beliefs, Orientations, and Practices
Article first published online: 1 MAR 2013
© 2013 The Society for the Scientific Study of Religion
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Volume 52, Issue 1, pages 100–119, March 2013
How to Cite
Escher, D. (2013), How Does Religion Promote Forgiveness? Linking Beliefs, Orientations, and Practices. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 52: 100–119. doi: 10.1111/jssr.12012
Acknowledgments: The author offers special thanks to Christian Smith, Kraig Beyerlein, Jessica L. Collett, Amy Jonason, Richard A. Williams, participants in the Research and Analysis in the Sociology of Religion workshop, and the journal's anonymous reviewers. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under grant number DGE08-22217.
- Issue published online: 1 MAR 2013
- Article first published online: 1 MAR 2013
- religious orientation;
- religious activity
Scholars have long observed that religion and forgiveness are generally positively linked, but it is unclear why this is the case. This article proposes and tests potential mechanisms by which religion promotes forgiveness. Using data from the 1998 General Social Survey, I find that holding a collaborative orientation toward God, subscribing to a pervasive role of religion, and believing God forgives are primary factors promoting one's propensity to forgive both oneself and others. These factors have varying influence on interpersonal forgiveness compared to self-forgiveness and further illuminate the differences between the two processes. My findings demonstrate the importance of analyzing a person's religious beliefs and orientations directly, in addition to examining other dimensions of religion, such as affiliation, frequency of religious activity, and official religious teachings.