Understanding a Cultural Identity: The Confluence of Education, Politics, and Religion within the American Concept of Biblical Literalism

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This article was written while Hope College faculty author Aaron Franzen worked at Baylor University.


Almost 25 percent of Americans self-identify as biblical literalists and the concept has long been used in research. Studies of Bible views and their relationship with other social outcomes remain popular today; however, the measure is operationalized differently amongst these studies. This study describes how to best use categorical measures of biblical literalism. This is accomplished through a two-part analysis. First, the three most frequently used forms of Bible views are used as predictors to compare their similarity or dissimilarity in various models with identical controls. Second, we use generalized multinomial logistic regression to explore the differences between the response categories of a three-category nominal Bible view measure and various social and religious exogenous measures. We argue that biblical literalism should be operationalized as a nominal system of dummy variables, referred to here as received, active, and unreliable Bible views, and coding systems that do not do this may obscure important differences between the response groups.