Greater personal faith predicts lower attachment to guns and lower levels of gun ownership and that may indicate that religion may promote the kind of conversations about gun control that move beyond the slogans and partisan divides that has made practical solutions impossible.
David Briggs, writing in the Association of Religion Data Archives, writes about two papers that were presented at the recent joint meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and the Religious Research Association in Indianapolis.
First a Baylor University study:
Early results from the 2014 Baylor Religion Survey found that the more gun owners rated themselves as being moderately or very religious, the less likely they were to be attached to their weapons as sources of power in such areas as respect, safety and self-confidence.
The survey also found that while people who were moderate church attenders were more likely to feel empowered by owning guns, attachment levels dropped for people who attended services weekly or more, Baylor sociologists F. Carson Mencken and Paul Froese reported.
One area where religion was associated with greater attachment to guns was in images of the divine. Respondents who were more likely to view God as angry and judgmental reported greater attachment to their guns.
Overall, however, the results tended to puncture the popular image that “religious people are really into guns,” Froese noted in an interview. “Somebody who is very religious is not going to be as attached to a physical object” that is not an overtly religious symbol.
And then a Wake Forest study:
Wake Forest University sociologist David Yamane found that the more people attended services, prayed and were engaged in spiritual groups in congregations, the less likely they were to be gun owners.
He also found there was no significant relation between theological conservatism and gun ownership. He analyzed data from four waves of the General Social Survey from 2006 to 2012,
In an interview, Yamane said he thinks the negative relationship between gun ownership and the importance of religion may be related to the higher levels of trust people form within religious communities.