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Religious chameleons: Exploring the social context for belonging without believing


  • Jason Wollschleger

    (Whitworth University, USA)

  • Lindsey R. Beach

    (University of Washington, USA)


Following previous discussions of objective religious hypocrisy, we now explore the concept of subjective religious hypocrisy; that is, belonging to a religious group but not believing in its tenets. In exchange terms, subjective hypocrisy can be understood as cheating on one’s subjective religious commitments (belief) in order to gain access to otherwise unavailable social incentives. Drawing on existing literature, we specify the social structural conditions that lead to higher levels of subjective religious hypocrisy. We also explore the costs and risks this behavior can create for individuals and the consequences it can have for religious groups. We offer a series of testable deductive propositions.

Suggested Citation

  • Jason Wollschleger & Lindsey R. Beach, 2013. "Religious chameleons: Exploring the social context for belonging without believing," Rationality and Society, , vol. 25(2), pages 178-197, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ratsoc:v:25:y:2013:i:2:p:178-197

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