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NCJ Number: 211169 Find in a Library
Title: Turning the Other Cheek: Reassessing the Impact of Religion on Punitive Ideology
Journal: Justice Quarterly  Volume:22  Issue:3  Dated:September 2005  Pages:304-339
Author(s): James D. Unnever; Francis T. Cullen; Brandon K. Applegate
Date Published: September 2005
Page Count: 36
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined multiple aspects of religious beliefs and how they affect support for capital punishment and harsher local courts.
Abstract: In the United States, expressions of religious faith are widespread and have a prominent role in shaping the contours of policy debates. Given the spread of “get tough” correctional policies and the emergence of fundamentalism as a socio-religious movement, most research has investigated whether Christian fundamentalism fosters punitive correctional policies. This study analyzed the relationship between religion and punitiveness, focusing on beliefs that might temper support for harsh correctional policies. Using data from the 1997-1998 General Social Survey (GSS), the study explored how support for the death penalty and for harsher courts is shaped by two measures of religiousness--forgiveness and an image of God as “gracious” rather than harsh, and hierarchical--and a measure of the related concept of compassion. Study results indicated that “turning the other cheek” variables were associated with being less punitive. The findings suggest that religion has divergent effects. Those who have a rigid and moralistic approach to religion and who imagine God as a dispassionate, powerful figure who dispenses justice are more likely to harbor punitive sentiments toward offenders. In the end, religion can be a source of punitive or more progressive views toward crime and its control. References
Main Term(s): Punishment
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; Citizen reactions to crime; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Public Opinion of Crime; Religion; United States of America
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