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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 136256 Find in a Library
Title: Protestant Fundamentalism and the Retributive Doctrine of Punishment
Journal: Criminology  Volume:30  Issue:1  Dated:(February 1992)  Pages:21-45
Author(s): H G Grasmick; E Davenport; M B Chamlin; R J Bursik Jr
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 25
Sponsoring Agency: University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK 73069
Type: Research (Applied/Empirical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Drawing from recent work on attribution theory and religion, this paper proposes and reports evidence that public support for the retributive doctrine is closely linked to affiliation with fundamentalist Protestant denominations and fundamentalist religious beliefs.
Abstract: Historically, the social sciences have demonstrated little concern with the effects of religious differences in the public sphere. Only a few studies have considered the relationship between religion and public views of punishment. No studies have distinguished between Protestant fundamentalists and other Protestants; instead, they compare Protestants as a group with Catholics and Jews. Evidence is accumulating in the social sciences that religious beliefs play a crucial role in policy matters. Given the emphasis on retribution in Judeo-Christian teachings and the emphasis on biblical literalness among fundamentalists, the authors propose that the retributive doctrine is one of the issues to which Protestant fundamentalists are attracted. This contention was tested in a 1990 survey of 330 adults in a southwestern city with a population of approximately 350,000. Support for retribution as a punishment philosophy was measured by a series of Likert items. Mean scores for the retributiveness scale were highest for Protestant fundamentalists, followed by Catholics, liberal/moderate Protestants, and those claiming no religious affiliation. Denominational affiliation was strongly related to biblical literalness, with fundamentalists scoring highest on the literalness scale. It is concluded that the potential impact of religious groups on public policy issues cannot be overlooked. 79 references, 6 footnotes, and 2 tables
Main Term(s): Punishment; Religion
Index Term(s): Attribution theory; Public Opinion of Crime
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