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38 J. Res. Crime & Delinquency 3 (2001)

handle is hein.journals/jrcd38 and id is 1 raw text is: 


                         IF   YOU LOVE ME, KEEP MY
       COMMANDMENTS: A META-ANALYSIS
    OF   THE EFFECT OF RELIGION ON CRIME

                                              COLIN J. BAIER
                                   BRADLEY R. E. WRIGHT



Do religious beliefs and behaviors deter criminal behavior? The existing evidence
surrounding the effect ofreligion on crime is varied, contested, and inconclusive, and
currently no persuasive answer exists as to the empirical relationship between reli-
gion and crime. In this article, the authors address this controversial issue with a
meta-analysis of60 previous studies based on two questions: (1) What is the direction
and magnitude ofthe effect ofreligion on crime? (2) Why have previous studies varied
in their estimation of this effect? The results of the meta-analysis show that religious
beliefs and behaviors exert a moderate deterrent effect on individuals' criminal
behavior Furthermore, previous studies have systematically varied in their estima-
tion of the religion-on-crime effect due to differences in both their conceptual and
methodological approaches.


   Sociological research on the effect of religion on crime began a century
ago and continues through today (Lombroso   1911; Kvaraceus  1944; Schur
1969; Bainbridge  1989), yet a fundamental issue about this relationship re-
mains unresolved. Simply stated, do religious beliefs and behaviors deter in-
dividuals' criminal behavior? The  ambiguity  that characterizes the reli-
gion-on-crime literature is evident in the past 30 years of empirical research
on the subject. From 1969 to 1998, social scientists have produced an average
of two studies per year that estimated the effect of religion on crime (for re-
views, see Tittle and Welch 1983; Sherkat and Ellison 1999), and the findings
from those studies range from religion having little or no impact on criminal
behavior (Hirschi and Stark 1969; Ellis and Thompson 1989) to religion hav-
ing a dominant  impact  (Rohrbaugh  and Jessor 1975; Chadwick   and Top
1993).


   This research was supported by the National Consortium on Violence Research, which is
supported under grant SBR 9513040 from the National Science Foundation. We thank Myra
Ferree, Wayne Villemez, and David Weakliem for their input into this article. Direct correspon-
dence to Brad Wright, Department of Sociology, U-68, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
06269; e-mail: bradley.wright@uconn.edu.
JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN CRIME AND DELINQUENCY, Vol. 38 No. 1, February 2001 3-21
Q 2001 Sage Publications, Inc.
                                                                       3


from the SAGE Social Science Collections. All Rights Reserved.

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