Religious Labels: An Online Poll… PLEASE HELP!

I am deep in the throes of research for a project about religious labels, how people use them, and what those labels represent. Please follow the link below to take a 5 minute survey on your use/non-use of religious labels… and thanks!

Click this link to take a survey on RELIGIOUS LABELS 


30 Responses

  1. Here’s something you may be interested in:

    – The Pilgrim

  2. What is it go(o)d for?

  3. In your survey there is a question of whether following tenets of your label is important. I think this is understood in quite different ways depending on if you pick a religious label or one of the non-theistic labels in the first question. Please keep this in mind when interpreting the results of the survey, if you haven’t already.

  4. The way I’d respond to the opening question is dependent on the context. I guess I’d usually say “I don’t have a religion” in a “neutral” situation. But in a situation where I thought I was in a group that included atheists I might label myself “atheist,” OR I might do so around fundamentalists IF I wanted to be confrontational for some reason.

    Moreover, I might say I’m an ex-Catholic, or even that I’m a Catholic, if for some reason I was trying to introduce the idea that I understand Catholic theology. (As a matter of fact I’m an ex-seminarian, with a 4.0 gpa, and I understand Catholic theology quite well.)

    Or, I might say I’m a Jew, meaning I’m culturally Jewish, my mother having been a Jewish atheist.

    Or, I might say I’m a heathen, just to be snarky.

  5. False advertising! That was barely a two-minute survey! I want my money back!

  6. The survey was okay, but it did not change my beliefs.

  7. I finished the poll but I’m not that interested in the results. Frankly I’d be more interested in how people use labels to identify people other than themselves. 🙂

  8. I tried answering your survey, but I could not answer two of the questions because of the limited options available — i.e., none of the options fit me. (I do not believe that any probability one way or another can be assigned to the existence of a god as such — but perhaps you mean the Abrahamic god, in which case you should have said so.) As a result, my other answers were rejected.

  9. Hey Tyson – interesting survey! My feeling is that these labels often tend to be more about adopting a kind of ‘social attitude’ than giving a meaningful account of one’s beliefs, and that they’re a lot more political than is sometimes acknowledged!

  10. Context is everything; while I would self-identify as a ‘Baptist’ when speaking to other Christians, I am quite simply a Christian. Denomination is not important to me so long as the teachings are Biblical. It brings up an interesting problem; while it is easier than the explanation I’ve just given, in that it IDs me as a person given to following the scriptures closely, it’s also a vector for stereotyping by non-Christians or even more liberal Christians, as there is quite a lot of ideas bouncing around from congregation to congregation. Sadly, those that have never been in a church would imagine the denomination to be represented by televangelist hucksters and the like.
    In this sense, the poll is rather simplistic in not considering contextual problems. Hence, the addendum.

    best regards, G

  11. Because of the international character of my faith, and the fact that it embraces a wide variety of viewpoints, several labels are open to me. The one I have usually preferred since college has suffered some pejoration lately, due to having been appropriated by restive and sometimes schismatic bigots. Therefore I may use one of the other labels if there is a risk of being misunderstood. It may be a difficult choice, because I am very liberal in some ways and unabashedly arch-conservative in others.

  12. I had difficulties with the question about why I choose the label I did. I’m lost somewhere between “It was how I was raised”, “I agree with the tenements”, “I appreciate what it could offer if the world were perfect and people not so fucking judgemental”, and “My cousin and I had a discussion about it and I just recently found out that after all these years, I am not really Catholic”.

  13. Tenets are only there to be broken . . .

  14. Anna K., I agree with you.

  15. I’m having some difficulty with your survey. While in most conversations I would typically call myself Christian without additional modifiers (these usually just confuse matters, I think), there are additional modifiers that I *could* give if someone was really interested to hear more about what I believe (evangelical, Reformed), but I would also usually have to follow up by explaining what I mean by those, since different people use these terms in different ways. For the purposes of your survey, are you most interested in knowing my belief system or knowing whether or not I use a label for it? (For example, are you most interested in the degree of certainty in God among people who identify themselves as evangelical, or are you most interested in how many people choose to assign a label to themselves?)

  16. What I am most interested in is how one’s “beliefs” match his/her label… that is to say, how much the label accurately describes one’s religious beliefs… does that help?

  17. Hi Tyson,

    Interesting poll…wish to have the poll result 😉


  18. How would you classify a Zen Baptist Existentialist Agnostic Heretic Preacher’s Kid? That’s the closest I can come to a “label” for myself. I get some very interesting reactions to that:

    [1] Many of my fellow agnostics and many atheists, liberal Christians, “nominal” (non-practicing) Christians, and people of other religious backgrounds are intrigued, sometimes enough to start a conversation about “how we got where we are.” Quite a few can identify to some extent with my story.

    [2] A few atheists are suspicious because I still identify to some extent with a religious tradition.

    [3] Moderate to mildly conservative Christians also tend to be suspicious but don’t know quite what to make of it. Sometimes they’re curious as to why I describe myself that way.

    [4] As for the conservative Evangelical-to-Fundy crowd, they can’t back away fast enough. You can see the gears grinding and smoke coming out their ears. But it shuts ’em right up (well, except for the stammering).

    In any event, I have a lot of fun with it. 🙂

  19. themadlolscientist: “How would you classify a Zen Baptist Existentialist Agnostic Heretic Preacher’s Kid?”

    If you by “kid” mean a child I would not classify em at all. How does the label a communist child, or a liberal child sound to you? At the age of say 12 we could start to ascribe the person some accountability but before that the child know too little to form a well informed decision.

  20. A nice survey.
    U can refine it by taking some rules of Islam & by reading some books of Muslim great scholars.
    Pls visit 4 more info:

  21. Thanks Shahidullah. I will check out that blog!

  22. Nice little survey, but I used the ‘other’ boxes a fair bit!

    A couple of things I’d have liked to have seen would have been the ethnic background and sexual identity of the respondents. For example I suspect people from an Afro-Caribbean background are more likely than people from a white European background to be fundamentalist Christian and LGBT people are more likely than straight people to be atheist, but have absolutely nothing to back this up!

    All the best with the project.

  23. You need to add a new item to #2. None of the items are suitable for an atheist response. “It accurately describes my beliefs” does not work because atheists don’t have religious beliefs.

    Perhaps you could add something like: “It accurately conveys the idea that I ascribe to no religious beliefs.”

  24. “If you by “kid” mean a child I would not classify em at all.”

    Just means my dad’s a Rev. Growing up in a clergy family – well, that’s an entire planet unto itself.

    More later – the Resident Blogster (Ty) asked me privately about my oddball self-identification. @ Ty – OK if I reply here?

  25. Surely, reply on!

  26. Parsing “Zen Baptist Existentialist Agnostic Heretic Preacher’s Kid” (by popular demand =grin=) and taking things slightly out of order:

    Baptist: Specifically, American Baptist, the first and most “mainline” of the Baptist denominations and historically by far the most progressive. Inventors of the Social Gospel. Direct descendents of Roger Williams, who founded his colony – and his church – on the principle of separation of church and state, and left the church after a couple of years because it was in danger of following its Puritan forebears, trying to run the civil government as well. The greatest Baptist legacy is the first completely secular modern government – and most Baptists know nothing about it.

    Preacher’s Kid: My dad’s a Rev. A highly intelligent, theologically sophisticated, socially-minded liberal who felt called specifically to the ministry of caring for people’s needs in this world, and became a community organizer after graduating from seminary (when I was 13, so I was a witness to the process just at the age where kids are really trying to figure out what they themselves believe……. that had to warp me, don’t you think? =another grin=).

    Sad to say, that only lasted three years, during which time he had dealt with harassment and even death threats, seen his kids harassed (and in my case, physically assaulted), watched his friends and colleagues lose their jobs, and got hounded out of two jobs himself – and all for being “too good” at doing exactly what he was (at least theoretically) hired to do.

    (You see, the Powers That Be don’t really want you to raise all that money, start up co-ops, and get the people working for themselves. They want you to do a bunch of feasibility studies and decide “Oh, those poor people, they can’t do anything, and we can’t do anything for them, thank God for welfare.” If you actually accomplish something, they’re suddenly on the spot for all those matching donations and other material assistance they said they’d give you. It’s bad enough that you’ve upset the social apple cart by helping “those poor people” take matters into their own hands. Now you’ve hit the PTBs in the wallet where it really hurts, and made them look like idiots too!)

    After losing two jobs in rapid succession, he made the agonizing decision to sacrifice his career for the sake of his family (who were all pretty well freaked out by that time) and went back to work as a machinist.

    Forty years later, It still upsets me to think about it. I remember the day he came home from work with a carload of boxes full of stuff after losing his second CO job. When I asked him what was up, he replied calmly, “I don’t have a job.” In my shock, I blurted out what has to be one of the best lines of my life:

    “You’re in good company. Even Jesus himself only had three years.”

    Dad was never the same after that. I wasn’t either, which isn’t surprising since I take after him in temperament and “drive to know.” I didn’t realize how much I idolized my dad until then.

    Existentialist: I was one of those before I ever heard there was a word for it. By the time I found Kierkegaard and Tillich in my dad’s library when I was 11 or 12, I’d already figured out that most of the time there aren’t any easy answers or clear-cut choices, many if not most of the ones we do have are unpleasant and even painful, and sometimes there just aren’t any answers and we have no choice, but we have to keep on keeping on anyway. When I read about the Courage to Be, the Sickness Unto Death, and the Great Leap of Faith, I thought, “I wish I’d written that!”

    Agnostic: In all honesty, I don’t know. I’ve never heard a convincing argument either for or against the existence of a Supreme Being. Maybe there is such a Being somewhere out in the Great Beyond, but there’s no direct evidence of that in the 4 dimensions we have easy access to. OTOH, absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence, so I repeat: in all honesty, I don’t know. And somehow, it doesn’t matter all that much except as a subject for a good late-night bull session when everyone’s a little mellowed out on their poison of choice. Pass the Cabernet Sauvignon, willya? Oh, it’s empty? How about the Chardonnay, or the Pinot Grigio? Yeah, good, thanks.

    Heretic: Arguing over doctrine and dogma is largely a waste of energy, and its main function is as a stick to beat people with. Somewhere lost in the midst of all that fire, brimstone, vitriol, elephant shit, etc. is the story of a very human Jesus who took care of people’s earthly needs, associated with outsiders of all sorts and treated them with respect, favored the needy over the greedy, and never asked anyone to pray to him or worship him, only to follow his example. Even without the miracles, prophecies, etc., he’s someone worth imitating. No interpretaion required – or at any rate, a lot less interpretation required than with the house of cards that’s been built up since then.

    I’m also fascinated by Bonhoeffer’s vision of a “Religionless Christianity” – a vision of community and activity in and for this world – which he never had the chance to develop fully.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. As the Man himself said, we’ll be known by our fruits and by what we do for the least of these. Everything else is window dressing. It’s now what you claim to believe that matters, it’s what you do with it.

    And last but not least:

    Zen: Living it in the here and now, where the rubber meets the road. Fletcher was absolutely right. All ethics are situational.

    Any questions? I’ll be out of town for the next 2 weeks, but I’ll have access to teh Intarwebz and I’ll try to keep in touch.

  27. Oops, I meant “It’s not what you claim to believe…”

  28. This is a wonderful and thoughtful piece of writing! I hope you check in on the blog from time to time and share more of your thoughts with us.

  29. =blushing furiously= Why, thank you! 🙂 I’ve signed up to get your RSS via email. See you around……

  30. Interesting survey – whats the purpose of your research?

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