Abstract

Religious mobility (“switching”) takes place across a terrain defined by the spaces between religious denominations, where distance is usually measured by divergent beliefs and social status differences. The odds of moving from one denomination to another are determined by the distance between them, i.e., how far apart they are theologically and socially. However, many Americans switch religions to harmonize their marriage. The question arises as to whether this represents a different kind of religious mobility. Are denominations as distant when arrayed theologically or socially as when arrayed on the criterion of switching for reasons of marriage? Using an item from the National Survey of Families and Households establishing whether or not a religious switch occurred for reasons of marriage, the effects of denomination of origin and denomination of destination on the odds of switching for either set of reasons are compared. Switching for reasons of marriage redraws the map, pulling certain denominations closer together and creating more distance between others. Switching for reasons of marriage is more powerfully influenced by destination denomination than denomination of origin.

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