Blasphemous attitudes and religiosity

Blasphemy exists wherever there is organised religion. It is a powerful and effective check on actions deemed by the believers as undermining the core beliefs pertaining to the sacred. Does this mean that the intensity of blasphemous attitudes is related to the level of religiosity? Religiosity refers to the degree of religious commitment or piety. Different measures of religiosity are widely used in sociological analysis to ascertain the intensity of religious commitment. One of the most widely used approaches to measure religiosity has been proposed by Stark and Glock[17] and Glock.[18] Their approach conceptualises religiosity as a multidimensional phenomenon consisting of five dimensions namely, ideological, ritualistic, intellectual, experiential and consequential. In my study of Muslim religiosity I used a modified version of this approach with very useful results.[19] These dimensions were also found to be significantly inter-correlated.

In order not to overload this paper with statistics I will use the values of only one dimension of religiosity here. This dimension in my study was labelled as Ideological. It corresponds to Stark and Glock’s intellectual dimension and refers to the fundamental beliefs to which a religious person is expected and often required to adhere. For the purposes of this paper this dimension is clearly relevant since it refers to the knowledge of core religious beliefs a person must hold as a believer. The belief structures can be divided into warranting, purposive and implementing beliefs. The first type of beliefs warrant the existence of the divine and defines its character; the second type of beliefs explain the divine purpose and define the believers’ role with regard to that purpose and the third type provide the grounds for the ethical strictures of religion.[20]

It should be obvious that this dimension of religiosity has a direct bearing on whether or not certain acts are blasphemous. With this in mind I will use the findings of my religiosity survey pertaining to the ideological dimension to ascertain if the level of religiosity is related to the strength of blasphemous attitudes. The results reported in Table 2 show that the level of religiosity is strongly associated with the strength of blasphemous attitudes.