Should researchers think of ‘religion’ as ‘value’? Or is faith something different?

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H
ere’s a question that you can help researchers resolve: Do you think of “religion” as a “value” — or should faith and values be considered  separate parts of our lives?
    This is an important question, because some lists of “American values” developed in earlier research projects exclude religion as a different kind of human experience. It’s not that scholars are ignorant about religion. Anyone seriously studying American life is well aware that faith plays a huge role in our culture — but some scholars argue that the specific term “values” refers to other concepts that we hold dear in our lives.

    We raised a form of this question in an earlier OurValues story, but we’d really like to hear more from you about this issue.
    In my research work, I tend to think that a full exploration of American values should include questions about faith and religious attitudes — but that’s not a universal assumption in this field of study. In Europe, for example, some interviewers may avoid questions about faith, considering it to be a distinctly private matter. Some scholars argue that values and faith simply should be different categories.

    We need to hear what you think about this issue:

 

  • Do you think of religion as a value in your life? In the lives of other people?
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  • If you think the two categories are different, take a shot at trying to explain the difference between “religion” and “values.” I know that it’s a tough question and you may not have a complete, concise answer — but, please, tell us what you can about how you sort out these two terms.
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  • And, whether you think religion is a value — or not — tell us if there’s something you wish researchers would ask Americans about their faith that perhaps they’re not asking in a proper way.

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