Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Martha Copp

Committee Members

Lindsey King, Paul Kamolnick


This qualitative study aims to provide a sociological understanding of people who hold minority beliefs about spirituality and religion and to improve our sociological and social-psychological understanding of a-religious and alternatively religious people. Data were collected through indepth interviews with 10 atheist and 11 naturalist respondents. The study examines the religious histories of the respondents, how they left mainstream religion, how they adopted a minority identity with regard to religion/spirituality, and their personal experiences living in a predominately Christian area. I hypothesized that atheists and naturalists would hold minority identities and feel subordinated or oppressed by the dominant group: Christians. Analyses of interviews provided strong support for the idea that the respondents experienced a minority identity in the sociological sense.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.