Perceptions of Science and American Secularism

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Theorized links between science and secularism are prevalent in classic sociological thought. More recently, scholars have critiqued these frameworks as oversimplified and empirically untenable. In response to such criticisms, contemporary researchers typically overlook or actively argue against links between science and secularism. This study analyzes data from a random, national survey of adults to examine the empirical connections between perceptions of science and secular identities in the United States. Analyses demonstrate that perceptions of science correlate strongly with American secularism, particularly among atheists and agnostics. Additionally, politicized views of science help account for the previously documented relationship between political and secular identities in the United States. A perspective drawing on the sociology of culture and perceived knowledge provides a more useful framework for understanding these patterns than theories of secularization.