Reconceptualizing Religious Change: Ethno-Apostasy and Change in Religion among American Jews

Publication Date: January 2006

Publisher: Association for the Sociology of Religion

Author(s): Shaul Kelner; Benjamin Phillips

Research Area: Culture and religion

Keywords: American Jews; Identity formation; Religion

Type: Report


Drawing upon data from the NJPS 2000-1, we argue that traditional approaches to the study of religious mobility – both apostasy and switching – are increasingly problematic. Apostasy from ethno-religious communities, in particular, must be reformulated to incorporate an ethnic dimension. Analyses using this revised concept of “ethno-apostasy” lead to results that at times diverge from those of previous research. The findings suggest that the premise that religious switching is a binary change from one mutually incompatible state to another must be reconceptualized to account for declining support in American society for the assumption that a person can hold only one religious affiliation at a time.