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Faith No MoreWhy People Reject Religion$

Phil Zuckerman

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199740017

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199740017.001.0001

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(p.177) Appendix

(p.177) Appendix

Source:
Faith No More
Publisher:
Oxford University Press

Research Methods and Sample Characteristics

Although I have had numerous conversations with many apostates over the past two years—some brief, others extensive—the research for this book is specifically based on 87 formal interviews conducted between May 2008 and March 2010. By formal, I mean that these interviews were conducted in such a manner that the individuals knew that they were being interviewed for my book, they were informed of the research questions motivating the interview, and they consented to the process. A designated time was set aside to conduct each interview and a structured set of questions was referred to, although most interviews generally proceeded as open-ended conversations. Each interview lasted approximately one hour, although a few were closer to a half hour, and a few others were closer to two hours.

Of the 87 interviews, 49 were conducted by me, with the remaining 38 being conducted by my research assistants; most of my assistants conducted approximately two interviews each. These research assistants were part of a seminar I taught at Pitzer College in the spring of 2009, wherein they received extensive training on how to conduct these interviews. Nearly all 87 interviews were (p.178) tape-recorded and later transcribed for analysis; a few were tape-recorded but could not be transcribed for various technical reasons; and two interviews were not tape-recorded, but extensive notes were taken throughout those interviews. Of the 87 interviews, 16 were conducted over the phone, and the remaining 71 were done in person, face to face.

Apostates were generally found via a nonpurposive, judgmental sampling method in which I sought out potential informants based on my knowledge of their status as someone who had once been religious. When individuals agreed to an interview, I proceeded to find more apostates by employing a standard snowball sampling method in which additional individuals were recommended to me by those already interviewed; after interviewing a small cluster of friends and acquaintances, I subsequently asked them if they could recommend others who might be suitable for my study. From those recommended interviewees, I asked for additional contacts, and thus my sample grew and grew. Of the 87 men and women interviewed for this study, 6 were friends (people whom I see or socialize with on a fairly regular basis), 19 were acquaintances (people I knew prior to the interview, such as former students or colleagues—but not individuals whom I regularly see or socialize with), and 62 were complete strangers (people whom I had no contact with before or after the interviews).

Although men and women from a variety of ages, backgrounds, races, ethnicities, religious traditions, occupations, and geographical locations participated in these interviews, mine was a convenience sample and hence nonrandom. Thus, valid statistical generalizability to the wider population of American apostates is not possible.

Of those who were interviewed, 47 were male and 40 were female; 6% were in their late teens, 30% were in their twenties, 23% were in their thirties, 16% were in their forties, 15% were in their fifties, 8% were in their sixties, and 3% were in their seventies. Approximately 48% of my informants were raised in California, with others being raised in the Midwest (10%), the East Coast (11%), the South (9%), the Southwest (3%), and the (p.179) Pacific Northwest (3%). About 10% of interviewees were from other countries, such as England, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, and the Philippines. The percentages of where people were raised are approximations because sometimes people were raised in more than one state or country. In terms of educational attainment, approximately 5% had only completed a high school education; approximately 30% had either completed some college or were currently enrolled in college; approximately 33% had completed a bachelor's degree; and approximately 30% had completed an advanced/graduate degree. As for racial/ethnic identification, approximately 64% of my sample self-identified as White or Caucasian; 12% as Latino/a, Chicano/a, Hispanic, or Mexican-American; 12% as mixed-race or “other”; 7% as Asian, Asian-American, or Pacific Islander; and 3% as Black or African-American (these are approximations because there were a few who classified themselves in atypical ways, such as “Celtic,” “Jewish,” or “Persian”). Finally, in terms of the religious identity that they were raised in or once claimed but no longer identify with, approximately 50% had been some denomination of Protestant Christian, 27% had been Catholic, 7% had been Jewish, 5% had been Mormon, 5% had been Muslim, and the remainder were of mixed/combined religious backgrounds.

For further details on the demographics of my interviewees (such as political preferences, occupations, or class background based on occupation of parents), see the table below. (p.180)

Date of Interview

Gender

Age

Where Raised

Occupation

Highest Ed

Race/Ethnicity

Mother's Occ.

Father's Occ.

Pol. Party

Former/Ex-

1. 5/9/08

M

Mid-thirties

Southern CA

Library manager

Some college

White

Telephone operator

Transportation engineer

Libertarian

Pentecostal Christian

2. 5/14/08

F

Mid-thirties

upstate NY/Southern CA

Fundraiser

BA

Black

Hospital administrator

CPA

Dem

Nondenominational Christian

3. 5/16/08

F

Late twenties

Southern CA

Assistant director of nonprofit

BA

White

Teacher's aide

Police officer/truck driver

Dem

Lutheran

4. 5/18/08

M

Early thirties

Southern CA

Comm. college prof.

MA

Italian-American

Spiritual counselor

Nurse

Independent

Evangelical Christian

5. 5/27/08

F

Late twenties

Northern CA

Student/tutor

AA

White

Dance teacher

Carpenter

Dem

Christian

6. 5/27/08

F

Mid-forties

Southern CA

Architect

MA

White

School teacher

Realtor

Nonpartisan

Pentecostal Christian

7. 6/2/08

M

Mid-forties

Southern CA

Audio-visual librarian

BA

White

Hairdresser

Contractor

Independent

Christian

8. 6/3/08

M

Early twenties

Southern CA

Student

Some college

White

Librarian

Think-tank consultant

Independent

Conservative Jewish

9. 6/6/08

M

Early twenties

Southern CA

Law student

BA

White

Spiritual counselor

Nurse

Green/Independent

Evangelical Christian

10. 6/10/08

F

Late twenties

Southern CA

Adjunct professor

MA

White

Dental assistant

Teach specialist for electric co.

Green/Dem

Christian

11. 9/12/08

M

Early sixties

CO

Professor

PhD

Chicano/Latino

Homemaker/vegetable picker

Farmhand

Dem

Catholic

12. 9/29/08

F

Early twenties

Southern CA

Student

Some college

Mexican

Administrative assistant

Video editor

Dem

Catholic

13. 10/8/08

F

Mid-twenties

Southern CA

Grad students

MA

Caucasian, ¼ Native American

Oil analyst

Museum curator/gun shop owner

Republican/Libertarian

Seventh Day Adventist

14. 10/8/08

F

Late thirties

IL

Writer

BA

White

Homemaker/librarian

Christian youth director

Dem

Baptist/Presbyterian

15. 10/15/08

F

Late twenties

MO

Grad student

BA

“Other”

Speech pathologist

Food industry consultant

Not registered

Jewish

16. 10/19/08

M

Late fifties

Ghana

Computer programmer

Some college

Black

Homemaker

Farmer

Dem

Jehovah's Witness

17. 10/29/08

M

Mid-sixties

CO

Retired dentist

Doctorate in dentistry

White

Homemaker

Painter/contractor

Dem

Lutheran

18. 10/29/08

F

Early twenties

Southern CA

Receptionist/student

Some college

White

Secretary

Construction superintendent

Dem

Mormon

19. 11/4/08

M

Late thirties

TX

College instructor

PhD

White

Nurse

Accountant

Not registered

Christian

20. 11/18/08

M

Early thirties

Belgium

Actor

AA

White

Teacher

Farmer

N/A

Catholic

21. 11/11/08

M

Late twenties

GA

Bartender/writer

BS

White

Teacher/office clerk

Accountant

Dem

Catholic

22. 11/14/08

M

Mid-twenties

MI

Student

BA

White

Teacher

Salesman

Green

Lutheran

23. 11/15/08

F

Late twenties

NY/KS

Martial arts instructor/actress

BA

White

Special needs instructor

Portfolio manager

Dem

Jewish

24. 11/16/08

M

Mid-fifties

VA

Flower breeder

Some college

White

Librarian

Professor

Dem

Evangelical Christian

25. 11/23/08

M

Early fifties

CO

Scientist at drug company

BA

White

Homemaker/greenhouse worker

Truck driver

Dem

Christian

26. 11/23/08

M

Mid-thirties

Southern CA

Health consultant/writer/teacher

MA

White

Homemaker

Gasman

Dem

Mormon

27. 11/26/08

M

Late thirties

IL

College advisor

BA

White

Homemaker/nursery school teacher

Social worker

Not registered

Christian

28. 12/1/08

M

Early thirties

OH

Thesaurus editor

BA

White

Homemaker

Musician/railroad engineer

Not registered

United Methodist

29. 12/2/08

F

Early twenties

Southern CA

Student

Some college

Mexican

Book-keeper

Unemployed

Dem

Christian

30. 12/7/08

M

Early sixties

ID

High school teacher/musician

BA, plus teaching credential

White

Nurse

Carpenter

Republican

Mormon

31. 12/18/08

M

Late forties

Southern CA

Elementary school teacher

MA

White

Teacher

Homemaker

Green

Evangelical/Baptist/Mennonite/Catholic

32. 1/21/09

F

Late twenties

Southern CA

Nonprofit program coordinator

BA

White

Nurse

Forklift driver

Green

Nondenominational Christian

33. 1/23/09

M

Late forties

Southern CA

Small business owner

BA

White

Homemaker

Budget analyst/defense contractor

Dem

Catholic

34. 1/26/09

F

Early twenties

Southern CA

Bank teller

High school

White/Native American

Phone operator/housewife

Sheet metal worker/small business owner

Independent

Christian

35. 2/4/09

F

Mid-thirties

MN

Law student

BA

White

Computer programmer/homemaker

Meat cutter

Dem

Jehovah's Witness

36. 2/9/09

M

Early seventies

MD/GA

Retired schoolteacher

MA

White

Homemaker/secretary

Federal employee

Dem

Methodist

37. 2/18/09

F

Early thirties

Southern CA

Waitress

Some college

White

Secretary/office clerk

Landscaper

Dem

Christian

38. 2/25/09

F

Mid-fifties

PA

Professor

PhD

White

Homemaker/office clerk

Machine operator

**

Christian

39. 2/25/09

M

Late forties

NY

Writer

BFA

White

Nurse

Lawyer

Independent/Dem

Catholic

40. 3/3/09

F

Mid-twenties

Northern CA

Food server/student

Some college

White

Unemployed

Truck driver

**

Christian

41. 3/4/09

F

Late thirties

Canada/CA

Sales account manager

BA

White

Homemaker

Doctor

Dem

Catholic

42. 3/5/09

M

Late teens

Northern CA

Lifeguard/student

Some college

White

Prosecutor

Professor

None

Christian

43. 3/6/09

M

Late fifties

Southern CA

Small business owner

MA

Portuguese

Homemaker

Self-employed

Dem

Catholic

44. 3/6/09

F

Mid-fifties

GA

Doctor

Med school

Jewish

Homemaker

Shoe salesman

Dem

Orthodox Jewish

45. 3/8/09

M

Late teens

OH

Student

Some college

White

Homemaker/artist

CEO of investment firm

None

Christian

46. 3/8/09

F

Mid-sixties

NY

Retired apartment manager

High school

White

Cook

Carpenter

**

Baptist

47. 3/9/08

F

Early forties

Philippines

Director of Research

MA

Filipino

Owner/director of private school

Sugar salesman

Dem

Catholic/Christian

48. 3/9/09

M

Mid-fifties

Northern CA

Student

Some college

White

Unknown

Iron worker

Dem

Christian

49. 3/12/09

F

Early twenties

Southern CA

Student

Some college

White

Librarian/admissions officer

Elementary school teacher

None

Nondenominational Christian

50. 3/14/09

M

Mid-twenties

Northern CA

Grad school student

BA

Indian

Teacher

CEO of tech corp.

None

Hindu

51. 3/17/09

F

Late thirties

Southern CA

Homemaker

BA

Chicana

Unclear

Factory worker

Green/Dem

Catholic

52. 3/18/09

F

Early fifties

Southern CA/Guam

Spiritual advisor

High school

Pacific Islander

Warehouse worker

Auto mechanic

**

Southern Baptist

53. 3/19/09

F

Late sixties

England

Retired editor

BA

White

Homemaker

Engineer

Dem

Catholic

54. 3/19/09

F

Early fifties

England

Librarian

MA

White

High school teacher

Manager of shipping company

Dem

Christian

55. 3/20/09

M

Late fifties

CT

Attorney

PhD

White

Homemaker/school teacher

Professor

Dem

Congregationalist

56. 3/20/09

F

Late teens

NY

Student

Some college

Thai-American

Homemaker

Owner of landscape company

Dem

Jewish

57. 3/23/09

M

Mid-twenties

TX

Student

Some college

White

Teacher

Engineer

Republican

Catholic

58. 3/23/09

F

Late teens

Southern CA

Student

Some college

White

Homemaker

Expert witness for insurance co.

Dem

Catholic

59. 3/24/09

M

Early twenties

Southern CA

Student

Some college

Latino/Chicano

Café manager

Groundskeeper

Dem

Catholic

60. 3/25/09

M

Late thirties

NY

Professor

PhD

African American

Junior high teacher

Musician/mass transit authority employee

Not registered

Pentecostal Christian

61. 3/26/09

M

Late seventies

Southern CA

**

AA

Chicano

Homemaker

Laborer

Dem

Catholic

62. 3/26/09

F

Late forties

Germany/Belgium/Spain

Professor

PhD

White

Translator

Chemist

Dem

Catholic

63. 3/26/09

M

Mid-forties

Southern CA

In-home health care provider

Some college

Chicano

**

**

Socialist

Jehovah's Witness

64. 4/3/09

M

Mid-thirties

Saudi Arabia

Small business owner

BA

White

Principal

Civil engineer

Dem

Muslim

65. 4/7/09

M

Mid-twenties

Southern CA

Elementary schoolteacher

MA

Mexican-Italian-American

Homemaker/babysitter

High school teacher/job counselor

Dem

Catholic

66. 4/11/09

M

Mid-forties

Southern CA

Sales

Some college

Mexican American

Receptionist

Pressman

Dem

Catholic

67. 4/14/09

M

Early sixties

IL

Student

BA

Celtic

School teacher

Machinist

None

Catholic

68. 4/15/09

F

Late thirties

Southern CA

Homemaker

BA

White

Grocery checker

Computer programmer

Dem

Mormon

69. 4/17/09

M

Mid-thirties

NJ

Student/carpenter

Some college

White

Psychologist

Electrical engineer

Independent

Christian

70. 4/17/09

F

Late teens

OR

Student

Some college

Lebanese/Arab-American

Homemaker

Small business owner

Dem

Muslim

71. 4/17/09

M

Late twenties

TX

Law student

BA

Persian

**

**

**

Muslim

72. 4/19/09

F

Mid-forties

Southern CA

Marriage counselor

MA

White

Homemaker

Produce business owner

Independent

Christian

73. 4/23/09

M

Mid-twenties

Southern CA

Student

Some college

Filipino

Teacher

Musician/artist

None

Catholic

74. 4/24/09

F

Late forties

Mexico

Professor

PhD

Mexican

Homemaker

Engineer

Dem

Catholic

75. 4/24/09

M

Early fifties

Southern CA

Psychologist

MA

White

Interior designer

Engineer

Dem

Catholic

76. 4/25/09

F

Early fifties

NY

Social

Worker

MA

White

**

**

**

Christian

77. 4/25/09

M

Early thirties

NY

Writer

BA

White

Psycho-dramatist

President of company

Dem

Jewish

78. 4/26/09

F

Mid-seventies

Southern CA

**

High school

Mexican American

Worked at restaurant

County employee/flood control

Dem

Catholic/Presbyterian

79. 5/3/09

F

Mid-fifties

WI

Math teacher

BA

White

Fashion designer

Attorney

Dem

Melchite/Roman Catholic

80. 6/4/09

M

Mid-forties

MD

Adjunct professor

PhD

White

School teacher

School teacher

Dem

Catholic

81. 11/18/09

M

Early sixties

Southern CA

Substitute teacher

BA

White

Homemaker

Contractor/carpenter

Dem/Green

Presbyterian

82. 11/30/09

M

Early forties

Southern CA

Video game artist

High school

Irish-Italian

Hairdresser/retail clerk

Plumber/salesman

Dem

Catholic/Christian

83. 12/7/09

M

Mid-thirties

ND

Writer/film maker

MBA

White

Insurance claim adjuster

Accountant

Independent

Lutheran

84. 12/10/09

F

Mid-twenties

WA

Student

BA

White

Homemaker

Marine

Progressive

Christian

85. 12/15/09

M

Mid-twenties

Southern CA

Student

Some college

Mexican/Hispanic

Teacher's assistant

Truck driver

Independent

Catholic

86. 1/8/10

F

Mid-twenties

Bangladesh

Grad student

MA

Bengali

Homemaker/manager of bakery

Economic policy advisor

**

Muslim

87. 3/18/1-

F

Early forties

CA

Homemaker

BA

Hispanic/Basque

**

Rancher/farmer

**

Catholic

(**) Answers were unclear, inaudible, unknown, or inapplicable.

Race/ethnicity: self-determined/stated by individual being interviewed.

(p.181) (p.182) (p.183) (p.184) (p.185) (p.186) (p.187)