Belief or beliefs constitute a central element in religious life. Examples of belief include “belief in God” or “belief in a higher power,” bearing in mind that not all so-called religious people would answer “Yes” to these questions. Belief, moreover, relates variously to other religious indicators: for example, affiliation, attendance at services, or the salience of religion in individual lives. This entry covers the concept of belief as such, its many variations, and its relationship to other variables paying particular attention to “believing without belonging.”

Beliefs, like religion itself, can be considered in different ways. The first follows the substantive approach to religion, conceptualizing belief in terms of supernatural agents or forces that have an impact on human living. The second approach, often associated with Émile ...

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