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Is RELTRAD Still the Gold Standard?

Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

Published online on


--- - |2 Abstract The RELTRAD syntax remains the most influential operational method for assessing religious affiliations among respondents in major surveys. However, RELTRAD suffers from several key limitations. Consequently, a new coding scheme known as “Religious Identification” has emerged as an alternative. The goal of this article is to determine whether one of these disparate techniques yields more insightful results that further our knowledge of the dynamics of American religion. Findings from the 1984–2016 General Social Survey indicate that RELTRAD offers more precise statistical estimates when analyzing various religious sensibilities and religious‐related social attitudes. This is due to several factors, most notable is RELTRAD's recognition of distinctiveness within the African‐American Protestant religion tradition. - Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, EarlyView.