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Article

On the Relationship of Value Priorities with the Centrality of Religiosity and a Variety of Religious Orientations and Emotions

1
Institut für Theologie, Pädagogische Hochschule Ludwigsburg, 71634 Ludwigsburg, Germany
2
Institute of Empirical Research on Religion, Universität Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Arndt Büssing and Roberto Cipriani
Religions 2021, 12(3), 157; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030157
Received: 24 December 2020 / Revised: 19 February 2021 / Accepted: 24 February 2021 / Published: 27 February 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research with the Centrality of Religiosity Scale (CRS))

Abstract

In this study, the relationship between religiosity and value priorities is differentiated, based on a multidimensional model of religiosity (Structure-of-Religiosity-Test). The structure of values is conceptualized using Shalom H. Schwartz’s two orthogonal dimensions of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement and openness to change vs. conservation. The relationship between these two dimensions and the centrality of religiosity, seven religious orientations, seven emotions toward God, and three political orientations were tested with a correlational analysis in a sample of members of Abrahamic religions, the non-denominational, and organized secularists in Switzerland (n = 1093). The results show, that different values are preferred (self-direction, universalism, benevolence, tradition, security, and power values) depending on the content of the religious orientations and emotions toward God. The results indicate the importance of the content of religious orientations and emotions for predicting value-loaded behaviors.
Keywords: religiosity; values; emotions toward God; spirituality; religious fundamentalism religiosity; values; emotions toward God; spirituality; religious fundamentalism

1. Introduction

1.1. Topic, Research Question and Hypothesis

Recently, the relationship between value priorities and religiosity has received new attention (Fontaine et al. 2005; Gennerich 2018; Gennerich and Huber 2006; Pepper et al. 2010; Saroglou et al. 2004; Schwartz and Huismans 1995). Due to the integrative framework of Schwartz’s (1992) two-dimensional value conception, more stable and clearer results are being gained in these studies in contrast to former research (cf., Rokeach 1969).
Using Schwartz’s value conception Schwartz and Huismans (1995) developed the following hypotheses: Considering theological, sociological, and psychological research, they predict that religiosity correlates most positively with the value classes of tradition, conformity and security. The results confirm this hypothesis in four western religions (Israeli Jews, Spanish Roman Catholics, Dutch Calvinist Protestants, and Greek Orthodox) and a representative German sample. The largest correlation of religiosity is found with tradition. Moreover, a meta-analysis by Saroglou et al. (2004) contains 21 samples from 15 countries (total n = 8551) and leads to further confirmation of the hypothesis. This first new step to a solution of the relationship between religiosity and values leads to obviously stable results.
However, research on religion, morality, and prejudice shows that the relationship between, e.g., religion and prejudice depends on the kind of religious orientation taken into account during the measurement (Hood et al. 2018, pp. 404–59). Therefore, looking at the religiosity-value relation allows for a more differentiated analysis. Such an analysis with a multi-dimensional measurement of religion was provided by Fontaine et al. (2005). Using the Post-Critical Belief scale (Fontaine et al. 2003), consisting of the two dimensions exclusion vs. inclusion of transcendence and literal vs. symbolic approaches to religion, the authors can show the following: On the one hand, the inclusion of transcendence mainly correlates with tradition (similar to the single-item scale in Schwartz and Huismans 1995). Further, the dimension literal vs. symbolic correlates in a nearly orthogonal way with the value conflict of universalism and benevolence on the one hand and security and power on the other hand. Thus, the relation of values and religiosity seems to be highly dependent on the individual’s interpretation of his or her religious tradition.
Similar, Gennerich and Huber (2006) analyzed the relationship between values and religiosity using eight alternative contents of religiosity (religious pluralism, reflexivity and interest, religious dualism, strength and exclusivism, worship attendance, and religiosity measured with a single item) drawn from the “Structure-of-Religiosity-Test” (Huber 2003, 2008, 2009). As predicted, the various scales clearly show a differentiation of the relationship between religiosity and values. While measurements of conservative religiosity (i.e., religious dualism, social strength, and exclusivism) correlate with values of tradition and security, measurements of quest religiosity (i.e., religious pluralism, religious reflexivity and interest) correlate with self-direction, universalism, and benevolence.
More recently, Pepper et al. (2010) related different God concepts to the value classes by Schwartz. God as a “benevolent guide” correlated most positively with benevolence and most negatively with hedonism, whereas the concept of a “distant God” relates positively to hedonism and negatively to benevolence. In addition, the concept of a “strict God” correlates slightly positively with power and negatively with benevolence. The concept of a “kingly God” correlates slightly positively with tradition and negatively with hedonism. Moreover, the concept of a “servant God” correlates most positively with tradition and most negatively with self-direction. Furthermore, Gennerich (2013a) relates different emotions toward God using the scale by Huber and Richard (2010) with a two-dimensional values scale according to the concept of Schwartz. In a sample of adolescent churchgoers, anger, rage, anxiety, and fear (scare) toward God were correlated to values of hedonism and achievement, whereas guilt and failure toward God were correlated with values of power. Further, hope toward God was correlated with values of universalism. Finally, protection, joy, awe, gratitude, and trust correlated with benevolence and reverence and release from guilt with values of tradition and conformity. In sum, preferences for different values are related to specific forms of religiosity. Religiosity as a scientific concept seems to be a rather broad construct. Therefore, our main hypothesis is that various religious orientations and emotions including the centrality of religiosity relate differently to the two basic dimensions of value preferences proposed by Shalom H. Schwartz.

1.2. Review of Recent Research

Values were posited by Rokeach (1973) as the primary content of an individual’s identity. According to Rokeach, values function as cognitive standards for personal action. He contends that values are universal but are differentially esteemed. When the structure of values was addressed by Schwartz and Bilsky (1987), they hypothesized universal conflicts in the content of values. In 1992, Schwartz documented research in 20 countries that led to a bipolar structure of 56 rated values in two orthogonal dimensions of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement and conservation vs. openness to change. The resulting circle of values represents the relativity of values: incompatible values are plotted far apart and similar ones are plotted close together (see figures in Schwartz 1992). Meanwhile, multidimensional scaling replicates this circular model in 83 countries (Schwartz et al. 2012).
The measures of religiosity employed in this study are well established (cf. Huber 2009; Huber and Huber 2012; Huber and Krech 2009; Huber and Richard 2010) and were used in various studies. Correlations of these measures with values provide a basis for the expected results in our study.
“Centrality of religion” correlated with universalism and benevolence in the study by Gennerich (2018, p. 265) and with tradition in Gennerich and Kolb (2019, p. 104). “Religious pluralism” was related to self-direction in the study by Gennerich and Huber (2006, p. 260) and Gennerich and Kolb (2019, p. 104) and to benevolence in the study by Gennerich et al. (2018, p. 1311). “Religious reflexivity” was located in the area of universalism in Gennerich and Huber (2006, p. 260) and Gennerich and Kolb (2019, p. 104) and the area of benevolence in the study by Gennerich et al. (2018, p. 1311). “Worldview fundamentalism” (as a variant of religious fundamentalism) was related to security values in Gennerich (2018, p. 25) and Gennerich and Kolb (2019, p. 104). Furthermore, “atheism” was related to achievement values in Gennerich and Kolb (2019, 104) and values of stimulation and hedonism in Gennerich et al. (2018, p. 1311).
Some studies also differentiated between a religious and spiritual identity. A self-assessment as religious is correlated with values of benevolence (Gennerich 2018, p. 265; Streib and Gennerich 2011, p. 42) and tradition (Gennerich et al. 2018, p. 1311; Piotrowski and Żemojtel-Piotrowska 2020), whereas a self-assessment as spiritual is related to universalism (Gennerich 2018, p. 265; Gennerich et al. 2018, p. 1311; Saroglou et al. 2004; Streib and Gennerich 2011, p. 42) and benevolence (Piotrowski and Żemojtel-Piotrowska 2020). The results are quite similar considering the diversity of the samples (Poland vs. Germany, adolescents vs. adults).
Expanding the concept of religious orientations, we integrate religious emotions in our study. Some recent studies address emotions toward God. Anger toward God was studied by Exline and Martin (2005) and Exline et al. (2011). They found that anger toward God was related to atheistic attitudes, poorer adjustment to bereavement, and cancer. In Gennerich (2013a, p. 28) anger toward God correlated with the item of disbelief in God’s existence in the value segment of hedonism and achievement.
Gratitude toward God was studied by Krause (2006), who found that older women are more likely to feel grateful to God and that gratitude toward God has a stress-buffering effect, especially for older women in deteriorated neighborhoods. Additionally, Krause and Ellison (2009) found that participation in highly cohesive congregations leads to more gratitude toward God, especially because people receive emotional support within such congregations. Awe of God has also received some attention in research: Krause and Hayward (2015a) found that people with awe of God show a higher frequency in church attendance, feel more embedded in their congregations, and are more prone to find religious meaning in their life. They also found that people with awe of God show greater life satisfaction because awe of God is related to a feeling of connectedness with others which is related to life satisfaction (Krause and Hayward 2015b). In line with this research on gratitude toward God and awe, the first results on the relationship between value priorities and these emotions were obtained. According to Gennerich (2013a), gratitude toward God and awe of God are plotted in the value segment of benevolence together with a concept of “God as love” and “God as ultimate value” as well as contents of prayer like “praying for direction,” “praying for others,” and “expressing gratitude.”
The emotions of security, anxiety, guilt toward God and the relief of being freed from guilt were less prominent in recent research. However, in the study by Gennerich (2013a) the emotion of security toward God was related to values of benevolence, the emotion of anxiety was related toward achievement values, the emotion of guilt with power values and freed from guilt with values of tradition.
Additionally, we take political orientations into account. Cohrs et al. (2005) found that social dominance orientation (SDO) and right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) plotted in the area of values of security and power. Furthermore, in Gennerich (2018) the political positions (left vs. right) show a curvilinear relationship with values: a “left” and a “rather left” position locates in the area of self-direction values and universalism, whereas a “middle” position locates in the segment of security values and a “rather right” position locates in the segment of power. Finally, a “right” position locates in the segment of achievement values.
According to the reviewed findings with the Structure-of-Religiosity-Test, our hypothesis is that the employed scales show a similar correlation pattern with the two value dimensions in the new sample of this study. In the next step, we introduce the sample and the measurements of the religious and political concepts employed. Subsequently, in the results section, we report the correlations between the reviewed religious and political concepts and the two value dimensions by Shalom H. Schwartz. Additionally, we present how the measurements of religious and political orientations are correlated with emotions toward God. Finally, the discussion section compares our results with recent research and draws practical conclusions for the field of religious education and therapy.

2. Methods

2.1. Sample

The sampling was oriented toward the aim of the project, namely to investigate structures of prejudice in the mutual perception of members of Abrahamic religions as well as of the non-denominational and secularists. By secularists, we mean non-denominational people who belong to an association that is critical of religion and advocates for the separation of church and state. Within Christianity, not only members of the two large national churches but also members of free churches and Orthodox churches should be examined. These project goals could hardly be achieved with a representative sample, since Jews, Muslims, free churches, and Orthodox Christians, as well as secularists, would not be present in a sufficient size. Therefore, samples were taken from secularist organizations (e.g., freethinkers) as well as from churches and religious communities. All Jewish communities and associations in Switzerland were contacted and asked for help. Furthermore, numerous Muslim mosque communities and associations as well as Orthodox churches and free churches were written to and asked for help. The same procedure was followed for congregations of the two large national churches in the Bern and Zurich area. All the organizations contacted were provided with text modules for their newsletters as well as further information on the study—e.g., the positive decision of the ethics committee at the University of Bern. Many of these communities supported the project by distributing the link for the online questionnaire to their members. The online questionnaire was accessible via a website that also contained background information on the study (www.xeno.unibe.ch). In addition to the national languages German and French, the questionnaire could also be completed in Albanian, Bosnian, English, Croatian, Serbian and Turkish. The translations were checked by translation and retranslation. Moreover, the online survey was open from autumn 2015 to autumn 2018. A total of 1093 persons took part in the survey (age: M = 47.04, SD = 17.29; female: 51.4%; persons with migration background: 32.5%; persons with university degree: 63.4%). Of these, 213 persons professed their faith in the Reformed Church, 223 in the Catholic Church and 132 in a free church, 156 in Islam and 77 in Judaism. In addition, 205 non-denominational participants took part, including 46 persons from a secularist association. Finally, 87 persons belong to another church or religion or did not express their religious affiliation.

2.2. Measure of Values

The personal value preferences were assessed using 10 items from Schwartz’s PVQ21 used in the World Value Survey (Welzel 2010). Participants had to estimate the degree of similarity to a person with certain value preferences on a six-point scale. Each value class is represented by one item (see Figure 1). The 10 items were ipsatized and then factor analyzed. The scree plot of the principal component analysis clearly indicates a two-dimensional solution (with eigenvalues of 2.12, 2.02, 1.20, 1.03, 0.95, etc.), explaining 41.4% of the variance. The factor scores of the two Varimax-rotated components were saved to compute correlations of the variables we are interested in.
The results in Figure 1 show that the basic dimensions of the value field are sufficiently represented by the 10 selected items in our sample: The pole of self-transcendence values is represented in line with Schwartz’s (1992) theory of values of benevolence and universalism. The pole of self-enhancement values is well represented by values of power, achievement and hedonism. The pole of conservation is represented by values of conformity and security and the pole of openness to change by values of self-direction and stimulation. However, some items don’t plot exactly in the theoretical segments of the field (i.e., benevolence, tradition and hedonism). Nonetheless, the content of the dimensions is not influenced in a relevant way by their slightly shifted positions.

2.3. Measures of Religiosity

The measures of religiosity are based on a model of religiosity that distinguishes between the centrality and a variety of contents of religiosity (Huber 2003, 2008). In this model, centrality refers to the general strength of religiosity in the personality and the content refers to the direction in which religiosity directs a person. Therefore, religious contents can also be called religious orientations.
The centrality of religiosity was measured using the interreligious version of the Centrality of Religiosity Scale with seven items (CRSi-7) (Huber and Huber 2012). In addition, 14 contents of religiosity were measured by instruments that were drawn from the Structure-of-Religiosity-Test (S-R-T). Most of these measures were also applied in the international Religion Monitor of the Bertelsmann Stiftung (Huber 2009; Huber and Krech 2009). In detail we included the following contents of religiosity:
  • The salience of religious and spiritual identities was measured by single items. In addition, atheism was measured by a five-item scale. These identities are general religious orientations in the context of secularization and individualization.
  • Religious pluralism (2 item scale), syncretism (single item), and fundamentalism (6 item scale) are three further orientations that refer to the context of religious pluralization.
  • Religious reflexivity (3 item scale) is a style of being religious.
  • Finally, we included seven items that indicate different emotions toward God according to Huber and Richard (2010).
Some of these religious orientations can be categorized in an arc of tension between more liberal and more conservative religious positions. A spiritual identity as well as religious pluralism, religious syncretism, and religious reflexivity express rather liberal religious positions. It can be expected that they correlate negatively with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change. In contrast, religious identity, as well as religious fundamentalism, express a rather conservative religious position. They should correlate positively with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change (see Section 1.2 above).

2.4. Measures of Political Orientations

Three scales for the measurement of political orientations were applied in our study (see Appendix A). Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) according to the concept by Pratto et al. (1994) and Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) according to Altemeyer (1981). Additionally, a measurement of the political position (left vs. right) was conducted with a single item. Further, based on the results of Cohrs et al. (2005) we expect that these political orientations correlate most with values of security and power.

3. Results

As shown in Table 1 and visualized in Figure 2 the results confirm the documented correlation patterns based on our analysis of previous research. However, the correlations are minor in comparison to Gennerich and Huber (2006, p. 260) because in our former study we used a bipolar value measurement. In this study, the value items were based on Schwartz’s PVQ21 and had to be ipsatized, resulting in minor correlations (cf. Gennerich et al. 2018).
The measure of religious fundamentalism plots in the area of values of tradition (see Figure 1 and Figure 2). It correlates with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement by r = 0.09 and with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change by r = 0.13.
The single item of religious identity plots in the value segment of benevolence with a correlation of r = 0.22 regarding the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement and r = 0.12 regarding the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change. In comparison, the single item of spiritual identity plots in the value segment of universalism correlating with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement by r = 0.17 and r = −0.06 regarding the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change. The Centrality of Religiosity Scale plots between both these single-item measures and shows a correlation of r = 0.26 with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement and r = 0.07 with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change.
Further, religious reflexivity correlates with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement by r = 0.14 and with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change by r = −0.10. Looking at Figure 2, the scale of religious reflexivity correlates most with the value-segments of universalism and self-direction.
The religious pluralism scale mainly correlates with the value segment of benevolence (see Figure 2). The correlation pattern is r = 0.10 with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement and r = 0.04 with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change. The single item of religious syncretism is located in the segment of self-direction with a correlation of r = 0.01 with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement and r = −0.07 with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change.
The scale of atheism is located in the area of achievement values with a correlation of r = −0.25 with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement and r = −0.11 with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change.
Rather orthogonal to all measures of religiosity above the scales of right-wing-authoritarianism (r = −0.17 and r = 0.25), social dominance orientation (r = −0.28 and r = 0.10) and preference for the political right (vs. left) (r = −0.16 and r = 0.18) are located in the segment of security and power values.
In respect to the emotions toward God the results in Figure 3 show the following pattern: The emotions of awe, gratitude and security toward God and freed from guilt plotted in the value segment of benevolence. Subsequently, the correlations are presented in detail: Security in relation to God correlated with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement by r = 0.22 and with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change by r = 0.12. Further, gratitude toward God correlated with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement, r = 0.24 and with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change, r = 0.12. Awe of God correlated r = 0.18 with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement and r = 0.07 with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change. Moreover, the emotion of being freed from guilt in relationship to God correlated r = 0.16 with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement and r = 0.08 with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change.
The emotion of guilt in relation to God is plotted in the segment of tradition and correlated with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement by r = 0.06 and r = 0.19 with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change. Anxiety toward God is plotted in the segment of security values and correlated with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement by r = −0.06 and r = 0.21 with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change. Anger toward God is plotted in the segment of power values and correlated with the dimension of self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement by r = −0.14 and r = 0.02 with the dimension of conservation vs. openness to change.
Table 2 shows the direct correlations of centrality of religiosity and the religious and political orientations with the emotions toward God. The higher correlations show a pattern well in line with their locations in the value circle.
Centrality of religiosity, as well as religious and spiritual identity correlate highest with those emotions which are located closest to their position in the value circle: Awe (0.72/0.66/0.45), gratitude (0.84/0.75/0.45), security (0.84/0.75/0.44), freed from guilt (0.71/0.65/0.40). The correlation with anger (with the greatest distance in the circle) is the smallest (0.16/0.12/0.12). Religious fundamentalism is also located close to the emotions of awe, gratitude, security, freed from guilt, but less close in comparison to centrality of religiosity, and religious identity, which show a similar pattern. However, of all scales, religious fundamentalism correlates highest with the emotion of guilt toward God which is located near religious fundamentalism in the value segment of tradition. Atheism, on the other hand, correlates negatively with positive emotions toward God, and shows very small correlations with anger and anxiety toward God (0.05 with anger and −0.08 with anxiety).
Religious reflexivity indicates a similar pattern as spiritual identity regarding emotions toward God: In comparison to the centrality of religiosity and religious identity, the correlations are smaller (for example, r = 0.45 with gratitude and 0.41 with awe). Religious pluralism and religious syncretism show no substantial correlation with the emotions toward God. Especially, the item freed from guilt shows a negative correlation (−0.16/−0.11) with both orientations.
Furthermore, the political orientations show rather small correlations with the emotions toward God. However, RWA correlates highest with anxiety and guilt toward God which are two emotions in the neighborhood of RWA in the value circle.

4. Discussion

The study is based on responses from an online questionnaire. The link was open for three years. As a result, there is a risk that people who do not belong to the target group participated in the survey. However, the validity of the findings is supported by the fact that Christian churches, non-Christian religious communities, and secularist organizations forwarded the link to their members with a recommendation to participate. This means that there is a high probability that many people from this target group took part in the survey. The success of this strategy is indicated by the high number of Jews (n = 77), Muslims (n = 156), free-church Christians (n = 132), and secularists (n = 46) who took part in the survey.
The results of the study show that the single-item measure of religious identity and the score of the Centrality of Religiosity Scale correlates within the area of values of benevolence, whereas the measure of religious fundamentalism was related to values of tradition and conformity. The single-item measure of spiritual identity and the scale of religious reflexivity was related to values of universalism. The single item measure of religious syncretism was related to values of self-direction. Finally, the scale of atheism locates in the value segment of achievement values.
Concerning our first study with the scales of the S-R-T (Gennerich and Huber 2006) we obtained rather similar results with one exception. In the data from the 2006 study, religious pluralism was related to self-direction whereas it is related to values of benevolence in this study. Only the item of religious syncretism is still related to values of self-direction. Therefore, the perspective of pluralism has become an attitude of people with a mainline religious identity.
The value patterns give some hints regarding the interpretation of the different forms of religiosity. Conservative religiosity or religious fundamentalism is related to the need for security. This confirms Hood and Morris’ (1985) interpretation, that fundamentalism is concerned with boundary maintenance and the internal stabilization of the religious system based on the principle of intratextuality (Hood et al. 2005). Alternative worldviews are excluded this way. One’s tradition as a shared reality seems to be objective and thus more reliable for fundamentalist persons (cf. Hardin and Higgins 1996). The link between religious reflexivity and universalism can be explained with boundary transgressions. Religious reflexivity challenges existing religious beliefs, and thus opens one up for other perspectives and dialogue. Therefore, our scales of religious reflexivity and syncretism could represent the principle of the intertextuality of non-fundamentalist religiosity, because the two attitudes could promote a way of interpretation, in which each text fundamentally deepens the understanding of others.
Similar to the study by Cohrs et al. (2005) right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) and social dominance orientation (SDO) plot in the value segments of security and power. The differentiation between these two measurements is supported by the results found by Gennerich (2018, p. 265). He found that values of security are negatively correlated with tolerance of complexity (according to Radant and Dalbert 2007) as a counter-pole to RWA, whereas the preference for violence legitimizing norms of masculinity (according to Enzmann and Wetzels 2003, a similar construct to SDO) correlated with values of power. The political position (right vs. left) correlates with values of security and power to an equal degree and locates between RWA and SDO in the value circle. However, using a left-right positioning with five categories and a plot of the factor scores of the value dimensions for the five groups the left-right continuum shows a curvilinear relationship with values because extreme right (and extreme left) persons are critical in respect to mainline social conventions, therefore, showing both a considerable degree of openness to change (Gennerich 2018, p. 267). Spirituality, religious reflexivity and syncretism plot in opposition to these three political orientations. Finally, the more conservative forms of religion plot in an orthogonal way in the value field in relation to the three political orientations.
A further question regards the relation of emotions toward God with the two value dimensions and the diverse scales of religiosity in Figure 2. In reference to the study by Gennerich (2013a) with an adolescent churchgoer sample, the correlation pattern is slightly different. On the one hand, gratitude, awe and security plot in the value segment of benevolence, similar to the emotion and value relation in the churchgoer sample. On the other hand, other emotions show a moved position. Anger is plotted in the segment of power values in our study whereas it is posited in the segment of hedonism in the study by Gennerich (2013a). The difference may be explained by the samples. Pepper et al. (2010, p. 141) showed a similar phenomenon in comparing a general public sample with a churchgoer sample regarding the relation of concepts of God and values. The concept of a “distant God” mainly correlated with the value hedonism in the general public sample and with the value of power in the churchgoer sample. Therefore, the structure of the sample can influence the correlation pattern. In our sample, the emotion of anger toward God seems to express a rather egocentric attitude toward God which is also expressed by the social dominance orientation, whereas anger toward God is used in the sample of adolescents to express one’s distance toward the belief in God. In the sample of the adolescent churchgoers, anxiety to God is plotted close to anger toward God and seems to merely express distance and a negative emotion toward God. In contrast, anxiety toward God is plotted in the segment of security values in our sample and expresses a general feeling of insecurity which is also expressed in the preference for security values in our sample. Furthermore, in our study the emotion of guilt toward God is plotted in the value segment of tradition whereas it is plotted in the segment of power and in the middle of the field in the adolescent sample. In the adolescent sample, it may also be interpreted as an expression of guilt because of self-distancing from one’s own religion. In our sample of adults, guilt toward God may be a result of conformity, i.e., being oriented to follow socially shared rules.
Comparing Figure 2 and Figure 3 the results can be explained as follows: gratitude, security, awe and freed from guilt are positive emotions toward God. As seen in Table 2, these emotions show high correlations with the Centrality of Religiosity Scale (gratitude r = 0.84, security r = 0.84, awe r = 0.72, freed from guilt r = 0.71). Their closeness to centrality of religiosity in the value circle is mirrored by these high correlations. However, religious pluralism also locates close to these positive emotions toward God in the value circle. Nonetheless, the direct correlation with freed from guilt shows a negative correlation (−0.16): it seems to be difficult to experience God’s forgiveness without some degree of commitment toward God or without a previous emotion of guilt toward God (cf. Table 2: the emotions “guilt” and “freed from guilt” show the same pattern of correlation). However, religious pluralism is most positively correlated with “gratitude” (r = 0.11). This aligns with Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions (cf. Fredrickson 2004). Gratitude enables flexible and creative thinking while making organizational members more flexible, empathic, creative, as well as, making them feel better when interacting with others (Fredrickson 2004, pp. 153, 159). Therefore, emotions of gratitude toward God may also promote more tolerant attitudes toward others and their belief systems.
The emotion of guilt toward God may be explained as motivation for or cause of a strict or fundamentalist interpretation of religion (r = 0.57 with religious fundamentalism). In a study by Nelissen et al. (2007) guilt in general, does not correlate with values which indicates that in each segment of the value field emotions of guilt are possible. Anxiety toward God as a feeling of insecurity may lead to a preference of security values and Right-Wing Authoritarianism (r = 0.32 with RWA and r = 0.33 with religious fundamentalism). Nelissen et al. (2007) also report a similar correlation of the frequency of experience of fear and security values. Regarding Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build theory these results can be explained in more detail. RWA correlates most strongly with anxiety (r = 0.32) and guilt toward God (r = 0.34). Negative emotions like anxiety and guilt narrow a person’s thinking and attitudes (Fredrickson 2004, p. 146). This explains why RWA locates in the values segment of security values, which are correlated with xenophobic attitudes and the interpretation of complexity as a burden (Gennerich 2018, p. 265). Religious fundamentalism is also highly correlated with anxiety (r = 0.33) and guilt (r = 0.57). However, religious fundamentalism is simultaneously highly correlated with positive emotions toward God (security r = 0.60, gratitude r = 0.55, awe r = 0.58 and freed from guilt r = 0.65). The narrowing effects of the negative emotions toward God are counterbalanced this way. The broaden and build effect of positive emotions toward God leads to a clear differentiation of religious fundamentalism and RWA on the self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement dimension.
In the study by Nelissen et al. (2007), the frequency of experience of anger shows a clear correlation with power values similar to our study. The experience of anger toward God may be explained by a general disposition of persons with a preference for values of power to interpret their experience in a way that generates anger. In contrast to the results found by Exline and Martin (2005) anger toward God is not significantly correlated with atheism (r = 0.05) in our study, instead, it shows its highest correlation with religious reflexivity (r = 0.20). This may indicate that it is necessary to experience a relationship with God in order to experience emotions toward God. Obviously, in this case, it is not atheism (located closer to anger toward God) but religious reflexivity (located with greater distance to anger toward God) with the higher correlation with the item anger toward God. In sum, the relations of emotions toward God with values are rather complex and need to be disentangled in further research.

5. Conclusions

In congruence with other studies about the multidimensional relationship between values and religiosity, this study gives evidence that religion can promote a broad range of values, i.e., from self-direction and universalism and benevolence to tradition and security and power. Which values are promoted by religiosity depends on the type of involvement in religion. Conservative religious interpretations are related to security and tradition values and the reflexive and liberal interpretations to universalism and self-direction. Persons, who assess themselves as religious in a more general way and for whom religion is a central dimension of their personality seem to balance dialogical openness and system stabilization. Thus, these persons share benevolent values, near the middle of values of tradition and values of universalism.
However, our correlational data is open for both directions of interpretation. Religious orientations may promote related values or the other way round: Values can be interpreted as abstract and integrated indicators of life experiences or situational contexts of a person (Gennerich 2013b, 2020). Therefore, people prefer different interpretations of God, faith, or hope because depending on the experienced situation different religious concepts are more or less suitable for the process of sensemaking (cf. Gennerich 2013b, 2020). For example, God as an ultimate mystery may unleash many possibilities in the life of resourceful persons whereas God as a forceful authority giving guidance fosters a high degree of self-control to deal with poor life situations better. In this practical perspective, our results have severe consequences for religious education (RE). Traditional theological interpretations that emphasize trust and gratitude toward God do not fit equally well for all students (Gennerich 2013b, pp. 221–22). Therefore, plural religious interpretations should be introduced in the RE classroom to avoid exclusion processes. Based on our results such processes can be predicted: people preferring values of stimulation, hedonism, and achievement experience more conflict in their families (Gennerich 2010, p. 63). In contrast to those who mainly experience emotions of gratitude and security toward God they have fewer opportunities to express their experiences in the RE classroom. However, the emotional orientations represented in the lament psalms (e.g., anger toward God), for example, are more easily adapted by this group. In conclusion, our results can be interpreted as a market model to predict processes of religious sensemaking and to reflect on possible interventions in the context of RE or therapy.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, C.G.; methodology, C.G.; statistical analysis, C.G. and S.H.; investigation, S.H.; resources, S.H.; data curation, S.H.; writing—original draft preparation, C.G.; writing—review and editing, C.G. and S.H.; supervision, S.H.; project administration, S.H.; funding acquisition, S.H. Both authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

Funding

This research was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF), project number 100017_1535278).

Data Availability Statement

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the co-author upon reasonable request.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Appendix A. The Applied Scales

  • Political position: “In politics people talk of left and right. How would you describe your own political stance? Where do you come on the line between left and right?” Answers: Scale from 0 = left to 100 = right.
  • Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA): (1) “Crimes should be punished more severely”; (2) “In order to maintain law and order tougher action should be taken against outsiders and troublemakers”; (3) “To be law-abiding and having respect for superiors count among the main characteristics that a person should possess”; (4) ”We should be grateful for leaders who tell us what we should do”; (5) “In order to assert myself I sometimes have to resort to violence”; (6) “In order to restore law and order the state should not hesitate to use force.” Answers: agree completely, slightly, not really, not at all.
  • Social Dominance Orientation (SDO): (1) “Social equality should increase”; (2) “It’s OK if some groups have more of a chance in life than others”; (3) “We would have fewer problems if we treated people more equally”; (4) “We should do our utmost in order to make conditions equal for different groups,” (5) “It is probably a good thing that certain groups are at the top and other groups are at the bottom”; (6) “Some people are simply worth more than others” (Scale from 0 = totally agree to 100 = totally disagree, items 3 and 4 recoded in the opposite direction).
  • Centrality of Religiosity Scale (CRSi-7): (1) Public practice: “How frequently do you take part in religious services?” Answers: never, less frequent, a few times a year, about once to three times a month at least once a week, daily, several times a day (the last two categories were recoded into one category); (2) Intellect: “How often do you think about religious questions?” Answers: never, rarely, occasionally, often, very often; (3) Ideology: “To what extent do you believe in God or something divine?” Answers: not at all, a little, medium, fairly, very much; (4) Private practice: maximum value in prayer or meditation practice (maximum value of two items): “How frequently do you pray apart from at church or within a religious community?” Answers: never, less frequent, a few times a year, about once to three times a month at least once a week, daily, several times a day (the last two categories were recoded into one category), and frequency of meditation: “How often do you meditate?” Answers: never, less frequent, a few times a year, about once to three times a month at least once a week, daily, several times a day (the last two categories were recoded into one category); (5) Experience (maximum value in experiencing gods/divines presence): “How often do you experience situations where you have the feeling that you are at one?” Answers: Never, rarely, occasionally, often, very often; “How often do you experience situations where you have the feeling that God or something divine intervenes in your life?” Answers: Never, rarely, occasionally, often, very often.
  • Religious Fundamentalism: (1) “I try to convert as many people as possible to my religion”; (2) “I am ready to make great sacrifices for my religion”; (3) “I am convinced that for questions on religion my own religion is correct and others are wrong”; (4) “I am convinced that only members of my religion will attain salvation”; (5) “In my religious beliefs, it is important to be vigilant against evil”; (6) “In my religious beliefs, it is important that I decide to fight evil.” Answers: agree completely, slightly, not really, not at all.
  • Atheism: (1) “I would describe myself as an Atheist”; (2) “I am convinced that there is no higher or divine power” (3) “I am convinced that religion is harmful”; Answers: agree completely, slightly, not really, not at all. (4) “Do you find it disturbing or not when people wear obvious religious symbols in a public place (e.g., on the street, squares or in public buildings)?”; (5) “Do you find it disturbing or not when religious symbols or religious messages are displayed in public?” Answers: disturbing, rather disturbing, rather not disturbing, not disturbing.
  • Religious Pluralism: (1) “For me every religion has a core of truth” (2) “I believe that one should have an open mind to all religions.” Answers: agree completely, slightly, not really, not at all.
  • Religious Syncretism: “I refer back to the teachings of different religious traditions.” Answers: agree completely, slightly, not really, not at all.
  • Religious Reflexivity: (1) “How often do you rethink certain aspects of your religious views?” (2) “How often are you critical towards religious teachings you in principle agree with?” Answers: never, rarely, occasionally, often, very often; (3) “How important is it for you to consider religious issues from different perspectives?” Answers: not at all, a little, medium, fairly, very much;
  • Religious Identity: All in all: How religious would you describe yourself? Answers: not at all, a little, medium, fairly, very much
  • Spiritual Identity: Regardless of whether you consider yourself to be a religious person or not: how spiritual would you describe yourself? Answers: not at all, a little, medium, fairly, very much
  • Emotions toward God: How often do experience the following emotions towards God or the Devine? (1) Security; (2) Gratitude; (3) Awe; (4) Anger; (5) Fear; (6) Guilt; (7) Deliverance from guilt. Answers (for each of the seven emotion separately): Never, rarely, occasionally, often, very often.
  • Values: Please read each description and think about to what extent you are or are not similar to the description. (1) Thinking up new ideas and being creative is important to him/her. (2) He/She wants to be rich, have a lot of money and expensive things. (3) She/He avoids anything dangerous and prefers a secure surrounding. (4) For her/him it is important to have a good time and treat herself/himself. (5) It is important to him/her to help the people around him/her and to care for their well-being. (6) He/She wants to be very successful and for people to recognise her/his achievements. (7) She/He loves taking risks, seeks adventure and wants to lead an exciting life. (8) It is important to her/him always to behave properly and avoid doing anything people would say is wrong. (9) Looking after nature and the environment is important to her/him. (10) It is important to her/him to continue traditions that she learnt from her family or religion. Answers: very similar, similar, slightly similar, less similar, not similar, not similar at all.

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Figure 1. Value circle measured with 10 items from the PVQ21 selected by the WVS and theoretical segmentation of the field based on Schwartz (1992); plot of the Varimax-rotated component loadings in our sample.
Figure 1. Value circle measured with 10 items from the PVQ21 selected by the WVS and theoretical segmentation of the field based on Schwartz (1992); plot of the Varimax-rotated component loadings in our sample.
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Figure 2. Correlation plot of the religiosity scales with the two dimensions of the value circle.
Figure 2. Correlation plot of the religiosity scales with the two dimensions of the value circle.
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Figure 3. Correlation plot of emotions toward God with the two dimensions of the value circle.
Figure 3. Correlation plot of emotions toward God with the two dimensions of the value circle.
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Table 1. Alpha coefficients and correlations of the applied scales with self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement and conservation vs. openness to change (n = 824 to 1029).
Table 1. Alpha coefficients and correlations of the applied scales with self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement and conservation vs. openness to change (n = 824 to 1029).
Self-TranscendenceConservation
Scales Alpha CoefficientsCorrelations Correlations
Centrality of Religiosity0.870.26 **0.07 *
Religious Orientations:
  Religious IdentitySingle item0.22 **0.12 **
  Spiritual IdentitySingle item0.17 **−0.06
  Atheism0.79−0.25 **−0.11 **
  Rel. Pluralism0.760.10 **0.04
  Rel. SyncretismSingle item0.01−0.07 *
  Rel. Fundamentalism0.880.09 **0.13 **
  Rel. Reflexivity0.750.14 **−0.10 **
Emotions Toward God:
  SecuritySingle item0.22 **0.12 **
  GratitudeSingle item0.24 **0.12 **
  AweSingle item0.18 **0.07 *
  AngerSingle item−0.14 **0.02
  AnxietySingle item−0.060.21 **
  GuiltSingle item0.060.19 **
  Freed from GuiltSingle item0.16 **0.08 *
Political Orientations:
  Right (vs. left)Single item−0.16 **0.18 **
  RWA0.78−0.17 **0.25 **
  SDO0.79−0.28 **0.10 **
** p < 0.01; * p < 0.05.
Table 2. Correlations of centrality of religiosity and the religious and political orientations with the emotions toward God (n = 824 to 1025).
Table 2. Correlations of centrality of religiosity and the religious and political orientations with the emotions toward God (n = 824 to 1025).
Emotions Toward God
SecurityGratitudeAweAngerAnxietyGuiltFreed from Guilt
Centrality of Religiosity0.84 **0.84 **0.72 **0.16 **0.25 **0.53 **0.71 **
Religious Identity0.75 **0.75 **0.66 **0.12 **0.22 **0.50 **0.65 **
Spiritual Identity0.44 **0.45 **0.45 **0.12 **0.10 **0.27 **0.40 **
Atheism−0.57 **−0.62 **−0.48 **0.05−0.08 *−0.29 **−0.41 **
Rel. Pluralism0.030.11 **−0.010.050.04−0.06 *−0.16 **
Rel. Syncretism0.000.040.010.13 **0.12 **0.00−0.11 **
Rel. Fundamentalism0.60 **0.55 **0.58 **0.12 **0.33 **0.57 **0.65 **
Rel. Reflexivity0.45 **0.45 **0.41 **0.20 **0.13 **0.28 **0.38 **
RWA0.23 **0.16 **0.26 **0.16 **0.32 **0.34 **0.24 **
SDO0.06−0.020.07 *0.07 *0.09 **0.13 **0.08 *
Right (vs. left)0.19 **0.13 **0.19 **0.030.10 **0.22 **0.22 **
** p < 0.01; * p < 0.05.
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