Amazing Conversions: Why Some Turn to Faith & Others Abandon Religion

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Prometheus Books, 1997 - Religion - 268 pages
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This groundbreaking study uncovers fascinating new data on sudden shifts in religious and nonreligious belief. Amazing Conversions explores, for the first time ever, the reasons why converts join, and apostates go. The focus of this absorbing study is on some amazing people, with unique stories to tell those who join a religious group in spite of being raised in nonreligious (or even antireligious) families, and those who, at great personal cost, choose to leave religion in spite of having a deeply religious background. Why would an atheist's son become a Christian fundamentalist? Why would a "good Catholic girl" decide that she really is an atheist?

The authors of Amazing Conversions, both social psychologists, surveyed thousands of young adults to find that small number who were "amazing believers" or "amazing apostates." These rare individuals tell their stories, which are supplemented by their responses to a detailed questionnaire. The resulting picture shows that amazing believers and amazing apostates are dramatically different groups of people, in spite of the fact that their lives now stand in opposition to previous (non)religious training. You, too, can complete the same questionnaire to learn more about yourself and your beliefs. Have you experienced an amazing conversion?

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Normal People
Interviews with the Amazing Apostates

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About the author (1997)

Bob Altemeyer (Winnipeg, Canada) is associate professor of psychology at the University of Manitoba and the recipient of the Prize in Behavioral Science Research from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Bruce E. Hunsberger (1946-2003) was professor of psychology at Wilfred Laurier University and the winner of the William James Award from the American Psychological Association for outstanding research in religion.

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