Review of Religious Research

, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 319–338

Is Evil Good for Religion? The Link between Supernatural Evil and Religious Commitment

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s13644-012-0094-x

Cite this article as:
Martinez, B.C. Rev Relig Res (2013) 55: 319. doi:10.1007/s13644-012-0094-x


“The devil made me do it” is a familiar cliché often used to justify a bad decision. However, are beliefs in a devil or other evil supernatural beings actually beneficial for religion? Building upon Stark and Bainbridge (1987) and elements of the supernatural punishment hypothesis, this study proposes and tests the hypothesis that a positive relationship exists between the belief in supernatural evil and religious commitment. Data from 2007 Baylor Religion Survey reveal a strong positive correlation between the belief in supernatural evil and four measures of religious commitment: church attendance, religious perception, tithing, and faith sharing. This study not only contributes to a long discussion of religious commitment, but it also has implications for the growing literature on god images and the supernatural punishment hypothesis.


Evil Religious commitment Belief Supernatural 

Copyright information

© Religious Research Association, Inc. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyBaylor UniversityWacoUSA

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