The “Zeal of the Convert”: Is It the Real Deal?

The “Zeal of the Convert”: Is It the Real Deal?
By: Allison Pond and Greg Smith
Source: Pew Research Center

A common perception about individuals who switch religions is that they are very fervent about their new faith. A new analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life provides quantitative support for this piece of conventional wisdom often referred to as the “zeal of the convert.”

The analysis finds that people who have switched faiths (or joined a faith after being raised unaffiliated with a religion) are indeed slightly more religious than those who have remained in their childhood faith, as measured by the importance of religion in their lives, the frequency with which they attend religious services and other measures of religious commitment.

However, the analysis also finds that the differences in religious commitment between converts and nonconverts are generally very small and are more apparent among some religious groups than among others.

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