Conceptualizing Sacredness and the Divine: Comparing Adherents of Dharmic and Abrahamic Religions in the U.S. and India

[Speaker] Crane, Lauren S:1
[Co-author] Bano, Shabana:2
1:Wittenberg University (United States of America), 2:Banaras Hindu University (India)

In the United States and India, we distributed a questionnaire addressing the nature of Divinity, sacredness, humankind, and death. The American sample included 175 adults (mostly Christians and Buddhists), with data collected at worship centers (n = 90), on-line (n = 64), and by post (n = 21). The Indian sample included 93 university students (mostly Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists), with all data collected in a classroom setting. In 2 (country) x 2 (type of religion) factorial ANOVAs, adherents of Dharmic religions (i.e., Buddhism and Hinduism) were found to emphasize the spiritual integration of humans, nature, and Divinity; adherents of Abrahamic religions (i.e., Christians and Muslims) tended to emphasize distinction-oriented themes involving a Supreme Being. Overall, contrasts between Abrahamic versus Dharmic religions were stronger than cross-national contrasts, despite notable differences in the nature of the U.S. versus Indian samples. Implications for the meaning of "culture" will be discussed.
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