Joseph O. Baker


Research Interests: Religion; secularism; ideology; deviance and social control; public views of science; paranormalism; penology and law; social theory

In addition to teaching at ETSU, I work for the Association of Religion Data Archives.  For the thrilling minutiae of my credentialing history and varied efforts at ritual impressiveness, see my curriculum vitae

My recent research examines the social and cultural aspects of secularity in the U.S.     






Listen to a discussion about American Secularism on the NPR program Progressive Spirit.
Read an interview in Sacred Matters about the the book.

Reviews of American Secularism:

Amid the growing social science literature on the nonreligious, it serves as an excellent introduction to American secularism while adding more careful, multimethod analysis than is found in other works with more dramatic titles about atheists and apostates. It should appeal to a broad audience.
-American Journal of Sociology

American Secularism offers an innovative framework for the study of both nonreligion and religion that will be an indispensable resource for both scholars of nonreligion as well as scholars of culture and religion who want to better understand this new historical moment and its implications. 
-Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

On the whole, American Secularism is a very welcomed book that neatly summarizes
the survey data on the nonreligious and offers a powerful theory to explore the main types of this large and increasingly growing segment of our population.
-Sociology of Religion

The book features a series of case examples, historical exemplars that allow the authors to balance the data-heavy portions of the book with historical narratives.  Highly recommended.
-Choice Reviews 


Journal articles:  Contact me if you would like full text versions of any articles. 

Public Views of Science
Public Perceptions of Incompatibility between "Science and Religion."   Public Understanding of Science 21(3):340-354

Acceptance of Evolution and Support for Teaching Creationism in Public Schools
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 52(1):216-228.

Homosexuality, Religion, and Science: Moral Authority and the Persistence of Negative Attitudes.  Sociological Inquiry 82(4):487-509.

Acceptance of Evolution Among American Mormons Journal of Contemporary Religion 33(1): 123-134.

Political Sociology
Make American Christian Again: Christian Nationalism and Voting for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election.  Sociology of Religion.

Economy "Versus" Environment: The Influence of Economic Ideology and Political Identity on Perceived Threat of Eco-Catastrophe.The Sociological Quarterly 55(2):341-65.

Theism, Secularim, and Sex Education in the United States.  Sexuality Research and Social Policy 12(3):236-247.

American Secularism(s)
The Nones: Social Characteristics of the Religiously Unaffiliated. Social Forces 87(3):1251-1264. 

None Too Simple: Examining Issues of Religious Nonbelief and Nonbelonging in the United StatesJournal for the Scientific Study of Religion 48(4):719-733. 

Perceptions of Science and American Secularism. Sociological Perspectives 55(1):167-188.


Atheism, Agnosticism, and IrreligionEmerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences.


Gendering (Non)Religion: Politics, Education, and Gender Gaps in Secularity in the United StatesSocial Forces 94(4):1623-1645.



Patterns of Religious Practice, Belief, and Experience
An Investigation of the Sociological Patterns of Prayer Frequency and Content.
Sociology of Religion 69(2):165-185. 

What Would Jesus Buy? American Consumption of Religious and Spiritual Material GoodsJournal for the Scientific Study of Religion 46(4):501-518. 

Angelic Belief as American Folk Religion. Sociological Forum 26(3):623-643. 

Who Believes in Religious Evil?  An Investigation of Sociological Patterns of Belief in Satan, Hell, and DemonsReview of Religious Research 50(2):206-220. 

The Variety of Religious Experiences. Review of Religious Research 51(1):39-54.


Dynamics of Religious Groups and Communities
Whose Moral Community?  Religiosity, Secularity, and Self-rated Health across Communal Religious Contexts.  Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

Social Sources of the Spirit: Connecting Rational Choice and Interactive Ritual Theories in the Study of Religion Sociology of Religion 71(4):432-456.

Structural and Cultural Sources of Community in American Congregations. Social Science Research 45:1-17.

Christian Sectarianism, Fundamentalism, and Extremism.  Pp. 187–198 in Routledge Handbook of Deviance, edited by Stephen Brown and Ophir Sefiha.  New York: Routledge.

Deviance, Penology, and Social Control
Desecration, Moral Boundaries, and the Movement of Law: The Case of Westboro Baptist Church.  Deviant Behavior 36(1):42-67.

The Expression of Low Self-Control as Problematic Drinking in Adolescents: An Integrated Control PerspectiveJournal of Criminal Justice 38(3):237-244. 

Hell to Pay: Religion and Punitive Ideology among the American PublicPunishment & Society 18(2):151-176.


"Paranormal" Beliefs and Subcultures
A Bounded Affinity Theory of Religion and the Paranormal.  Sociology of Religion 77(4):334-358.

A Social Anthropology of Ghosts in Twenty-First-Century AmericaSocial Compass 61(4):569-593.

Diverse Supernatural Portfolios: Certitude, Exclusivity, and the Curvilinear Relationship between Religiosity and Paranormal BeliefJournal for the Scientific Study of Religion 49(3):413-424.  Appendix

Countervailing Forces: Religiosity the Paranormal Belief in Italy. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 51(4):705-720.


Paranormal America