Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Philip Brenner

Second Advisor

Evan Stewart

Third Advisor

Jan Mutchler, Cinzia Solari


Situated in the context of increased religious disaffiliation, demographic changes in the household, and a global pandemic, this dissertation evaluates how, where, and with whom Americans practice religion. The American Time Use Survey (ATUS) is underutilized by the sociology of religion community, but especially equipped to assess these changes because it records instances of non-service related religious practice and indicators of where and with whom it occurred. Moreover, because the survey asks respondents about religious engagement indirectly, it circumvents overreporting biases associated with the expression of religious identity. Using these detailed indicators provided in the ATUS, I find that Americans decreasingly attend church services with household family. Beyond worship services, I find that houses of worship are centers for other, non-service related practices. Yet, like dwindling service attendance, so too are Americans decreasingly engaging with church-based non-service related practice, opting instead to increasingly engage in the practice at home. To evaluate whether engagement with non-service practices is overreported, I combine the ATUS with conventional survey data and impute the indirect measures of religious practice into the conventional survey using random forest imputation. Although I find evidence of overreporting, I find the efficacy of the imputation procedure questionable because it failed to produce the expected correlations between time diary and conventional measures of religious engagement, inconsistent with existing scholarship. I find that while Americans rarely practice religion online, they increasingly did so at the onset of the recent pandemic. Just as Protestants and older individuals are most likely to express religiosity, I find evidence that they are also most likely to practice religion online. Due to the lack of involvement with online services from religious disaffiliates and younger individuals, as well as the lack of prosocial benefits associated with in-person services, I conclude that the online format is a poor medium for religious engagement. With an emphasis that religious activities occur in the periods adjacent to traditional practices, I discuss the implications for these findings and offer theoretical and methodological recommendations for future scholarship on religious engagement.


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