Religious disaffiliation is a growing trend in the United States, with estimates of between 15% through 20% of Americans identifying that they have no religion and this rate is growing by roughly 1% each year. Nearly all research concerning religious disaffiliation has focused on the individuals who leave their faith, but little research has empirically explored how church members themselves react to the religious disaffiliation of individuals from their own religious community, as well as what factors potentially contribute to the formation of their attitudes and attributions towards religious disaffiliates. This study utilizes a Seventh-day Adventist sample’s reactions to a former Seventh-day Adventist pastor who disaffiliated and identified as an atheist. Before an understanding of the developmental mechanisms of these negative behaviors can take place, it is imperative to be able to identify and study the characteristics of the attitudes and attributions that drive these behaviors and the mechanisms that support them. Religious orientation has been studied extensively as a potential mechanism that shapes religious beliefs and drives religious behavior. The current study created a multi-item scale to identify negative attributions towards religious disaffiliates and explored its relationship to two empirically-established scales regarding religious orientation: Altemeyer and Hunsberger’s (2004) religious fundamentalism scale, and Batson and Schoenrade’s (1991b) religious quest scale. This study found a strong, positive association between negative attributions towards religious disaffiliates and religious fundamentalism, and a moderate negative association between negative attributions towards religious disaffiliates and a religious quest orientation. Although there is more work to be done, the current study proposes a scale for further research use and empirical validation.

LLU Discipline

Clinical Psychology


Clinical Psychology


School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Boyd, Kendal C.

Second Advisor

Boyd, Jana K.

Third Advisor

Vermeersch, David A.

Fourth Advisor

Yi, Zane

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Psychology; Religious; Mental Health - Religious aspects; Church membership

Subject - Local

Religious disaffiliation; Religious orientation; Batson and Schoenrade's religious quest scale; Altemeyer and Hunsberger's religious fundamentalism scale;



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives