This article examines the relationship between correctional attitudes and religion.
Although research typically has failed to establish a relationship between religious affiliation and correctional attitudes, recent assessments have revealed that fundamentalist Christians tend to be more punitive than are nonfundamentalists. Using a statewide survey, this study demonstrates that compassionate as well as fundamentalist aspects of religious beliefs are related to public correctional preferences. Further, religion influences support for rehabilitation as well as punitiveness. However, limitations to this study include a need for better measures of the included concepts and for better measures of religion. The study measured only one aspect of compassionate religious beliefs: forgiveness. Future research should consider love, salvation, hope, caring, and tolerance. In addition, the geographic boundaries of the observed relationships within the United States require further investigation. The article concludes that the compassionate side of religion--the belief in forgiveness--can help shape how Americans think about crime. Notes, tables, references, appendix