About the Book

What is a religion? Why are people religious? Are religious people more educated than nonreligious people? Are religious people more moral? Are they humbler or happier? Are religious people more or less prejudiced than nonreligious people? Are religious people better at coping with death? Is religion good for your health? Are people becoming more or less religious? Based on what you hear from the media—and on what religions themselves purport to teach—you may think you know the answers, but think again.

    Studying religion as a social phenomenon, heralded sociologist Ryan T. Cragun follows the scientific data to answer these and other fascinating questions about the nature and state of religion (and nonreligion) across populations. He presents his findings in this groundbreaking book, What You Don’t Know about Religion (but should). No matter your beliefs, the data he presents will challenge all—from religious fundamentalists to the New Atheists—and change how you view religion, both in your life and in society at large.

     At times irreverent, but always engaging and illuminating, this book is for all those who have ever wondered whether religion helps or hurts society—or questioned what the future holds for religion. As Cragun argues, our increasingly complex globalized multiethnic world presents a series of challenges that demand a reasoned response. Our world needs tolerance. It needs technology. It needs science. It needs education. It needs respect for the environment. It needs gender equality. It needs good parents. And, as the data presented in this book make plain, it also needs a new way of thinking about religion.

About the Author

Ryan T. Cragun is an assistant professor
of sociology at the University of Tampa. His research interests include Mormonism and the nonreligious. He is the author of more than a dozen peer-reviewed articles and half a dozen book chapters. His research is regularly featured in national media.


ISBN: 978-0985281533 (hardcover)

SRP: $24.95

Page count: 278 pages

Trim size: 6 x 9

Pub date: June 2013

Ebook availability: Yes

Audiobook availability: forthcoming

“An extremely lively, engaging, and enjoyable book. Cragun masterfully weaves together personal anecdotes, international current events, sociological data, relevant social issues, and theoretical insights in presenting a sober, clear, and at times quite passionate introduction to how social scientists understand and approach religion. This highly readable, conversational, and yet soundly argued book is strongly, enthusiastically recommended.”

—Phil Zuckerman, Professor of Sociology at Pitzer College

and author of Faith No More and Society Without God


“Ryan Cragun has given us a witty, concise, trenchant yet many-faceted summary of the phenomena of religion in contemporary society. It might have been titled Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Religion, But Didn’t Know Who to Ask. As this book makes clear, Ryan Cragun is who to ask.”

Tom Flynn, Editor, Free Inquiry

“A long-overdue counterweight to books designed around religious boosterism, Cragun’s What You Don’t Know about Religion (but should) is an empirically based examination of religion that extensively catalogues what has been previously overlooked. In following this evidence to its logical conclusion, Cragun goes where many others have feared to tread: religion’s dark side. Plainly stated, personal, and conversational in tone, without jargon or overly complex language, this book mixes poignant anecdotes with social science findings across many domains, including ethics, education, social behavior, family life, gender and racial attitudes, and more. Overall, this book is a hard-hitting but fact-based and often humorous take on religion and irreligion.”

—Luke Galen, Associate Professor of Psychology at Grand Valley State University and coauthor of Being Secular

Advance Praise