empirically the relationship between religiosity and delinquent behavior among youth in a
Muslim community in Turkey.
Beginning with the classical theorists, sociological approaches to this inverse relation have
emphasized various functions of religion, such as social control and deterrent effects (Durkheim,
1951; Weber & Marx, 1958). Several criminological studies have found that religiosity has a
significant negative impact on deviant behaviors, particularly ascetic behaviors such as substance
abuse (Bends & Corwyn, 1997; Brownfield & Sorenson, 1991; Cochran & Akers, 1989; Johnson
et al., 1997). Considering and overcoming the methodological limitations in early studies, the
majority of more recent studies have found the expected inverse relationship between religiosity
and delinquency (Abu-Rayya et al., 2016; Johnson et al., 2000, 2001; Unlu & Sahin, 2015).
Furthermore, recent meta-analyses also indicate that a negative relationship exists between religi-
osity and involvement in delinquent behavior (Baier & Wright, 2001; Kelly et al., 2015). Focusing
on the study variables and the relationships among them, the current study aimed to investigate the
possible effect of religious factors on delinquency rather than an exercise in theoretical comparison,
which is consistent with the risk factors approach to criminological theorizing (Bernard & Snipes,
1996). Bernard and Snipes (1996) suggest that the focus of attention should be the variables
themselves and the relations among them, not the contradiction between theories.
The findings of previous studies have suggested that religiosity is a protective factor with regard
to potential delinquent behaviors. However, some researchers have focused on a single aspect of
religiosity, such as belief or religious self-practice (Klein et al., 2006; Sekulic et al., 2009). Sekulic
et al. (2009) conceptualized religiosity as a single-dimension construct (religious practice–church
attendance) and found religiousness to be a significant protective factor in cigarette smoking, sport
nutritional supplementation, and the likelihood of doping. Conceptualizing religiosity as a multi-
dimensional construct, this study examined the influence o f religiosity on delinquent beh avior
The major significance of the present study is that it examined the relationship between religi-
osity and delinquency in a sample of Muslim youth. To date, little has been reported in the scientific
literature on this topic in a specifically Muslim context (Abu-Rayya et al., 2016; O
Roberts et al., 2011). It should be noted that the great majority of individuals in the sample popula-
tions of previous studies were Christian, which may limit the generaliza bility of these studies’
findings. A recent empirical study on the association between religiosity and youth deviance found
that higher levels of Islamic religiosity were associated with low er levels of deviant behaviors
among Australian Muslim youth (Abu-Rayya et al., 2016). However, the study was conducte d
within the context of a narrow Muslim community rather than a Muslim country. The present study
addresses this empirical gap.
Another significance of the study is that it analyzed the relationship between religiosity and
delinquency based on a large-scale dataset (n¼31,272). In addition, employing the exogenous
variable of religiosity as a multidimensional construct, the pre sent study sought to identify the
relative importance of various dimensions of religiosity with regard to delinquency among youth.
Mainly, examining the dimension of religious social involvement that has been rarely examined
within the context of delinquency in previous studies is another possible significant contribution of
the study in the field.
Religion—an organized set of beliefs, practices, and rituals engaging the transcendent—proposes a
doctrine about the afterlife and provides rules that guide behavior during the present life to prepare
for the future (Koenig & Shohaib, 2014). Almost all religious traditions encourage law-abiding
behaviors, teach respect for government authorities, and discourage violating social norms.
362 Criminal Justice Review 46(3)