Banging while Believing: The Intersection of Religiosity, Gang Membership, and Violence


Lauger, Timothy R & Rivera, Craig J (2022). Banging while Believing: The Intersection of Religiosity, Gang Membership, and Violence. Social Problems.


Religious groups and street gangs typically exhibit contrasting cultural systems that produce different behavioral consequences, especially relating to crime and violence. This study introduces and develops the isolated and integrated affiliation models to explain the potential intersection of gang membership and religious affiliation. The isolated affiliation model predicts that gang membership and personal religiosity are incompatible affiliations and will not overlap. The integrated affiliation model predicts that individuals can simultaneously embrace and negotiate gang and religious affiliations even when they seem opposed to each other. Using Add Health data, this study examines the intersection between religiosity, youth gang membership, and violence. Findings indicate that gang members do report being religious, although they are significantly less religious than non-gang peers on three of the four individual measures of religiosity, with a marginally significant difference on the overall religiosity scale. Among the full sample, religiosity is inversely associated with violence while gang membership is positively associated with violence. Among a gang-only subsample, personal religiosity is inversely related to the prevalence but not the extent of violence. These findings provide insight into potential role and identity conflicts experienced by religious youth gang members. Seemingly oppositional affiliations can overlap with religious life, influencing some forms of behavior.




Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Social Problems


Lauger, Timothy R
Rivera, Craig J

Year Published




Reference ID