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Religion in America: Putnam & Campbell In America, religion is highly fluid. (Sociology 156)

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Presentation on theme: "Religion in America: Putnam & Campbell In America, religion is highly fluid. (Sociology 156)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Religion in America: Putnam & Campbell In America, religion is highly fluid. (Sociology 156)

2 A Shifting Religious Landscape In 1960, Kennedys Catholicism was attractive to the vast majority of Catholics, but suspicious to many Protestants. – Despite the fact that he difference from the official position of the Church on many issues In 2004, Kerry split the Catholic vote with Bush. In 1960, religious affiliation functioned as a tribal marker, but by 2004, intensity of religiosity had become more important of a dividing line than which denomination [a candidate] belonged to. (2) What happened? 2

3 Three seismic social shocks The era of the 1960s – Religious and sexual landscape radically altered Aftershock 1: Growth of conservative religion – As theological and political conservatism began to converge, religiously inflected issues emerged on the national political agenda, and religion became increasingly associated with the Republican Party. Aftershock 2: Rejection of religion – A growing number of Americans, especially young people, have come to disavow religion. For many, their aversion to religion is rooted in unease with the association between religion and conservative politics. (3) 3

4 How can religious pluralism coexist with religious polarization? In America, religion is highly fluid. The conditions producing that fluidity are a signal feature of the nations constitutional infrastructure. – Religions compete, adapt, and evolve as individual Americans freely move from one congregation to another, and even from one religion to another. This state of flux has actually contributed to religious polarization [...] People gradually, but continually, sort themselves into like-minded clusterstheir commonality defined not only by religion, but also by the social and political beliefs that go along with their religion. (4-5) 4

5 Pluralism & Polarization The malleable nature of American religion, however, means that these clusters are not bunkers. – Americans work, fall in love, socialize, live etc. with people of different religious backgrounds In doing so, they have come to accept people with a religious background different from theirs. It is difficult to demonize the religion, or lack of religion, of people you know and, especially, of those you love. (5-6) 5

6 Data The Faith Matters Surveys – 2006: 3,108 randomly selected, nationally representative Americans – 2007: followup with 1,909 of the original respondents (10) – Statistical regression shows that gender, age, race/ethnicity, size of community and region all have independent correlations with religiosity Income level does not (28) Text not solely reliant on Faith Matters Survey Convergent validation: The data are loudest when they speak in harmony. (11) Three Bs of religiosity – Belonging, behaving, believing (7) 6

7 Religious Traditions Legal, social and political environment in the US has led to a huge number of splinter groups – Example: Lutheranism Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Missouri Synod Lutherans, Wisconsin Synod Lutherans, etc. (11) 7

8 Taxonomic System Protestants – Evangelical, Mainline, Black Catholics, Jews, Mormons – Small groups, but high levels of self-identification – Know who they are (15) Other – Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, & other – 3-4% total, too small to reliably analyze None – Identify with nothing in particular 8

9 Evangelical Protestantism Begins in early 18 th century – In search of a true religion of the heart Modern evangelical Christians are intellectual descendents of fundamentalists – late 19 th, early 20 th century – Biblical literalism & inerrancy – Disengage from society after 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial Reengage after WWII – Billy Graham Theologically conservative, often politically conservative – Focus on personal piety Currently a plurality of American Christians – Grow through 1970s & 80s, declining membership since ~90 (16) May or may not self-identify as evangelical – Often self-identity simply as Christian, or nondenominational (12-14) 9

10 Mainline Protestantism Formerly dominant form of religiosity in US, declining since 1950s Emphasis on Social Gospel – Tend to be more liberal than evangelicals The Bible is treated as a book with deep truths that have to be discerned amidst myth & archaic stories Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Congregationalist – Many of these denominations may also have evangelical wings or congregations (14) 10

11 Black Protestantism Defined by race Legacy of racial segregation – The church was the first, and for a long time the only, institution permitted to be run by and for African Americans Theologically conservative – However, emphasize both personal piety & Social Gospel Distinctive theology, iconography, & style of worship (15) 11

12 No religion/the Nones Identify with nothing in particular Not limited to atheists & agnostics In 2006 FMS, only 5 out of 3,108 identified as one of these Third largest category of Americans – 17% vs. 14% Mainline Protestants – Currently growing (16-17) 12

13 What does it mean to be religious? Example survey questions – How frequently do you attend religious services? – How frequently do you pray outside religious services? – How important is religion in your daily life? – How important is religion to your sense of who you are? – Are you a strong believer in your religion? – How strong is your belief in God? Religiosity index does not rely on inclusion or exclusion of any one particular item. Excluding one does not change results. Includes only items that could apply to all religious traditions (18- 20) 13

14 Congregationalization Even faiths that are not organized around the congregation in other nations come to adopt a congregation-based structure here in the United States. From there, it is a small step to adopting many of the same practices as American, especially Protestant, congregations. – Sunday school, social hall for community events – Clerics as counselors, public relations – Example: Mosques A response to the Protestant legacy and to the incentives and institutions affecting religion in the US Ecosystem; market (30-31) 14

15 Episcopal Churches Samples from Boston area – Seen as Stiff in liturgy and seems more formal; stuffy – Canonical, Bible-based theology, combined with reason & experience – Disproportionately educated parishioners (40) Weak sense of community – Parishioner: It just doesnt do a lot of fellowshipping. (41) – Rev. Buquor: If your understanding of church is that its there to offer interesting things and a variety of self-help offerings, thats great, [but church should] lead people to the cross, to be self-giving and sacrificial. (44) – Parishioner: Trinitys worship is not appealing [to many people] because its more disciplined, not charismatic, and it doesnt have that good feeling stuff. (40) – Priest: I didnt get into this to become an events coordinator. (45) Declining membership (43) – Some parishes adopt more market-oriented behaviors (45) Strong internal division over orthodoxy & direction of the church (52-54) 15

16 Saddleback Church Orange County Megachurch: average weekly attendance of 22,000 Seeker-sensitive – In an attempt to meet the varying tastes of its members, Saddleback offers different styles of worship in different venues. – At the conclusion of the message, Jesus is held up as a model for time management, and Pastor Rick implores those who have not yet accepted Christ to offer a prayer in their heart: Be the CEO of my life, Jesus. – Congregant: Pastor Rick really emphasizes the relationship with God [rather than] religion, [which is] just all about rules. – Congregant: Saddleback is very therapeutic. Every week I pick up a pearl that I can use as a self-improvement tool. A church of small groups – Pastor Rick Warren: You find your meaning in community. A culture of transformation – Congregants speak of the transformative effect they feel [Saddleback] has had on their lives. (54-69) 16

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