CHURCH HISTORY & Statistics for each of the largest denominations. #ARDA #AssociationOfReligiousDataArchives

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: If you are coaching churches (or just connecting with leaders of a different denomination) it’s helpful to have one place where you can get reliable statistics on their number of churches, their growth or decline, etc. The American Religious Data Archives (ARDA) is the place scholars go for that data. Here is a link to their webpage which includes up-to-date statistical data on all of the major Christian denominations: http://www.thearda.com/landing/index.asp

DENOMINATIONAL WEB PAGES

The ARDA has integrated all of its information about each of the largest denominations and religious groups in the United States into one webpage.

African Methodist Episcopal Church

American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.

Assemblies of God

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Christian Churches and Churches of Christ

Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee)

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Church of the Nazarene

Churches of Christ

Episcopal Church

Evangelical Free Church of America

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS)

National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc.

Orthodox Presbyterian Church

Presbyterian Church in America

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Roman Catholic Church

Seventh-day Adventist Church

Southern Baptist Convention

United Church of Christ

United Methodist Church

Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church

SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION & How an understanding that God is a loving Father (not an angry tyrant) led to Jonathan Edwards’ conversion. #ARDA #WesleyToo

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Those who have read my devotional on the life of John, Charles and Susanna Wesley (www.Enthusiast.life) know that a key to their conversions was when they came to the understanding that God was a “loving father” not as a angry master. The same understanding transformed the famed American preacher Jonathan Edwards as pointed out in this article by the ARDA (Association of Religious Data Archives).

… While still at Yale, Edwards had a conversion experience and became convinced of the opposite, that God’s sovereignty “very often appeared exceedingly pleasant, bright and sweet.” Edwards had become convinced of the Calvinist view of God and humanity. Human beings were fallen, totally depraved, and deserving of an eternity of punishment in hell. God graciously plucked some, the elect, from that fiery fate. Edwards’s view of God transformed from that of a capricious, uncaring tyrant into a loving, gracious father.

Edwards inherited his grandfather’s church at Northampton, Massachusetts in 1729 and the young minister quickly became involved in a series of local revivals in New England during the 1730s. He believed that many New England Puritans were Christian in name only, that they had been infected by an “Arminian” theology that privileged free, human choice over God’s sovereignty. Rationalists, whom Edwards classed as “Arminians,” proposed a theology derived from reason and nature. They also argued that individuals were fundamentally moral beings with the ability to choose their faith, a belief that cut against the traditional Calvinist doctrine of human depravity. 

By 1738, when celebrity English evangelist George Whitefield conducted his first preaching tour in the American colonies, those local revivals had grown into the mass religious movement that would later become known as the First Great Awakening. Whitefield, Edwards, and other preachers like Gilbert Tennent criticized American churches for their cold theological rationalism while proclaiming a revivified Calvinist gospel. It was in this environment that Edwards preached “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” while filling the pulpit in Enfield, Connecticut on July 8, 1741. Edwards wanted to convince the parishioners that their religious faith was dead, that they were sinners, and thus they faced the righteous judgment of God should they not repent and turn from their false religious security.

Read more at … http://www.thearda.com/timeline/events/event_232.asp

CHURCH HISTORY & Here are “Denominational Family Trees” – visual depictions of the history & relationships of most denominations. Created by the #ARDA, American Religious Data Archives.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. With a plethora of different denominations today, it’s sometimes hard to grasp how they relate to one another. People within a denomination can usually cite their denominational history with ease. But they often don’t know the family tree of other denominations.

Therefore, it can be helpful to have a visual depiction of various denominations’ family trees.

The American Religious Data Archives has created helpful “family trees” for most denominations. Below is the Methodist family tree. You will find more denominational family trees at this link: http://thearda.com/denoms/families/trees/

The Methodist-Pietist family consists of churches that stress the importance of internal faith, spirituality and Christian living over adherence to formal creeds and doctrine. The largest among these churches is the United Methodist Church, which follows the teachings of John Wesley, who in the 18th century broke away from the Church of England because of his emphasis on personal holiness. Other Methodist churches include the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.

ATTENDANCE FREQUENCY & In 1972, nearly one third (32.8%) of Christians attended church 1+ times a week. In 2018, this dropped in half to 16.8%. #ARDAresearch

By Ryan Burge, American Religious Data Archives, 3/30/20.

Sometimes a simple graph tells the story.

In 1972, nearly one third of the American population (32.8%) were white Christians who attended church nearly once a week or more.

In 2018, their share of the population had dropped in half to 16.8%.

Tweeted by ARDA, The American Religious Data Archive. https://twitter.com/ryanburge/status/1244727413659045888?s=21

PARENTING & Bending without breaking: What new research is saying about effective religious parenting strategies = balance + faith. #ARDA

by David Briggs, The Association of Religious Data Archives, 3/12/19.

“…Religious firmness integrated with religious flexibility is more likely to result in a balanced, healthy style of religious parenting,” concluded scholars analyzing more than 8,000 pages of in-depth interviews with 198 Christian, Jewish and Muslim couples from 17 states.

A great deal of research has shown parents’ faith can have a positive impact on their children in areas from mental health to developing healthy relationships to being less likely to smoke, take illegal drugs or abuse alcohol.

Some examples from the new research include:

Secrets and lies: Researchers analyzing data from the second wave of the National Study of Youth and Religion found that adolescents who attend religious services more often are less likely to keep secrets from parents. Further, youth who believe that religion is important are both less likely to lie to parents and keep secrets from parents. Key reasons: More religious adolescents were less likely to use alcohol, to have peers who use drugs or drink heavily and to have lower standards of morality – all factors in the likelihood of lying and keeping secrets.

Sex, faith and college students: A study of undergrads at a large public university in the mid-Atlantic suggested that students from families that were likely to pray and talk about their faith together were less likely to have had sex. Greater parental oversight was associated with a decreased likelihood of ever having unprotected sex. And students who were more religious had a lower likelihood of engaging in any sexual activity, and a higher likelihood of condom use when they did. 

Daddy’s home: A study analyzing data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study found evidence suggesting that taking paternity leave, and longer periods of leave, is linked to more frequent father involvement and lower parental conflict among fathers who attend religious services frequently. Fathers who take leave and attend religious services weekly engage with their child about one-half day per week more frequently than fathers who do not take leave.

But not all the outcomes are positive.

Read more at … http://blogs.thearda.com/trend/uncategorized/bending-without-breaking-what-new-research-is-saying-about-effective-religious-parenting-strategies/

UNAFFILIATED & Research shows younger Christians have moved from being evangelical to being “unaffiliated.”

America’s Changing Religious Landscape, podcast with Robert P. Jones (18 February 2019), interviewed by Benjamin P. Marcus.

…Atheists and agnostics actually only make up only a minority of that category of a quarter of the US population. And the rest of them are kind of a mixed bag. When we’ve looked underneath the hood, there’s kind of two other groups in there. There’s one group that looks . . . that we’ve just broadly labelled “secular” in some of our reporting, that looks broadly like a cross-section of the country. But there’s another group in there that we’ve actually dubbed “unattached believers”. And that group looks, on many measures of religiosity – like, “How often do you pray?”, “How often do you attend religious services?”, “Do you believe in God?”, those kind of questions – they look like religious Americans, even though they refuse the category and won’t identify with any particular religious group. That group tends to be less white, more African American or Latino. And they tend to be younger. And so it’s a very interesting group. I think, as a whole, this group has moved so fast now that it is a very diverse group. I mean, after all, it’s a quarter of Americans, so that is a big, big group that we’re talking about, now...

So if we go back ten years ago, I think that was more true than it is today. But it is true that young evangelicals have moved. But what they have moved from is from being evangelical to be unaffiliated. So they’ve actually exited the category over time. And we can see that a couple of ways in the data. For example, among young people today, only eight percent identify as white evangelical Protestant, right? And again that’s compared to about fifteen percent in the population. So young people are only half as likely to identify as evangelical as Americans overall. And when we look underneath the hood, and we look at the median age, for example, of white evangelicals over time, we see it creeping up. And the main reason for that is that, as they’ve lost members, they’re disproportionately losing members from their younger ranks. So what’s happening is, yes indeed, the young evangelicals of ten years ago have moved. But they’ve not moved over to be Democrats – or they might have – but they’ve mostly moved out of the whole category. They’ve stopped identifying as evangelical. And I think that’s the real shift. So if you’re looking for those people who were young evangelicals a decade ago, you should look for them in the unaffiliated category and not in the evangelical category. And what we’re seeing is that, among the young people who have stayed, the generational differences are now kind-of muted. Because the people who have stayed are actually people who hold views that are fairly consistent with older evangelicals. But the ones who had views, for example, that were in great tension – like on gay rights – have largely left the fold.

Audio and transcript available at: Jones_-_America_s_Changing__Religious_Landscape_1

Read/hear more at … https://www.religiousstudiesproject.com/podcast/americas-changing-religious-landscape/

CHURCH HISTORY & ARDA creates helpful and graphic-based online timeline of Race/Ethnicity & Religion in No. America

Commentary by Prof. B.: It is easy to be put off by the complex and intertwined history of diversity in America. Recognizing this, the Association for Religion Data Archives (ARDA) has created an online and interactive “timeline” here: http://www.thearda.com/timeline/tlTheme1.asp (screen shot below).

Easy to navigate, quick to read with reliable research, this should be your first stop to understand and explain the complex history of diversity in the No. American Church.

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YOUTH GROUP & Study finds youth group participation can reduce bullying

by David Briggs, The Association of Religious Data Archives, 8/9/17.

A powerful resource for reducing bullying and helping victims heal may be right in your local church, temple or mosque.

The congregational youth group.

A new wave of international scholarship addressing public concerns over bullying is extending into religious communities.

Researchers are discovering that congregations are uniquely positioned to offer the type of social support and the promotion of values such as empathy, forgiveness and love of neighbor that appear to be effective ways of addressing the issue.

Here are five ways research suggests faith can play an important role in reducing bullying…

Read more at … http://blogs.thearda.com/trend/featured/global-studies-reveal-5-ways-faith-can-reduce-bullying-empower-victims/

MENTAL HEALTH & Research Finds Positive/Negative Impact From Belief in Screwtape’s Associates

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Here is research published in the The Association of Religious Data Archives, which confirms CS Lewis quote, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and un- healthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight” (C.S. Lewis. The Screwtape Letters, HarperSanFrancisco, ©1942, Harper edition 2001, p. ix.)

Demonic Influences: Beware the devil you know by David Briggs, The Association of Religious Data Archives, 1/10/17.

“Belief in supernatural evil has been shown to be linked to positive outcomes such as increasing religious resources and promoting greater cooperation and less selfish behavior.

But too great a focus on beliefs in the power of malevolent beings to do harm may increase stress and anxiety in a world increasingly seen as a dark and dangerous place, other research suggests.

One takeaway, especially for religious counselors and mental health professionals: “Pay attention to the dark side of belief systems,” noted Fanhao Nie, lead researcher in the Purdue study.”

… Belief in the existence of powerful supernatural evil beings was one of the strongest predictors of poor mental health in young adults, according to a new study by Purdue University researchers.

Read more here… http://blogs.thearda.com/trend/uncategorized/demonic-influences-beware-the-devil-you-know/

THEORIES & On Theorizing About Religion #ARDA #PennStateUniv

On theorizing about religion:

by ARDA, Association of Religion Data Archives, Penn. State University.

Social scientists observe that the world of religion consists of regularities and anomalies, seeking explanations for both. A theorist suggests a set of ideas to explain one aspect of religious behavior, hopefully in terms of a few clear statements using words that can be defined unambiguously. Ideally, it will be possible to derive logical consequences of the ideas that can be stated as formal hypotheses. The concepts in a hypothesis must be operationalized in terms of specific measures for which data can be collected in an empirical study. Consider this example of a theoretical argument:

1. Religion compensates people psychologically for deprivations they suffer in life.
2. Some people are relatively deprived in terms of wealth and status.
3. Relatively deprived people will gravitate to religious groups that compensate them for their deprivations.
4. The religions of relatively deprived people need to provide more compensation than do the religions of people who are not relatively deprived.
5. The religions of relatively deprived people must provide compensatory social status.
6. Therefore, the religions to which relatively deprived people belong will tend to:

a. Be more emotionally intense than other religious groups.
b. Assert that special honor comes from the mere act of belonging to the particular religious group.
c. Have social relations that are somewhat encapsulated from the wider society.

Of course this argument could be stated in much greater detail. But, given that it is familiar in the social science of religion, consider what is needed to test it. Key terms must be defined operationally, for example so that questionnaire items can be written or selected to represent them in an empirical study:

1. Relative deprivation could be operationally defined as individuals below medium income, or individuals who respond to attitude questions as being relatively powerless or lacking respect in society.
2. Compensatory social status could be measured through questionnaire items about religious exclusivity such as feeling that only members of one’s own groups are saved, or describing their group with terms like “the chosen people,” or rejecting some status-related values of the wider society such as saying that the rich are corrupt.
3. Emotional intensity might be operationalized in terms of specific behaviors, such as expressions of joy during religious services, or subjectively in terms of whether a respondent rates their religious experiences as intense versus peaceful.
4. Social encapsulation can be measured by what proportion of a person’s five best friends belong to his or her own congregation.

THEORIES & How Theories, Concepts, & Measures Relate to Each Other #ARDA

Theories, Concepts & Measures

by ARDA, Association of Religion Data Archives

Social scientists observe that the world of religion consists of regularities and anomalies, seeking explanations for both. A theorist suggests a set of ideas to explain one aspect of religious behavior, hopefully in terms of a few clear statements using words that can be defined unambiguously. Ideally, it will be possible to derive logical consequences of the ideas that can be stated as formal hypotheses. The concepts in a hypothesis must be operationalized in terms of specific measures for which data can be collected in an empirical study. This will be a collegial effort, enlisting the cooperation of researchers, universities, journal editors, institutes and associations of scholars to increase the impact and awareness of important findings in religion research.

A general introduction to the philosophy of this project is:

The site has four categories of articles:


bbc_chart.jpg

We hope this site will provide users with many resources in conducting research or writing scholarly articles, policy briefs, or general information for public consumption. Here are a few of the many uses:

1) Enhance your citations and knowledge of the literature: Our pages include citations which refer users to major works which utilize the theory, concept or measure in question.
2) Improve your measurement of concepts: Explore the variables researchers commonly utilize in measuring complex concepts.
3) Draw links between theoretical orientations: Explore how many concepts and measures are shared across theoretical orientations.
4) Move seamlessly from theory to research: This site allows users to trace theoretical hypotheses to specific quantitative indicators and back again. Along the way citations to key research help to further clarify this process.

Read more at … http://wiki.thearda.com/tcm/frontpage/about/

CONVERSION & A Sociological Definition Compiled by ARDA: The Association of Religious Data Archives #PennStateUniv

bpc_icon_concept.jpg Conversion

Definition:

“Conversion refers to shifts across religious traditions” (Stark and Finke 2000:114). This would include changing from Judaism to Christianity or Hinduism to Islam. Religious reaffiliation, changing from one style of a specific religion to another, is commonly confused with conversion. An example of reaffiliation would be changing from Southern Baptist to Methodist within Christianity or from Sunni to Shiite within Islam.

Studies focusing on the growth of cults did the most to shed light on the nature of conversion and the way individuals change their religious beliefs. The popular belief before the studies of Lofland and Stark (1965) and Barker (1984) was that individuals joining religious cults were brainwashed by leaders. These studies disproved this conception of conversion showing that initiates into new religious groups converted due to changes in their social networks. Those who converted did so because they came to a point where they knew more people in the cult or religious group than individuals not a part of the group. It was only until after conversion took place that the actual beliefs of the group were cited as reasons for the conversion.

Some common ways of measuring the concept of conversion is to ask individuals if they have ever experienced what they would describe as a conversion experience. Another avenue for exploring conversion is to compare a respondent’s parent’s religious affiliation with the respondent’s current religious affiliation or stated religious identity. This method assumes that as a child the respondent shared her parent’s religious views. A third possible measure of conversion is religious intermarriage. Over time researchers might find that a spouse converts, not just reaffiliates, to their spouse’s religion.

Citations:

a.) Barker, Eileen. 1984. The Making of a Moonie: Choice or Brainwashing? Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers
b.) Lofland, John, and Rodney Stark. 1965. “Becoming a World-Saver: A Theory of Conversion to a Deviant Perspective.” American Sociological Review 30: 862-875.
c.) Stark, R. and R. Finke. 2000. Acts of Faith: Explaining the Human Side of Religion. Berkeley: University of California Press.
d.) Stark, Rodney, and William Sims Bainbridge. 1980. “Networks of Faith: Interpersonal Bonds and Recruitment to Cults and Sects,” American Journal of Sociology 85: 1376-1395.

Related Measures
The following are possible measures of Conversion that can be created using data from theARDA.com

arrow.jpg Conversion Experience
Description:
Respondent identifies with undergoing a religious conversion experience of some kind.

Q13A: Variable 28 from Baylor Religion Survey, 2005 midline_dotted.jpg

arrow.jpg Parent’s Religious Affiliation
Description:
Asks respondents what religious tradition their parent’s ascribe to. Allows researchers to investigate why individuals maintain or change from the religious tradition they were exposed to when younger.

Q31A: Variable 121 from Baylor Religion Survey, 2005 Q31B: Variable 122 from Baylor Religion Survey, 2005 MARELIG: Variable 403 from General Social Survey, 1988 PARELIG: Variable 408 from General Social Survey, 1988 MOMS RELIG: Variable 637 from General Social Survey, 1998 POPS RELIG: Variable 639 from General Social Survey, 1998 PRELIGN: Variable 797 from National Study of Youth and Religion, Wave 1 (2003)

 

THEORIES & Religious Research Theories Listed & Defined by ARDA: Association of Religious Data Archives

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: The ARDA is the best place to find a compilation of theories and research on the church compiled by scholars. It is compiled by my colleague Roger Finke and his colleagues Penn. State University.

Religious Research Theories

Learn about other theories of religion:
arrow.jpgChurch/Sect Cycle
arrow.jpgCivilization Theory
arrow.jpgCognitive Theories
arrow.jpgConversion Theory
arrow.jpgCyclical Theory
arrow.jpgDemographic Transition Theory
arrow.jpgFunctionalism
arrow.jpgModernization Theory
arrow.jpgRational Choice/Religious Economies
arrow.jpgSecularization
arrow.jpgSocial Network Theory
arrow.jpgSub-Cultural Identity Theory of Persistence and Strength

Theories bpc_icon_theory.jpg

In the social sciences generally, as well as in the social science of religion, the term theory is actually used in a multitude of applications. In a sense, every specific theory embodies a somewhat different idea of what theory means, so it is not surprising that this word tends to confuse people. For example, fully 93 articles in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy have “theory” in their titles, yet they approach it from almost as many different directions.

Citing the work of Rodney Stark and William Bainbridge, we offer the following general definition of a theory:

A theory is a set of statements, or hypotheses, about relationships among a set of abstract concepts. These statements say how and why the concepts are interrelated. Furthermore, these statements must give rise to implications that potentially are falsifiable empirically.

Citations:

a) Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge, A Theory of Religion (New York: Toronto/Lang, 1987), p. 13.

Read more at … http://wiki.thearda.com/tcm/theories

MEMBERSHIP & The Strict Church Theory: Why Strict Churches Grow Faster #LaurenceIannaccone #PennStateUniv

bpc_icon_theory.jpg Strict Church Theory

Definition:

Strict churches are stronger because they reduce free riding, or the ability of members to belong yet not contribute to the group. The theory predicts that strict churches will tend to retain members and foster ongoing commitment while lenient churches will tend to lose members and exhibit very low levels of commitment. This theory builds off of rational choice assumptions and is compatible with the religious economies perspective.

Citations:

Iannaccone, Laurence. 1994. “Why Strict Churches are Strong.” The American Journal of Sociology. 99(5): 1180-1211.

Kelley, Dean. (1972) 1986. Why Conservative Churches are Growing.Macon, GA: Mercer University Press.

by The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA),

Department of Sociology
The Pennsylvania State University
211 Oswald Tower
University Park, PA 16802-6207

Read more at … http://www.thearda.com/rrh/bestpracticescenter/theories/theory14.asp

More Theories

Learn about other theories of religion:
arrow.jpgChurch/Sect Cycle
arrow.jpgCivilization Theory
arrow.jpgCognitive Theories
arrow.jpgConversion Theory
arrow.jpgCyclical Theory
arrow.jpgDemographic Transition Theory
arrow.jpgFunctionalism
arrow.jpgModernization Theory
arrow.jpgRational Choice/Religious Economies
arrow.jpgSecularization
arrow.jpgSocial Network Theory
arrow.jpgSub-Cultural Identity Theory of Persistence and Strength

DIVERSITY & Church Friendships

The ties that may not bind race, religion and marriage
by Association of Religious Data Archives

“‘Segregated churches breed segregated lives,’ said Perry, according to Briggs. However, he also found that those who pray and read the Bible more often were more likely to date outside of their race. (Perry’s findings will appear in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.)”

“Churches are still one of the least likely places white, black, Asian and Hispanic Americans will encounter one another.

Pew’s 2007 American Religious Landscape Survey found non-Hispanic whites made up more than 9 in 10 members of mainline Protestant churches and more than 8 in 10 members of evangelical Protestant churches, while more than 9 in 10 members of historically black churches were non-Hispanic blacks. Nearly 3 in 10 Catholics were Hispanic, compared with just 3 percent of mainline Protestants…

Those who attended multiracial churches, however, were more likely to have dated a person of another race, Perry reported at the recent annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.”

http://blogs.thearda.com/trend/featured/the-ties-that-may-not-bind-race-religion-and-marriage/