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The Churching of America, 1776-2005: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy [NOOK Book]

Overview


In this provocative book, Roger Finke and Rodney Stark challenge popular perceptions about American religion. They view the religious environment as a free market economy, where churches compete for souls. The story they tell is one of gains for upstart sects and losses for mainline denominations.

Although many Americans assume that religious participation has declined in America, Finke and Stark present a different picture. In 1776, fewer ...
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The Churching of America, 1776-2005: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy

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Overview


In this provocative book, Roger Finke and Rodney Stark challenge popular perceptions about American religion. They view the religious environment as a free market economy, where churches compete for souls. The story they tell is one of gains for upstart sects and losses for mainline denominations.

Although many Americans assume that religious participation has declined in America, Finke and Stark present a different picture. In 1776, fewer than 1 in 5 Americans were active in church affairs. Today, church membership includes about 6 out of 10 people.

But, as Finke and Stark show, not all denominations benefited. They explain how and why the early nineteenth-century churches began their descent, while two newcomer sects, the Baptists and the Methodists, gained ground. They also analyze why the Methodists then began a long, downward slide, why the Baptists continued to succeed, how the Catholic Church met the competition of ardent Protestant missionaries, and why the Catholic commitment has declined since Vatican II. The authors also explain why ecumenical movements always fail

In short, Americans are not abandoning religion; they have been moving away from established denominations. A "church-sect process" is always under way, Finke and Stark argue, as successful churches lose their organizational vigor and are replaced by less worldly groups.

Some observers assert that the rise in churching rates indicates increased participation, not increased belief. Finke and Stark challenge this as well. They find that those groups that have gained the greatest numbers have demanded that their followers accept traditional doctrines and otherworldliness. They argue that religious organizations can thrive only when they comfort souls and demand sacrifice. When theology becomes too logical, or too secular, it loses people.

 

 

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813541136
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 3/3/2005
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Revised and Expanded
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 653,577
  • File size: 6 MB

Table of Contents

1 A new approach to American religious history 1
2 The Colonial era revisited 25
3 The upstart sects win America, 1776-1850 55
4 The coming of the Catholics, 1850-1926 117
5 Methodists transformed, Baptists triumphant 156
6 Why unification efforts fail 197
7 Why "mainline" denominations decline 235
Appendix : profile tables, 1776 and 1850 285
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