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

Front Cover
Rutgers University Press, 2005 - Religion - 347 pages
2 Reviews
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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Review: The Churching of America, 1776-1990: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy

User Review  - Jorden - Goodreads

What part did religion play in the founding of our nation? This book is an in-depth look to the nation's religious history. A very interesting read: the cycle and nature of religion from an economic perspective. Read full review

Review: The Churching of America, 1776-1990: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy

User Review  - Stephen - Goodreads

READ MAY 2010 Well written depiction of religion in the nineteenth and twentieth century using the Methodist, Catholic, and Baptist as a case study to show the sect-church theory. Best quote ... Read full review

Contents

Page from 1926 Census of Religious Bodies Showing
14
The Colonial Era Revisited
25
Pilgrims Going to Church
26
Early Settlers on Their Way to Church and The Call
34
Henry Muhlenberg 17111787 Preaching in a Barn in 1742
40
George Whitefield 17141770
48
The Upstart Sects Win America 17761850
55
Lyman Beecher 17751863
58
A Methodist Circuit Rider
85
Charles Grandison Finney 17921875 and His Second Wife
91
Camp Meeting Layouts
97
Family Worship at a Plantation in South Carolina 04
104
The Coming of the Catholics 18501926 7
117
Methodists Transformed Baptists Triumphant
156
Why Unification Efforts Fail 97
199
Why Mainline Denominations Decline
235

Peter Cartwright 17851872
65
A Stately Seminary of the Colonial Mainline
78

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References to this book

Dellwing, Religion
Michael Dellwing
No preview available - 2007
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