01: The November/December issue of Society magazine carries a special section on the charismatic and Pentecostal movement.
The lead article by Todd M. Johnson provides an interesting statistical overview of the growth of the various Pentecostal streams in the global South and North, revealing how classical Pentecostals, charismatic renewalists (those within mainstream and Catholic churches) and independent neo-charismatics have been received diﬀerently in various societies. Johnson ﬁnds that renewalists continue to grow fastest in Latin America, Africa and Asia, and have stalled in Europe and the U.S.
The neo-charismatics are the most strongly based in the global South, especially in India, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Another article by Arun Jones on Pentecostalism in India notes that these churches are functioning like mainline Protestants as the la er have slipped in missionary and social ministries and the former have taken up starting schools, orphanages and hospitals. The strong supernatural thrust of Pentecostal and charismatic churches even draws practicing Hindus to their services; at the same time, these churches unoﬃcially draw on the mystical Hindu sensibility.
An article on Russia and Ukraine suggests some conﬂict between the more moderate and subdued Pentecostals—who have a long history in both countries—and the ﬂamboyant and emotional charismatic newcomers who hold to prosperity teachings and performing miracles. The contested thesis that these new Protestants are fostering a strong work ethic and economic productivity has some substantiation, although the ﬁndings are still preliminary, write authors Christopher Marsh and Artyom Tonoyan.
The article notes that Russian and Ukrainian Pentecostals are also becoming a missionary force in their own right, especially in China. A concluding article by Brian Grim ﬁnds that the relation between charismatic and Pentecostal churches and the restrictions they may face in various countries is also related to the type of movement to which they belong. While the charismatic and Pentecostals seem to grow most in societies with religious freedom, the neo-charismatics can grow in religiously restrictive societies (such as China) as long as there is not a single religion monopolizing the market.
For more information on this issue, write: Society, 233 Spring St. New York 10013
02: The annual review of the Yugoslav Society for the Scientiﬁc Study of Religion (year XVI) is devoted to the issue of the revitalization of religion, revealing that the complex religious situation of the former Yugoslavia makes it diﬃcult to use terms such as “secularization” or “revival.”
The volume, edited by Danijela Gavrilovic, is divided between general theories related to religious revitalization and chapters applying such theory to speciﬁc traditions and regions of the Balkans. In an early chapter, Ivan Cvitkovic writes that while there has been a “return of religion” to the public sphere in Bosnia and Herzogovina, it is inaccurate to speak of a return of citizens to religious faith, as “there has been no ‘departure’ after all.”
In other words, there was a fairly similar rate of aﬃliation and religious involvement before the ethnic conﬂict and war in the region. In a chapter on religion in the Balkan region, the authors argue there has been a growth in both “apparent believers” and “apparent atheists,” meaning those who identify with but do not necessarily hold the beliefs or lack of beliefs of either category. There has been a “drop in numbers of those who practice things in which they believe.” In Serbia, for instance, 72.5 percent never a end the Orthodox liturgy, although more identify with home-based rituals and traditions.
The same article ﬁnds that Islam has the largest number of adherents who believe that their religion is the only true one, while Protestants have the highest rate of belief that their religion is only one among many valid ones. Another interesting ﬁnding is that those with the harshest images of God rarely go to church or mosque, while those with more benign images of God tend to be frequent a enders.
Other articles in this issue include an in-depth analysis of Serb religiosity (which the author characterizes as “traditional belonging without believing”); an overview of new religious movements, folk rituals and pilgrimage sites in the region; and a unique study by sociologists who started their own religion (the Church of the Holy Silence) in order to test and monitor the legal constraints put on new religious movements in Slovenia.
For more information on this issue, email the editor at: danig@ﬁlfak.ni.ac.rs
03: As its title makes clear, Deconversion: Qualitative and Quantitative Results from Cross-Cultural Research in Germany and the United States of America (Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht; for more information, visit: http://www.v-r.de/de/titel/ 1001004018/) examines the long-neglected topic of deconversion, or religious disaﬃliation.
The researchers, led by Hein Streib, Ralph Hood and Barbara Keller, ﬁnd that the most general and valid characteristics at the level of individual personality and identity with respect to deconverts from both countries were openness to experience (considered the most relevant factor associated with deconversion); lower scores on fundamentalism and authoritarian scales; self-identiﬁcation as being more spiritual than religious; and, while actively religious, profession of faith of a more critical than conformist nature.
This portrait of the deconvert aligns with previous research on the subject and also overlaps with research on secularists. For example, “Proﬁles of the Godless,” a recent article by Luke W. Galen, which looks at the results of a survey of the non-religious, cites openness to new experience and lower levels of agreeableness as two characteristics that may serve to distinguish believers from non-believers. Diﬀerences between deconverts in the U.S. and Germany emerged most starkly around the issue of crisis. In the German sample, especially among those in oppositional groups, as opposed to those leaving more integrated groups, the researchers found that disaﬃliation was quantitatively associated with a loss or crisis in respect to self-identity, social relationships, and a sense of overall meaning and purpose in life.
In general, the U.S. deconverts tended to feel less tension between themselves and the larger society after disaﬃliation and felt a greater sense of personal development and autonomy when compared to the German sample. The researchers, although warning against giving too much causal weight to the larger religious environment, say that this may be due to the open religious pluralism of the U.S., where deconverts “can be conﬁdent that the church next door welcomes religious disaﬃliates from other traditions—which may promise to advance their personal growth.” Statistical diﬀerences withstanding, after further qualitative investigation, the authors conclude that, overall, gains tend to outweigh losses, stating that most of those experiencing crisis were able to ﬁnd therapeutic support and not only recover, but experience personal growth.
In these cases, the authors suggest that the crisis should be considered more of a “turning point.” Finally, one of the more novel ﬁndings of the study is that many deconverts, far from dropping out of the religious ﬁeld altogether, seek more personal spiritual experiences outside of formal religions and the conﬁnes of organizational structures. In this respect, more research may be needed to ﬁrmly determine what other factors send those open to new experience down the similar, but ultimately diﬀerent paths of spirituality and secularity (in the strong sense). This book contributes a great deal to such discussion.
— Reviewed by Christopher Smith, a New York-based writer and researcher
04: Quiverfull (Beacon Press, $25.95) is a journalistic investigation of the “biblical womanhood” movement that is seeking to revive “Christian patriarchy.”
Author Kathryn Joyce oﬀers a vivid portrait of this radical pro-natalist counterculture of the evangelical movement—from agrarian homeschoolers with huge families who dub their cause “quiverfull” to the networks of activists decrying the “demographic winter” (the dearth of births in the West) and the Calvinist pastors calling for women’s subservience and male headship. The book, unlike many treatments of the Christian right, does a good job in analyzing the Calvinist and thus strongly theological element to much of this pro-family activism, even if it notes its new diversity, embracing conservative Catholics, Mormons, Lutherans and charismatics, as well as schismatic conservative independent groups sympathetic to Christian reconstructionism.
An especially interesting chapter is the proﬁle of Doug Phillips (son of conservative activist Howard Phillips) and his Vision Forum, which attempts to model Christian masculinity and femininity through church practices (shunning for disobedient members), and traditional courtship traditions (including reviving dowries) and modest dress, as well as marketing gender-speciﬁc toys and literature. Another chapter looks at the emergence of natalist activists, combining unorthodox social science and conservative critiques, such as Allan Carlson and the World Congress of Families (and bringing together European Catholic traditionalists and American evangelicals and Mormons).
While these groups are fascinating in their own right (demanding more scholarly study), Joyce clearly sees the movement as a threat to women’s freedom. Her accounts of the many women reporting (mainly psychological) abuse from their involvement in this counterculture and of Quiverfull families living near the poverty level are poignant. But the author’s fears of the movement’s dangers and its inﬂuence among evangelicals seem exaggerated: she acknowledges that the counterculture embraces a few thousand. Only those on the evangelical right (such as Albert Mohler of Southern Baptist Seminary and popular preacher and author John Piper) show much sympathy for its more radical measures.
05: Jewish Intermarriage Around the World (Transaction Books, $44.95), edited by Shulamit Reinharz and Segio DellaPergola, is unique in its collection of studies of “outmarriage” among the smaller communities of Jews outside of Israel and the U.S.
A chapter providing an overview of research by well-known Israeli demographer DellaPergola ﬁnds that in the 1930s most Jews lived in countries where the rate of out-marriage was below ﬁve percent, and in no community did it rise above 35 percent. Today, the majority of world Jewry live in countries where the intermarriage rate is above 35 percent, with the majority above 50 percent. The intermarriage trends among French Jews reﬂect broader patterns throughout the Diaspora.
The growth of Jews cohabiting, o en in interfaith relationships, may actually be a “way of solving the issue of intermarriage by circumventing it,” writes contributor Erik Cohen. His ﬁnding that Jews who live in Paris or its suburbs have lower rates of intermarriage than those who live in the provinces supports the thesis (conﬁrmed in other chapters) that Jewish demographic density discourages out-marriage. Another common pattern (with the exception of the U.S.) found in the French case is that Jewish men are more likely to marry out than Jewish women.
A noteworthy chapter ﬁnds this gender pattern especially pronounced in the former Soviet Union, where immigration has largely depleted the ranks of Jewish women (for instance, the intermarriage rate for Jewish men in Ukraine is 82 percent). Most children raised in this mixed ethno-religious environment “have a clear preference for a nonJewish ethnic aﬃliation.”
Other chapters include a look at how the li ing of apartheid in South Africa encouraged a wave of out-marriage among Jews there; a counterexample is found in Mexico and Venezuela (reﬂecting other Central American contexts) of low frequencies of out-marriage (perhaps related to widespread Jewish schooling). In contrast, the high rate of outmarriage (and adoption of Catholicism among the intermarried Jews) in Argentina constitutes “social entropy and endangers the future of the Jewish communities,” concludes Yaccov Rubel.
06: The Mind of the Anglican Clergy (Edwin Mellen Press, $109.95), by Andrew Village and Leslie J. Francis, is a comprehensive study of Anglican priests, showing that the level of conﬁdence in their leaders and in the future of the state church is shaky at best.
The study is based on a survey of 1,849 clergy (82 percent men and 18 percent women) who were randomly drawn from the readership of the Church Times newspaper (the study is therefore tilted slightly toward liberal and Anglo-Catholic orientations). As found among clergy in other studies, there is a gap between clergy holding more liberal theological and social views than the laity, especially on issues such as gay rights in the church.
On this issue, there is likely to be continued drift, especially as women and younger clergy are the voices of change, except when the clergy is evangelical or charismatic. The clergy tended to uphold core Christian doctrines, while engaging with critical views of the Bible to a far greater extent than the laity. Somewhat more unexpected is the ﬁnding that 42 percent of clergy do not have strong conﬁdence in the leadership oﬀered by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and 33 percent want the Church of England to be disestablished. Prodisestablishment views were greatest among liberal clergy.