01: Although the Emerging Movement has been known for its promotion of diversity and inclusiveness, clergy identifying as Emerging tend to be liberal in their politics, according to a study by Ryan Burge and Paul Djupe.
The writers and leaders associated with the EM, known for its postmodern approach stressing community and non-dogmatism, have often differentiated it from conservative evangelicalism. In an article in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (September), the researchers analyze data from the Cooperative Clergy Study, which surveyed ministers from evangelical and mainline denominations, finding 7 percent identify as “Emerging.”
Burge and Djupe find that, somewhat unexpetedly, a large number of mainline Protestants identifying as Emerging (the movement has often been seen as a refuge for dissenting conservative evangelicals). Clergy associated with the Emerging movement were more liberal in their theological and political views than other clergy. The movement was also found to be more diverse in ideology and religion—as Emerging leaders and writers claim—and thus may be a reason why it attracts those more liberal clergy. Burge and Djupe note that these findings may not necessarily represent Emerging Christians who are outside of denominations.
(Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1468-5906)
02: Researchers are just beginning to understand how religious leaders use social media in their ministries, but a preliminary study of two prominent megachurch pastors suggests that they tend to “broadcast” their messages to members and other followers on such a medium as Twitter rather than interacting with their fan base.
That is one of the conclusions published in an article in the Journal of Religion, Media & Digital Culture (August) by Susan Codone of Mercer University. She studied the Twitter activity (tweets) of Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California and Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church in Atlanta. Codone finds that both leaders are “building influence outside traditional church hierarchies through their extensive use of Twitter and other social media platforms, as evidenced by their high follower counts. Along with other forms of social media, Warren is highly active on Twitter, with 1.4 million followers; Stanley has just over 392,000 followers.
Using a Twitter archiving service to access the Twitter activity of @rickwarren and @andystanley, Codone studied all the tweets of Stanley and one-third of Warren’s Twitter feed. She classifies their Twitter activity as “Encouragement and Teaching and Marketing Ministry, which falls more closely in line with their stated roles as evangelical leaders of megachurches in the United States.” Both Warren and Stanley use Twitter as a “megaphone” but neither use it as a “stethoscope” to take the pulse of their organizations. Because Stanley does interact more with his followers than Warren, “he may be able to monitor the spiritual interest and engagement with his followers while simultaneously broadcasting church events and opportunities.” Codone concludes that more research is needed to determine if more pastors tweet in the same ways as Rick Warren and Andy Stanley.
(Journal of Religion, Media & Digital Culture, http://www.jrmdc.com)
03: The growth of interest in pilgrimages is not so much a religious revival nor a secularization of a spiritual practice but rather a more mixed phenomenon, where pilgrims walking side by side may hold sharply different motivations and expectations of the experience.
In an article in the Review of Religious Research (September), researchers Luis Orviedo, Scarlett de Courcier, and Miguel Farias surveyed 470 participants in the pilgrimage to Santiago in Spain (known as the Camino), one of the most popular pilgrim sites. They find that the majority of pilgrims are far from experiencing a revival of Catholicism and tend to value “spirituality” more. The predominant orientation of pilgrims is one of seeking new sensations and looking for “life direction.” But alongside these secular and individualistic motivations, there was often an “almost mystical sense of nature—a desire to recover a sense of identity through a detachment from everyday life and relationships.” Being in nature allowed for a deeper sense of connection with the self, the researchers conclude.
(Review of Religious Research, http://rra.hartsem.edu/reviewof.htm)
04: The notion that there is increasing immigrant ethnic and religious diversity in Europe is prevalent among both immigration scholars and the public, but a new study in the journal Ethnic and Racial Studies (September) finds that both trends have remained relatively stable since the 1990s.
The article, by Phillip Connor of the Pew Research Center, uses data from Pew and the World Bank’s migration data base to track the rates of religious diversity and immigrant origins in six European nations: Norway, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK. France did not have consistent data on these measures, and Germany does not have straightforward data on its foreign-born population.
Because these six nations represent a combination of old and new destinations spread throughout Western Europe, they can indicate broader trends for the continent on religion. Connor finds that the religious distribution of immigrants in these six countries is relatively stable since the early 1990s. It is only in Sweden where there is a decrease of Christian immigrants and an increase of Muslims. In Spain, the opposite is true. There has been a decrease of Muslim immigrants and an increase of Christian ones, most likely due to the influx of immigrants from Romania and Latin America.
(Ethnic and Racial Studies, http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rers20/current#.VC7kBCx0y1s)
05: There have been claims that low rates of employment among women in the developing world are tied to their Muslim religiosity, but a new study suggests there are few straight lines between claiming Islamic religion and women’s empoyment outcomes.
The study, published in the Review of Religious Research (September) and based on demographic data of 35,000 women from Nigeria and Indonesia, looked at women’s employment in these nations apart from farm work. Researcher Niels Spierings finds that non-farm employment of Muslim women is not consistently lower than that of non-Muslim women. While there were some religious differences, there was not a clear division between Muslim and Christan women on unemployment rates. Rather, it was the ideological strand of Islam that proved more significant in employment outcomes rather than the differences between Islam and Christianity. It is more the case that “traditional women,” regardless of their religion, are employed less often. Thus, in Indonesia, traditionalist and modernist Islamic provinces show significantly different levels of employment outside the home.