Scholar Finds Peril & Progress Studying Religion, Society

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Churches Using Alcohol to Attract Worshippers May Well be a Sign of Growing Secularity 

Just what kind of affect does religion have on society? Are non-religious societies healthier, more educated, and happier? Are religious liberals more beneficial to a healthy community than fundamentalists, religious moderates or non-believers? And just where, and how, could we find answers to these difficult questions? With me today is Dr. Ryan Cragun, a sociologist of religion at the University of Tampa, in Florida. His research and writing focuses on religion, with an emphasis on Mormonism, the nonreligious and secularization. He’ll help us work through some of these tough problems. Where we don’t find answers, perhaps we’ll at least find some direction or context. We discuss his current book, What You Don’t Know About Religion (but Should), published earlier this year. This book deals with precisely the type of questions just posed, and Cragun uses evidence and scholarship when considering them. His results are interesting, and in some cases, surprising.

Written By: Alan Litchfield
continue to source article at malcontentsgambit.com

6 COMMENTS

  1. errata:

    Dr. Ryan Cragun says his survey data are “impeachable”. I think he meant “impeccable”.

    Alan Litchfield said there was a 2-beer minimum at the church service. I think he meant a 2-beer maximum.

  2. There is a problem with gathering data by asking people questions.

    For example, I think most people will answer that they are mildly happy even if they just attempted suicide the night before. This is the socially acceptable answer.

    For example, people who are fundamentalist will exaggerate their piety, because they think that is the way they are supposed to behave.

    People will exaggerate income.

    People will exaggerate generosity to charity.

    To get proper data, you need to get the data independently in ways that don’t require the respondent to humiliate himself.

  3. I’ll listen later, but for now I have one query. The article asks,

    Are religious liberals more beneficial to a healthy community than fundamentalists, religious moderates or non-believers?

    What I want to know is, how do RLs differ from RMs? At least one definition for the distinction that springs to mind equates RLs with dishonest NBs, but presumably RLs are intended in this context to genuinely be believers. Can one be religiously liberal but far form moderate, or moderate yet illiberal?

    • In reply to #4 by Jos Gibbons:

      I’ll listen later, but for now I have one query. The article asks,

      Are religious liberals more beneficial to a healthy community than fundamentalists, religious moderates or non-believers?

      What I want to know is, how do RLs differ from RMs? At least one definition for the distinction that springs…

      I don’t think RMs are really believers and here’s why. If you really believed that stuff (God, Hell, afterlife, etc) then how could you NOT be a fundamentalist? Really, what else would even matter? My parents were RM catholics who made fun of the “fanatics”. But if they really believed all that, why didn’t they try harder to save me?

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