|Bible Literalism Declines When Surrounded By College Educated|
|Living - The Dialogue|
|TS-Si News Service|
|Friday, 12 August 2011 14:00|
Waco, TX, USA. Regardless of a person's educational background, he or she is less likely to approach the Bible in a literal word-for-word fashion when surrounded by a greater number of church members who went to college.
According to a Baylor University sociology researcher, "When you go to Sunday school and everyone is talking about the cultural and historical background of a passage and its literary genre — a way of reading often learned in college — it's likely to rub off on you".
Samuel Stroope, a Baylor University doctoral student, made his observations in an award-winning research paper that appears in the journal Social Science Research. The Association for the Sociology of Religion (ASR) selected Stroope for the Robert J. McNamara Award for Outstanding Student Paper.
Samuel Stroope said his research illustrates the power of the social influences inside congregations in shaping how people read Scripture.
His motivation to explore the topic came from research literature showing a strong relationship between how much education people complete and how they view the Bible.
But no one had explored whether fellow worshippers' education might also play an important role, he said.Using national data from 387 congregations and more than 100,000 worshippers, Stroope explored the interplay between the educational backgrounds of church members. He used data from the U.S. Congregational Life Survey, a large and uniquely structured survey of churches and their members first fielded in 2001 and again in 2008 and 2009. It is the largest and most representative profile of worshipers and their congregations ever developed in the United States.
Stroope will present the paper on Aug. 20 at the Association for the Sociology of Religion's 73rd annual conference in Las Vegas. The highlights of his paper include:
The chair of the committee reviewing student research praised the "strong social structural component to the analysis." The paper "moves beyond description in an attempt to explain social phenomena," said Dr. Rachel Kraus, associate professor of sociology at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.
CitationEducation and religion: Individual, congregational, and cross-level interaction effects on biblical literalism. Samuel Stroope. Social Science Research. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2011.05.001
Using ideas from cultural and organizational theory, I examine the interplay of individual and congregation-level educational attainment on biblical literalism. Data on 387 congregations and 100,009 worshippers (US Congregational Life Survey, 2001) are used to test hypotheses. Results indicate that the effects of congregational education and individual educational attainment are among the largest effects in models. This study is the first to show that regardless of an individual’s own education, affirmations of biblical literalism are less likely when persons with higher education dominate a congregation. This finding brings into relief the important role of social context in persons’ belief in biblical literalism. Additionally, congregational education amplifies the influence of individual education on biblical literalism such that the gap in belief between college/non-college education individuals widens in high education congregations. This finding suggests that high education persons more deeply absorb the influence of a more educated congregational context.
Keywords: stratification, education, organizations, social networks, culture, religion, beliefs, congregations.
|Last Updated on Friday, 12 August 2011 13:40|