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Encyclopedia > Religious disaffiliation

Religious disaffiliation means leaving a faith, or a religious group or community. It is in many respects the reverse of religious conversion. Several other terms are used for this process, though each of these terms may have slightly different meanings and connotations. Faith is commonly known as a belief, trust or confidence often based on a transpersonal relationship with God, a higher power, elements of nature and/or a perception of the human race as a whole. ... Various religious symbols Religion is a system of social coherence based on a common group of beliefs or attitudes concerning an object, person, unseen being, or system of thought considered to be supernatural, sacred, divine or highest truth, and the moral codes, practices, values, institutions, and rituals associated with such... Religious conversion is the adoption of new religious beliefs that differ from the converts previous beliefs; in some cultures (e. ...


Bromley (1998) describes a problem with the terminology used to describe the process of religious disaffiliation. He asserts that affiliation with a religious group is referred to as conversion, and describes the continuing debate over the referent for this term, as he sees no parallel term for dissafiliation. Researchers have employed a variety of terms to describe it, including: [1] In general, a reference is something that refers or points to something else, or acts as a connection or a link between two things. ...

  • dropping out;
  • exiting;
  • disidentification;
  • leavetaking;
  • defection;
  • apostasy (major article) is often used from the perspective of the religious group. In the sociology of religion the term apostasy is usually reserved for people who leave a religion and become its active critics;
  • disaffiliation refers to breaking bonds with a group; and[2]
  • disengagement

Contents

Dropping out means to withdraw from established society, especially because of disillusion with conventional values. ... In politics, a defector is a person who gives up allegiance to one state or political entity in exchange for allegiance to another. ... Apostasy (from Greek αποστασία, a defection or revolt from a military commander, from απο, apo, away, apart, στασις, stasis, standing) is a term generally employed to describe the formal renunciation of ones religion, especially if the motive is deemed unworthy. ... The sociology of religion is primarily the study of the practices, social structures, historical backgrounds, development, universal themes, and roles of religion in society. ...

Secularism

Peter Berger (1998) describes that there are conflicting views about secularism. One, that secularism means disengagement from religion as such, and the other which regards secularism as the equal tolerance and/or encouragement of all religions.[3] Peter Ludwig Berger (born March 17, 1929) is an American sociologist well known for his work The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (New York, 1966). ... Secularity is the state of being free from religious or spiritual qualities. ...


Coerced and voluntary disaffiliation

In most cases, disaffilation is voluntary, but in some cases it is coerced. [4]One form of coerced disaffiliation is expulsion (including excommunication) by the religious group. Deprogramming may involve kidnapping [4] , though deprogramming sometimes fails (i.e., the deprogrammed member may go back to the religious group). Expulsion is one of words used to describe expulsions after World War II, indicating condemnation of the events. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Deprogramming refers to actions to force a person to abandon allegiance to a religious group. ...


Stages of religious disaffiliation

Brinkerhoff and Burke (1980) argue that "religious disaffiliation is a gradual, cumulative social process in which negative labelling may act as a 'catalyst' accelerating the journey of apostasy while giving it form and direction."[5] They also argue that the process of religious disaffiliation includes the member stopping believing but continuing to participate in rituals, and that the element of doubt underlies many of the theoretical assumptions dealing with apostasy. [6]


Ebaugh (1988) describes in her article about ex-nuns four stages characteristic of role exit[7] [8]: Nun in cloister, 1930; photograph by Doris Ulmann In general, a nun is a female ascetic who chooses to voluntarily leave mainstream society and live her life in prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent. ...

  1. first doubts
  2. seeking and weighing role alternatives
  3. a turning point
  4. establishing an ex-role identity.

The vast majority of the ex-nuns stayed Catholics according to two samples taken by Ebaugh. [9]


Factors affecting psychological and social aspects

According to Meredith McGuire (2002), in a book about the social context in religion, if the religious affiliation was a big part of a leaver's social life and identity then leaving can be a wrenching experience, and the way in which one leaves a religious group is another factor that may aggravate problems. McGuire writes that if the response of the group is hostile, or follows an attempt by that person to change the group from "the inside" before leaving, then the process of leaving will be fraught with considerable emotional and social tensions. [4]


Marc Galanter, in a study of 237 members of the Unification Church, found that they had had a significantly higher degree of neurotic distress before conversion when compared to a control group, disproving that symptoms of psychopathology have been caused by cult involvement, 30% of these had sought professional help for emotional problems before conversion. Galanter further notes that the process of joining, being a member, and leaving a new religious group is best described not as a matter of personal pathology but of social adaptation. For example, experiences that in a secular setting might be considered pathological are, within some religious setting may be considered normal. While psychological categories were created to discuss dysfunctional behavior by an individual, the behavior of group members must be seen in light of group norms, meaning that what may be considered disturbed behavior in a secular setting may be perfectly functional and normal within a group context. Galanter's analysis had the effect of reducing the significance of the abnormal behavior reported among ex-members. He also suggested an alternative means of understanding otherwise inexplicable behavior in members and ex-members without considering them as suffering from psychopathology.[10] The Unification Church is a new religious movement started by Sun Myung Moon in Korea in the 1940s. ... Psychopathology is a term which refers to either the study of mental illness or mental distress the manifestation of behaviours and experiences which may be indicative of mental illness or psychological impairment. ...


The Handbook of Religion and Health describes a survey by Feigelman (1992) who examined hapiness in Americans who have given up religion, in which it was found that there was little relationship between religious disaffiliation and unhappiness.[11] A survey by Kosmin & Lachman (1993), also cited in this handbook, indicates that people with no religous affiliation appear to be at greater risk for depressive symptoms than those affiliated with a religion.[12]


References

  1. ^ Bromley, David G. Perspectives on Religious Disaffiliation (1988), article in the book edited by David G. Bromley Falling from the Faith: Causes and Consequences of Religious Apostasy ISBN 0-8039-3188-3 page 23
    ”One obvious problem is the terminological thicket surrounding the process of religious disaffiliation. Affiliation with a religious group is referred to as conversion , although there is continuing debate over the referent(s) of this term; but there is no parallel term for disaffiliation. Indeed as the essays in this volume reveal, researchers have employed a variety of terms (dropping out, exiting, disidentification, leavetaking, defecting, apostasy, disaffiliation, disengagement) to label this process”
  2. ^ Hadden, Jeffrey [1]
  3. ^ Berger, Peter L. –The Limits of Social Cohesion: Conflict and Mediation in Pluralist Societies p.279, Westview Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8133-6719-0
  4. ^ a b c McGuire, Meredith B. "Religion: the Social Context" fifth edition (2002) ISBN 0-534-54126-7 Chapter Three:the individual's religion, section disengagement pages 93
  5. ^ Cited in Ballis, Peter H. –Leaving the Adventist Ministry: A Study of the Process of Exiting, p.24, Praeger Publishers (1999), ISBN 0-275-96229-6
  6. ^ Cited in Brinkerhoff, Merlin B. and Mackie, Marlene M. – Casting off the Bonds of Organized Religion: a Religious-Careers Approach to the Study of Apostasy, p.249, Review of Religious Research, Vol. 34, 1993.
    Brinkerhoff and Burke ( 1980 ) typology of the process of religious disaffiliation posits that doubting members may stop believing but continue to participate as ritualists. Doubts precede apostasy. The element of doubt underlies many of the theoretical assumptions dealing with apostasy.
  7. ^ McGuire, Meredith B. "Religion: the Social Context" fifth edition (2002) ISBN 0-534-54126-7 Chapter Three:the individual's religion, section disengagement pages 91-94
  8. ^ Ebaugh, Helen Rose Fuchs Leaving Catholic Convents: towards a Theory of Disengagement (1988), article in the book edited by David G. Bromley Falling from the Faith: Causes and Consequences of Religious Apostasy ISBN 0-8039-3188-3
  9. ^ Ebaugh, Helen Rose Fuchs Leaving Catholic Convents: towards a Theory of Disengagement (1988), article in the book edited by David G. Bromley Falling from the Faith: Causes and Consequences of Religious Apostasy ISBN 0-8039-3188-3 page 114
    "The vast majority of ex-nuns in both samples remained Catholics after they left the convent. In fact, many of them because lay leaders in their parishes and reported that religion was still very important to them. Leaving the convent in no way indicated disaffection with the institutional church for most ex-nuns. Less than 3% left the church after exiting religious life. The exit process, therefore, and the establishment of an ex identity involved change in their role as nun, not as a Catholic."
  10. ^ Galanter, Mark et al., The "Moonies": A Psychological Study of Conversion and Membership in a Contemporary Religious Sect, 136 AM. J. PSYCHIATRY pp. 165-170 (Feb. 1979)
  11. ^ Koenig. Harold G., Larson, David B., and Mcculloug, Michael E. –Handbook of Religion and Health, p.122, Oxford University Press (2001), ISBN 0-8133-6719-0
    Feigelman et al. (1992) examined happiness in Americans who have given up religion. Using pooled data from the General Social Surveys conducted between 1972 and 1990, investigators identified more than 20,000 adults for their study. Subjects of particular interest were “disaffiliates”—those who were affiliated with a religion at age 16 but who were not affiliated at the time of the survey (disaffiliates comprised from 4.4% to 6.0% of respondents per year during the 18 years of surveys). “Actives” were defined as persons who reported a religious affiliation at age 16 and a religious affiliation at the time of the survey (these ranged from 84.7% to 79.5% of respondents per year between 1972 and 1990). Happiness was measured by a single question that assessed general happiness (very happy, pretty happy, not too happy). When disaffiliates (n = 1,420) were compared with actives (n = 21,052), 23.9% of disaffiliates indicated they were “very happy, ” as did 34.2% of actives. When the analysis was stratified by marital status, the likelihood of being very happy was about 25% lower (i.e., 10% difference) for married religious disaffiliates compared with married actives. Multiple regression analysis revealed that religious disaffiliation explained only 2% of the variance in overall happiness, after marital status and other covariates were controlled. Investigators concluded that there was little relationship between religious disaffiliation and unhappiness (quality rating 7)
  12. ^ Koenig. Harold G., Larson, David B., and Mcculloug, Michael E. –Handbook of Religion and Health, p.111, Oxford University Press (2001)
    Currently, approximately 8% of the U.S. population claim no religious affiliation (Kosmin & Lachman, 1993). People with no affiliation appear to be at greater risk for depressive symptoms than those affiliated with a religion. In a sample of 850 medically ill men, Koenig, Cohen, Blazer, Pieper, et al. (1992) examined whether religious affiliation predicted depression after demographics, medical status, and a measure of religious coping were controlled. They found that, when relevant covariates were controlled, men who indicated that they had “no religious affiliation” had higher scores on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (an observer-administered rating scale) than did men who identified themselves as moderate Protestants, Catholics, or nontraditional Christians.

David G. Bromley is a professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA and the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Education and Career Bromley received his B.A. in sociology (1963) from Colby College. ... David G. Bromley is a professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA and the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Education and Career Bromley received his B.A. in sociology (1963) from Colby College. ... David G. Bromley is a professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA and the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Education and Career Bromley received his B.A. in sociology (1963) from Colby College. ... The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale is a 21-question multiple choice questionnaire which doctors may use to rate the severity of a patients depression. ...

Further reading

  • Oakes, Len Dr. Prophetic Charisma: The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities, 1997, Syracuse University press ISBN 0-8156-0398-3 excerpts
  • Wright, Stuart A. Leaving Cults: The Dynamics of Defection, published by the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion: Monograph Series nr. 7 1987 ISBN 0-932566-06-5

See also

Apostasy (from Greek αποστασία, a defection or revolt from a military commander, from απο, apo, away, apart, στασις, stasis, standing) is a term generally employed to describe the formal renunciation of ones religion, especially if the motive is deemed unworthy. ... Crisis of faith is a term commonly applied to periods of intense doubt and internal conflict about ones preconceived beliefs or life decisions. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with deprogramming. ... Exmormonism is a term used to describe the community of former members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or other sects of Mormonism. ... This article is in need of attention. ... Religious intolerance is intolerance motivated by ones own religious beliefs, generally against anothers religious beliefs. ... Secularization is a contentious term because the concept of secularization can be confused with secularism, a philosophical and political movement that promotes the idea that society benefits by being less religious, whereas the opposing view is that the values and beliefs implicit in religions support a more moral and, therefore... Shunning is the act of deliberately avoiding association with, and habitually keeping away from an individual or group. ... Spiritual abuse is the name given to what many critics consider abusive practices in churches, and spiritual and religious organizations and groups. ... Anabaptists (Greek ανα (again) +βαπτιζω (baptize), thus, re-baptizers [1], German: Wiedertäufer) are Christians of the Radical Reformation. ...

External links

  • Apostasy and defection entry by Ross P. Scherer in the Encyclopedia of Religion and Society edited by William H. Swatos, Jr.

 
 

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