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In: Journal of Religion and Demography

Abstract

This paper aims to explain patterns of Charismatic revival by utilizing a quantitative lens on church growth in Singapore during the mid-1900s. The research digitized and then analyzed data from the archives of the Methodist Church of Singapore between the years 1889 and 2012. The annual conference reports recorded several variables over this 123-year period such as church membership, baptisms, and professions of faith. In recent years, it also records the average Sunday attendance at each of 23 churches throughout Singapore. This paper presents a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the historical data and concludes that, in line with predictions from the cognitive science of religion (CSR), religious revival can serve to energize religious communities that are primarily reliant on rituals with high frequency and low-arousal (see Whitehouse 2004). Typically, high frequency and low-arousal rituals allow for high levels of consensus and social identification among large religious groups. However, as a byproduct of their high frequency and low-arousal, the repeated rituals are predicted to suffer from the effects of tedium, which lowers motivation for the information presented during the rituals and can have negative effects on group cohesion. The ethnographic and historical records investigated within the theory of Divergent Modes of Religiosity (DMR) have suggested that short bursts of reinvigoration can be used to revitalize motivation in doctrinal religions. While the data from Singapore’s Clock Tower Revival events in the 1970s suggest that such an event did occur, the DMR, as traditionally formulated, is unable to capture the dynamics of Singaporean Christian demographics because 1) it does not clearly account for the high number of converts who have entered the religion and 2) it cannot account for the sustained presence of high-arousal rituals in the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches in Singapore since the Clock Tower Revival. Demographic data from Singapore, in particular the Singaporean Methodist church, complicate CSR’s current approach to tedium because it appears that the religious communities in Singapore have not only sustained their motivation, they have grown since the initial revival period in the 1970s, suggesting that new amendments to our approach to tedium in doctrinal religions may be appropriate (Lane, 2021, 2019; Lane, Shults, & McCauley, 2019). As such, this paper discusses how the data from the Methodist church in Singapore are more easily explained through the use of a new approach toward understanding social cohesion in religions that relies on a cognitive (i.e., information processing) approach that links social and personal information schemas with rehearsal, memory, and personal experiences. The theory also aims to formulate its claims with sufficient specificity to be modeled in computer simulations (Lane 2018, 2013) to be further tested against other historical groups, which this paper discusses in regards to future directions for the research.

In: Journal of Religion and Demography
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In: Journal of Religion and Demography

Abstract

This paper presents new estimates of the U.S. Jewish population based on a 2019–2020 Pew Research Center survey, which used a stratified address-based sample of all Americans to screen more than 68,000 respondents and complete full interviews with more than 5,800 adults who are Jewish or have some kind of connection to Judaism. We estimate there are about 5.8 million adult Jews living in the United States, including 4.2 million who identify as Jewish by religion and 1.5 million who are Jews of no religion. In addition, 1.8 million children live with at least one adult Jew and are being raised Jewish in some way. Altogether, about 7.5 million people, or 2.4% of the total U.S. population, are Jewish. We present population estimates for additional detailed categories of Jewish adults and children in Jewish households that are not available in any other recent source.

In: Journal of Religion and Demography

Abstract

This article presents a series of projections for religious communities worldwide from 2020 to 2050. It offers details related to the projection methodology used to generate the estimates and comments on trends and patterns among Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics, and atheists. It concludes with suggestions on how such projections might be improved in the future.

In: Journal of Religion and Demography

Abstract

In this study, we examine which narratives were put forward by key figures of the Dutch reformed pietist community during the COVID-19 pandemic. We analyse sermons and news articles from the period March–November 2020. We find, as expected, a dominant narrative of COVID-19 as God’s judgment, a calling to repentance and an event which emphasizes the need for prayer. Although the pandemic was seen as a call by God, the systematic origin of the virus (God/Satan/natural phenomena) remained rather ambiguous. More often it was stated that ‘everything falls under His providence’. The earthly origin of the virus remained mostly unaddressed, as well as eschatological interpretations, contrary to our expectations. We conclude that the main narrative is a general message of repentance, rather than a concrete theological application to the dynamic of the virus, its origins and its subsequent spread. In some cases, virus ‘jargon’ even was used as a tool just to further accentuate general tendencies of reformed pietist theology.

Open Access
In: Journal of Empirical Theology

Abstract

The following tables represent the results of analysis of data on religion for all of the countries of the world which appear in the World Religion Database (Johnson and Grim 2008). These data are collected at the national level from a number of sources including censuses, surveys, polls, religious communities, scholars, and others.

In: Journal of Religion and Demography
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In: Journal of Empirical Theology
Author: Andrew Shepherd

Abstract

Within the emerging field of evolutionary psychology a consensus is developing that the triggering of emotions is integral to the human response to threats. This understanding of human psychology underlies a vigorous debate within the contemporary activity of climate change communication regarding the efficacy of the emotions of fear vis-à-vis hope for mobilising human behavioural change. Noting the contours of this debate and the paucity of radical future vision casting within contemporary western political discourse, the article examines how images of terror function within the ‘Little Apocalypse’ passage in Matthew 24 and potential insights this offers to our contemporary situation. Building upon this biblical reflection, the article contends that the Christian practices of preaching and singing have significant power to shape communal imaginative visions of alternative futures. As such, these practices are critical gifts that the church can offer the environmental movement and broader society in this moment of time.

In: International Journal of Public Theology
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In: International Journal of Public Theology