Exclusivity in Religious Organizations

In certain groups, there always seems to be a separatist mentality, one that distinguishes members from non-members, insiders from outsiders and the such. In chapter six of McGuire, she touches on conflicts with outsiders and boundaries between religious groups and the supposed outsiders. The dichotomy that McGuire presents in religious communities of an “in-group” and outsiders seems to be present in many of the more intense and sectarian religious communities which intimidate those on the outside. Although the exclusivity of certain religious communities and organizations function well for the power dynamic and hierarchy of the organization, how can they expect to gain more members? Or do they even wish to have new members if they are so closed off, anyhow? McGuire states, “‘Born-again’ Christians consider their religious experience an important distinction between themselves and others, and their ways of witnessing to their special experience of being ‘born again’ symbolize this difference.” (pg. 204). To some exclusive forms of religion, these distinctions are extremely important, and as we saw in class last week in watching “Born Again”, it is also very important for such individuals to impose their own beliefs on others. In the film, we saw the beliefs and the extremes that some born again individuals go to in trying to persuade others to convert to their own beliefs. Seeing the pressure that one of the born again members put on his brother who had not converted or found Jesus as his personal savior, seems to me to be intrinsically wrong. Although I believe that everyone should have their right to worship and believe whatever it is that works for them, being pushed in to converting to a religion like Ted was by his brother does not seem like and personal religious decision, and more that of appeasement.