Reflection- Week 3

This week we talked about what makes a religion official and unofficial as well as the statistics that represent “softening” or religions who have become flexible in their traditions. In McGuire’s text she gives a good explanation on many religion’s churchly stances. We are able to come to conclusion of a religious collectivity’s stance from two sociologically important characteristics–the relationship between the religious group and the larger society, and the extent to which the religious group considers itself to be uniquely legit. McGuire also explains what brings people together and what attracts people to a certain group and holds them together.

Chaves brings up the changes and trends in the American religion as a whole. Chaves documents how organizational ties between congregations and national denominations have loosened. Chaves also notices how there is a dramatic increase in the use of computer technology. He gave an example that every year since 1998, 10,000 congregations created a website. Another trend that is changing religion as a whole is the increased informality in worship. The last three trends are- people in the pew are getting older, a congregations education and income level are shifting, and the religious concentration is intensifying and more people are concentrating in the very largest congregations.

This week’s reading material gave me a solid grasp on the differences of an official religion versus unofficial religion and what social changes are creating a shift in American religion as a whole. Now I understand what questions to be asking in a sociologist’s perspective as we dive deeper into the content of religion.