Reflection 3.26

At the beginning of this week, we learned about new trends in the sociology of religion, from changing gender roles to increasing awareness around LGBTQ sexuality. First, we heard about increases in unofficial religion. The subjects used by McGuire grew up within the confines of official religion but supplemented or replaced it with alternative practices. For example, one woman practiced gardening and reoriented her career and home around this spiritual practice. Another remained active within his church but focused on social activism as his main religious expression. Zimbauer also studies “nones” or “spiritual but not religious” people, who tend to have higher incomes and more negative attitudes toward religion.
In addition to increasing expressions of unofficial religion, we discussed LGBTQ and female religiosity. In “Queering the Dragonfest,” Neitz described pagans’ increasing comfort with gender-bending and same-sex relationships. Meanwhile, “Gospel Hour” allowed gay men a safe space to express their belief while healing from the harsh exclusion they had experienced from their churches growing up. Finally, in “Gendering Secularization Theory,” Woodhead described three different lifestyles modern women choose and how they affect their religious affiliation. Traditional domestic women, for example, often choose conservative religion, while career women generally stay away from it. Women who choose both paths may discard religion, but they may also choose to follow a liberal religious tradition as a way to help them manage their myriad responsibilities. In all, these articles helped us understand sociologists’ approaches and findings in new areas of religious expression.