Journal Article

Making Money Sacred: How Two Church Cultures Translate Mundane Money into Distinct Sacralized Frames of Giving

Peter Mundey, Hilary Davidson and Patricia Snell Herzog

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 72, issue 3, pages 303-326
Published in print September 2011 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online December 2010 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srq080
Making Money Sacred: How Two Church Cultures Translate Mundane Money into Distinct Sacralized Frames of Giving

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This paper explores how and why religious adherents participate in self-sacrificing behaviors, such as religious giving. Though previous literature shows that monetary giving can be conceptualized as a way to participate in the sacred, questions remain about how this sacralization process occurs and how it may differ across congregational contexts. This ethnographic analysis identifies distinct cultures of money sacralization by comparing and contrasting the “sacralized frames” of two religious congregations—one evangelical Protestant and the other mainline Protestant. We find that aspects of religious giving are sacred at both churches, but how money is made sacred is distinct, revealing differences between sacralizing the act of giving versus the outcome. Although both cultures of sacralization result in religious giving, they do so by making different aspects of the process sacred, and so are not interchangeable approaches to financial giving. While the sacralized frames in these two churches differ, the sacred persists, and the ways in which each church culture translates the mundane into the sacred matters for their motivations for and understandings of self-sacrificial giving.

Keywords: congregations; evangelical Protestantism; mainline Protestants; philanthropy

Journal Article.  11135 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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