Journal Article

The New Holy Clubs: Testing Church-to-Sect Propositions

Roger Finke and Rodney Stark

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 62, issue 2, pages 175-189
Published in print January 2001 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2001 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3712454
The New Holy Clubs: Testing Church-to-Sect Propositions

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The familiar sect-to-church theory holds that successful sects will gradually become more church-like over time, reducing the level of tension they hold with their environment. H. Richard Niebuhr (1929), the originator of sect-to-church theory, took it for granted that transformation was possible only in the church-like direction — that churches could not reverse the process and become more sectlike. Recent theoretical developments, however, suggest that under certain conditions, and where groups are market-dependent, religious organizations will shift in the direction of higher tension with their environment (Stark and Finke 2000). Using recent data from Methodist congregations, we test selected propositions from these new theoretical developments.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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