Journal Article

Does Strictness Explain the Appeal of Working-Class Conservative Protestant Congregations?

Joseph B. Tamney

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 66, issue 3, pages 283-302
Published in print January 2005 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/4153100
Does Strictness Explain the Appeal of Working-Class Conservative Protestant Congregations?

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For different reasons, Kelky (1977) and Iannaccone (1994) (should de letter I not letter L) have argued that ascetic strictness causes congregational growth. The relevant published case studies of congregations do not support strictness theory, however this research concerned mainly middle-class congregations. A recently published quantitative study found that church growth was positively associated with strictness, but only among working-class congregations. Thus the research reported in this paper focused on working-class congregations and was meant to determine if there is a causal connection, and not just a statistical association, between strictness and church growth. Open-ended interviews were done with new participants in two working-class Protestant congregations about what drew them to their new congregations. The most important factors were feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit, the family-like nature of congregational life, and qualities of the pastor. No evidence supporting strictness theory was found.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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