Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

Getting pious with a little help from our friends

February 01, 2012

Social networks at church influence beliefs, behavior

Friendships forged at church seem to play a major role in people's religious activities and beliefs - even when it comes to their views about how exclusive heaven is, according to a national study by a Baylor University sociology researcher.

"Although church-based friendship networks seem to bolster religiosity across the board, the effect of how enmeshed people are in congregational friendships is stronger on religious behavior than on beliefs. This makes sense - church-goers may not necessarily chat about the finer points of theological beliefs, such as the existence of demons, but they do seem to talk about things like prayer requests or upcoming church events, things that more directly lead to an effect on religious behavior," said Samuel Stroope, a doctoral candidate at Baylor. "Also, friends at church can see behavior. Beliefs are harder to monitor."

He wrote an article that was published online in the journal Sociology of Religion and will appear in print in the summer issue. It may be viewed at: http://socrel.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/10/31/socrel.srr052.full.pdf+html

Stroope analyzed data from the Baylor Religion Survey, a random survey of more than 1,600 adults nationwide. The survey asked questions on topics ranging from belief in the supernatural to social and political attitudes. The survey, designed by Baylor scholars, was conducted by The Gallup Organization.

To tap people's immersion in friendships at church, the survey asked, "What proportion of your friends attend your place of worship?" Responses included "none" (32 percent), "a few" (42 percent), "about half" (12 percent) "most" (13 percent) and "all" (2 percent). Participants also were questioned about their religious behaviors and beliefs. Stroope limited his analysis to American Christians who ever go to church. His study was the first to test the relationship between congregational friendship networks and a variety of religiosity indicators using a national sample of both.

Stroope found that the larger the proportion of friends a person has in his or her congregation, the more likely that the individual will be active in their religious behaviors. The study looked at two broad categories of religious behaviors. First, church activities were defined as activities such as choir participation, worship service attendance, Sunday school participation, going to church social events and doing church-related volunteer work. Second, devotional activities were defined as activities such as frequency of prayer, Bible reading, taking part in a Bible study and frequency of sharing faith with others.

The study uncovered variations by religious tradition. Although having more church friends was always linked to more participation in religious activities, there were differences between Catholics and Protestants but not differences among Protestant traditions such as evangelical and mainline Protestants. Stroope found that the effect of congregational friends on religious activities was weaker for Catholics than for Protestants.

"In other words, Catholic congregations received diminishing participation returns for the congregational friendships of their members in comparison to Protestant congregations," Stroope said.

He suggested that this pattern may in part reflect the fact that the contents of Protestant and Catholic congregational social networks have different norms. For example:

- Protestant friends encourage a person to view church as a kind of social hub where a person participates in committees, social events and seeks to find intimate community. For Protestants, the focus is that Christ is present "where two or three are gathered."

- Catholic friends encourage a person to view church life as primarily centered on elements such as the Eucharist, baptism and liturgy. A big focus is that Christ is concretely present in the Eucharist, and a person goes to Mass to meet Christ there. Turning to devotional activities, the data showed no meaningful differences between religious traditions in how church friends bolstered individuals' devotional activities. Friendship networks in all religious traditions seem to similarly bolster the devotional behavior measured in this study.

The study also found a weaker but consistent link between church friends and various religious beliefs. People with no friends at church held fewer supernatural beliefs than people who reported that some or more of their friends attended their church. Having some as opposed to no friends at church was the important cutting point associated with affirming a significantly greater number of supernatural beliefs. Meanwhile, when it came to the view of the Bible, drawing a greater proportion of one's friends from church was associated with increased odds of affirming that the Bible "should be taken literally, word for word on all subjects," Stroope said.

And "regardless of where you go to church-to a Catholic, evangelical Protestant or mainline Protestant congregation-if you have more friends there, then on average you're more likely to hold an exclusive view of heaven and believe that non-Christians are excluded from heaven," he said. The study specifically looked at whether respondents believe that Muslims, Buddhists and non-religious persons do not go to heaven.

Baylor University


Related Religious Behaviors Current Events and Religious Behaviors News Articles


Sobriety, spirituality linked for teens in treatment
If the spirit is truly willing, perhaps the flesh is not so weak, after all.

UBC study explores distrust of atheists by believers
Distrust is the central motivating factor behind why religious people dislike atheists, according to a new study led by University of British Columbia psychologists.
More Religious Behaviors Current Events and Religious Behaviors News Articles

Behind the Masks: Personality Disorders in Religious Behavior (Personality Disorders in Religious Behaviour)

Behind the Masks: Personality Disorders in Religious Behavior (Personality Disorders in Religious Behaviour)
by Wayne E. Oates (Author)


Wayne Oates, one of America's leading pastoral counselors, draws on psychological insights to describe in everyday language several common personality disorders that make human interaction so difficult. He examines the reasons why individuals develop as they do and illuminates how personality disorders can result in destructive relgious behavior. Proposing pastoral care approaches that combine understanding with empathy and firmness, Oates discusses how the resources of the Christian faith can unmask these disorders so the real person can emerge. He concludes with a sixfold agenda for the total ministry of the church to prevent, affect, and deal with personality disorders.

Keeping Your Cool: A Book about Anger (Growing God's Kids)

Keeping Your Cool: A Book about Anger (Growing God's Kids)
by Carolyn Larsen (Author), Tim O'Connor (Illustrator)


Stories to Encourage Positive Behavior in Small Children

The preschool and kindergarten years are some of the most important formative years of a person's life. Habits and attitudes developed during these crucial years affect a child for the rest of his or her life. These years are also a challenging time for parents as their children test boundaries (and patience). How parents and children respond makes all the difference in the world.

The Growing God's Kids series is designed to help young children understand their feelings, develop godly ways to deal with temptations, and form positive attitudes and behaviors that will serve them well in the future. In Keeping Your Cool, parents and children are encouraged to recognize the feeling of anger and find constructive ways to...

Have a New Kid by Friday: How to Change Your Child's Attitude, Behavior & Character in 5 Days

Have a New Kid by Friday: How to Change Your Child's Attitude, Behavior & Character in 5 Days
by Kevin Leman (Author)


New York Times bestselling author shows parents how to reverse negative behavior in their children-fast! More than 700,000 copies sold.

The Biology of Religious Behavior: The Evolutionary Origins of Faith and Religion

The Biology of Religious Behavior: The Evolutionary Origins of Faith and Religion
by Jay R. Feierman (Author)


Offers a fresh and detailed take on the evolution of religious behavior from a biobehavioral perspective, promoting a new understanding that may help build bridges across the religious divide.

Counseling and Psychotherapy With Religious Persons: A Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy Approach (The Lea Series in Personality and Clinical Psychology)

Counseling and Psychotherapy With Religious Persons: A Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy Approach (The Lea Series in Personality and Clinical Psychology)
by Stevan L. Nielsen (Author), W. Brad Johnson (Author), Albert Ellis (Author)


Practitioners are increasingly aware that religious persons present unique problems and challenges in therapy. Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is among the most widely practiced, highly structured and active directive approaches to treating emotional and behavioral problems. Introduced by Albert Ellis in the early 1950s, REBT is the original cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy and its efficacy has been supported by hundreds of treatment outcome studies.

A uniquely belief-focused therapy, REBT is usually quite appealing to clients from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and other religious traditions, who respond favorably to REBT's focus on right belief, active engagement in the work of therapy, and reading/practice focused homework.

In this practical and...

  Behind the Masks: Personality Disorders in Religious Behavior
b




Flight Behavior: A Novel

Flight Behavior: A Novel
by Barbara Kingsolver (Author)


"Kingsolver is a gifted magician of words."
—TimeThe extraordinary New York Times bestselling author of The Lacuna (winner of the Orange Prize), The Poisonwood Bible (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize), and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver returns with a truly stunning and unforgettable work. Flight Behavior is a brilliant and suspenseful novel set in present day Appalachia; a breathtaking parable of catastrophe and denial that explores how the complexities we inevitably encounter in life lead us to believe in our particular chosen truths. Kingsolver's riveting story concerns a young wife and mother on a failing farm in rural Tennessee who experiences something she cannot explain, and how her discovery energizes various competing factions—religious leaders, climate...

Behavior Problems in Dogs

Behavior Problems in Dogs
by William E. Campbell (Author)


Here is the book veterinarians refer to when solving challenging behavior problems. Humane, efficient and effective ways of dealing with negative behaviors. All veterinarians and most dog owners should have this one!

Hands Are Not for Hitting (Best Behavior)

Hands Are Not for Hitting (Best Behavior)
by Martine Agassi Ph.D. (Author), Marieka Heinlen (Illustrator)


Children learn that violence is never okay, that they can manage their anger and other strong feelings, and that they’re capable of positive, loving actions—like playing, making music, learning, counting, helping, taking care, and much more. Includes a special section for adults with activities and discussion starters.

Hands Are Not for Hitting / Las manos no son para pegar (Best Behavior) (English and Spanish Edition)

Hands Are Not for Hitting / Las manos no son para pegar (Best Behavior) (English and Spanish Edition)
by Martine Agassi Ph.D. (Author), Marieka Heinlen (Illustrator)


Little ones learn that hitting is never okay, hands can do many good things, and everyone is capable of positive, loving actions. Includes tips for parents and caregivers.

© 2016 BrightSurf.com