Declining Church Attendance
HADAWAY ET AL:
- Opinion poll research suggests church attendance has been stable for 40% of population since 1940.
- However, figure does not match Churches' own attendance statistics.
- Research in Ohio showed claimed attendance was 83% higher than estimated nationally.
- This exaggeration is a recent trend since the 70s.
- Opinion polls have masked a decline in church attendance in the USA.
- It is still seen as socially desirable to attend church.
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Secularisation From Within
- Religion in America has adapted to the modern world by becoming secular from within.
- Emphasis on traditional Christian beliefs has declined.
- Religion has become more psychologised and become a form of therapy.
- The change has enabled it to fit with a secular society.
- American religion has remained popular by becoming less religious.
- Purpose of religioon had changed from seeking salvation to personal improvement.
- Lack of committment to traditional beliefs can be seen in attitudes and lifestyles.
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- Growth of religious diversity has led to churchgoers becoming less dogmatic in their views.
- There has been a trend towards practical relativism.
- American Christians accepting that beliefs are now varied.
- Counter part to relativism is the erosion of absolutism.
- Variation of interpretation of truth undermines the idea that our own view is absolute truth.
- Religious diversity generate competition and encourages religious groups to actively recruit new members counteracting secularisation.
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Criticisms of Secularisation Theory
- Religion is not declining but changing form.
- Secularisation theory focuses on decline and ignore revival and growth of new religions.
- Ignores people who believe but do not attend church.
- Secularisation is not globally universal.
- The past was not a golden age of religion and the future will not be an age of atheism.
- Religious diversity increases participation as it increases choice.
- There is no overall downward trend.
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