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10 September 2012

Bewildered about Belonging

It turns out, according to new research, most people are really confused about formal church membership. Here are screencaps of the tables from the research:

The research doesn't have a definitive way to gauge whether the respondents are correct, only whether they think that they are correct. As the rites and qualifications for membership (or lack thereof) vary significantly between different denominations and congregations, I suspect that many of the respondents are simply wrong. Regardless, these data highlight a problem inherent to many datasets popular with scholars of religion: most surveys lack a rigorous measure of belonging (i.e. formal membership). We tend to get around this by using affiliation and attendance as proxies for belonging. That is, we assume that those who claim to be part of a church and claim to show up regularly are likely to have formal membership, but this may cloud a trend of increasing informal belonging to which the above results seem to point.

h/t Religion News Service

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