American Sociological Association Section on

Sociology of Religion


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Volume VIII, Number 1 - Fall 2001


From the Chair
Spotlight on Our New Chair
Call for Papers
Essay: Religion and Globalization
Business Meeting Minutes
Funding Opportunities
Member Publications
Member News
Correction: Author
Internet News: Online Database
Publishing Opportunities
Call for Nominations
Deadline for Next Issue

Officers of the Section

Rhys Williams, Southern Illinois University,
Michele Dillon, Yale University,

Past Chair:
Nancy T. Ammerman, Hartford Seminary,
William Silverman
Newsletter Editor:
Joseph B. Tamney, Ball State University,

Penny Edgell Becker (03), Cornell University,
Michael Emerson (03), Rice University,

Harriet Hartman (02), Rowan University,
Dan Olson (04), Indiana University - South Bend,
Milagaros Peña (04), University of Florida,
R. Steven Warner (02), University of Illinois-Chicago,
Melissa J. Wilde (02), University of California - Berkeley,

From the Chair

Rhys H. Williams

As the in-coming chair of the ASA Section for the Sociology of Religion, I feel grateful to have the opportunity to work with a healthy and thriving section. The meetings in Anaheim revealed just how much interesting work is going on in the sociology of religion generally, and among Section members specifically. We even got a quorum for the business meeting—held in the afternoon of the last day of the ASA!!!

This year the ASA is beginning to restructure the section formation rules and the dues allocation process for sections. The changes will make sections harder to form and make smaller sections harder to maintain. The Religion Section, however, is in no danger from these changes. While we have lost some membership over the past two years, this has been the case for almost every other section in the ASA. Our losses have been consistent with the general decline in section membership. Thus, while we should continue to be concerned about our membership numbers, we need not be particularly worried about the Section’s health.

One way of maintaining the Section’s vitality is to reflect its intellectual and organizational excitement in the pages of the newsletter. The newsletter is of course a source for member news and announcements, but in recent years it has also begun to be a place for substantive content and intellectual debate as well. Current editor Joe Tamney is preparing to retire, however, and one task for the fall is to find his replacement. It is both my hope and the sense of the Section Council that we continue to develop the newsletter into a substantive as well as organizational vehicle for the Section. Anyone interested in the newsletter editor position should contact Joe Tamney, Nancy Ammerman, or me.

The 2002 ASA meetings will be in Chicago, and the section day for the Sociology of Religion will be the first day of the meetings. This will coincide with the second day of the Association for the Sociology of Religion meetings (August 16), so the two groups will once again co-sponsor a reception on that evening.

The ASA meeting theme this year is "Allocation Process and Ascription," which provides some fascinating questions for the sociology of religion. Is religion an ascriptive identity in the U.S.? Are some more so than others; why? How about in relation to other societies? In what ways does religion participate in—or challenge—the allocation processes that distribute rewards in society? You will see in other parts of this newsletter that the Program Committee (John Evans, Sally Gallagher, Rich Wood, and myself) has put together some session themes that ask some of these questions. And once again this year we will co-sponsor a session with the Section on Race and Ethnic Minorities; certainly the meeting theme could not be better suited for a joint session on religion and race/ethnicity!

As these plans begin to take shape, more information will appear in the newsletter. In the meantime, I hope everyone is now putting the Chicago meetings on their schedule for 2002. I look forward to seeing a large crowd there.

Finally, along with a small committee I am looking into the possibility of "naming" the awards that the Section gives each year to a student paper, a published article, and a book. There is some thought that giving the awards names makes the award both easier to remember and adds some measure of perceived prestige. At this point, we are thinking of using names of some of the "founders" of the sociology of religion, rather than choosing living scholars or financial contributors. I would gladly accept any suggestions or ideas. No change will be made without Council and Section approval.

Again, I want to express my gratitude at the opportunity to serve the Section in this capacity, and I look forward to this year and the 2002 meetings. See you all in Chicago.

Spotlight on Our New Chair

Rhys H. Williams (B.A. in Sociology/Political Science, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque 1979; Ph.D. in Sociology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst 1988) is now Associate Professor and Department Head of Sociology at the University of Cincinnati. Prior to that he was in the Sociology department of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. His research interests have focused on the intersections of religion, politics, and social movements, particularly in American culture. He co-authored (with Jay Demerath) A Bridging of Faiths: Politics and Religion in a New England City (Princeton 1992), and co-edited (with Demerath et al.) Sacred Companies: Organizational Aspects of Religion and Religious Aspects of Organizations (Oxford 1998). He was solo editor of Cultural Wars in American Politics: Critical Reviews of a Popular Myth (Aldine 1997) and Promise Keepers and the New Masculinity: Private Lives and Public Morality (Lexington 2001). In addition, he has authored or co-authored articles in the American Sociological Review, Social Problems, Theory and Society, the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and Sociology of Religion, among others. His articles won the 1992 Distinguished Article Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and the 2000 Distinguished Article Award from the ASA’s Section for the Sociology of Religion.

Thanks To Those Who Have Served Our Section

Nancy T. Ammerman, who served as Chair
Marie Cornwall and Katherine Meyer, who served on Council.

Congratulations To Those Who Won This Year’s Election

Michele Dillon, Chair-Elect
Dan Olson and Milagros Peña, new Council Members
Bill Silverman, Secretary-Treasurer.


The theme for the 2002 meeting of the American Sociological Association is "Allocation Process and Ascription," and will highlight the ways in which ascription (in identity and status) is intertwined in the institutional and social allocation processes. In keeping with this theme, the Section for the Sociology of Religion will sponsor two regular sessions:

Religion and Inequality
John H. Evans
School of Social Science
Institute for Advanced Study
Einstein Drive
Princeton, NJ 08540
phone: 609-734-8170

Religion in Comparative Perspective: Ascribed and Achieved Identities
Richard L. Wood
Department of Sociology
University of New Mexico
1915 Roma Dr. NE, SSCI 1103
Albuquerque, NM 87108-1646
phone: 505-277-3945

As always, the Section will also sponsor a roundtable session. Send ideas for roundtables, or submissions for presentation, to:

Sally K. Gallagher
Department of Sociology
Fairbanks 307
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR 97331
phone: 541-737-5367

Submissions are due January 7, 2002. Finally, the Section for the Sociology of Religion will co-sponsor a session again this year with the Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities. The details of that session will be announced in the next newsletter.

Religion and Globalization

Jim Spickard, University of Redlands

Popular images of "globalization" stress its economic and political character, especially the global reach of transnational corporations that are shifting power away from states’–and thus from citizens’–efforts to control their own fates. In these images, religious organizations respond to globalization, sometimes by supporting anti-global movements (e.g., anti-WTO protests, North/South economic justice efforts, neo-fundamentalisms, etc.) and sometimes by piggybacking their mission efforts on new technologies and new market penetrations (e.g., the Protestant evangelization of Latin America). A second commonly noted attribute of globalization is increased migration, which has also had religious consequences. As proponents of the supply-side approach to religion have noted, at least part of the growth of new religious movements in the U.S. since the 1960s can be traced to changes in immigration laws that admitted Eastern "missionaries" to the heathen Americans. There has also been considerable research on "new immigrant congregations," which appear to serve both as a means of assimilation and as a way of deepening community in a new land.

These stories of religious response to globalization are not false, and we can learn much by seeing how religious groups accommodate themselves to such changed economic, social, and technological surroundings. Yet, to focus only on response leaves important aspects aside.

One: Globalization is as much a fact of consciousness as it is an economic fact; people everywhere, now, see themselves as individuals, possess an image of humanity-at-large, think of the world as a collection of sovereign nation-states, and so on. World-historically speaking, these ideas are new. The growth of worldwide markets as much depends on this consciousness as shapes it. The Weberian question – How have religions helped bring about this development? – is still worth pursuing.

Two: Despite fears of cultural homogenization, localism has not died in a globalized age. Roland Robertson uses the term "glocalization" to describe a globalized world’s increasing heterogeneity. How is contemporary religious heterogeneity both global and local, and what is the balance between the two? Is Mama Lola – to take just one example – Haiti in Brooklyn, Brooklyn in Haiti, or all of us everywhere? Religions are at the forefront of the "glocalization" process.

Three: Globalization fundamentally alters power relationships, both religious and scholarly. Pentecostals in Africa and Brazil share resources with those in the United States, creating transnational networks that support their mystical universe. Swedish Charismatics use anthropological methods, alongside business ones, to understand their mission possibilities. The lines between things have shifted, and many doubt that they will ever have new fixed configurations.

Four: Globalization highlights "religious" processes that extend far beyond church life. One can, for example, analyze human rights in light of the Durkheimian notion that religion gives us a symbolic image of social life. Few symbols are more sacred today, and the three "generations" of those rights – civil/political, economic/social, and group – symbolically represent three conflicting social processes: individuation, the grown of worldwide economic and social networks, and increased localism. (See my forthcoming article in Social Compass.) What can such non-church "religions" tell us about contemporary social life, that the sociology of religion’s traditional emphasis on church doctrines and organizations (belief and belonging) misses? These are but a few of the possible research agendas for the sociology of religion in a globalized age.



Twenty-nine members attended the seventh annual business meeting of the Sociology of Religion Section of the American Sociological Association. Nancy Ammerman, Chair, opened the meeting at 1:30 p.m., greeting those present.

After the 2000 business meeting minutes, published in the Section newsletter, were approved unanimously, Ammerman reported on the activities of the 2001 program committee. She thanked James Cavendish, Patricia Chang and Michael Emerson who served with her on this committee for putting together some really wonderful sessions with good response and discussion. She then turned to Rhys Williams, the incoming Chair, who by Section rules also chairs the 2002 program committee, to describe what he has planned for next August. Williams reported that he and other committee members (John Evans, Sally Gallagher, and Richard Wood) are in the process of developing sessions to reflect the ASA theme: Ascription and Allocation Processes.

Ammerman congratulated those elected from the slate put together by the 2000-2001 nominations committee chaired by Pat McNamara (with members Robert Beckley, Loretta Morris, and Milagros Pena). The winners are Michele Dillon as Chair-elect, Bill Silverman for Secretary-Treasurer, Dan Olson and Milagros Pena for Council. Melissa Wilde was elected Student Member. This is the first year that the Student Member has been an elected rather than appointed for this one year term position. Ammerman thanked Marie Cornwall and Katherine Meyer, whose three-year Council terms have ended, for their services to the Section. Ammerman asked that persons suggest names to the 2001-2002 nominations committee, which as the by-laws prescribe, she will be chairing (with Penny Becker, Roger Finke, and Pat Wittberg as committee members).

Awards were presented at the Section reception the previous evening to outstanding contributors to the sociology of religion, in three award categories. Rodney Stark and Roger Finke won the book award for Acts of Faith: Explaining the Human Side of Religion, University of California Press, 2000. (The book award committee chaired by Mansoor Moaddel included Arthur Greil and Marion Goldman). There were in effect six winners who co-authored the best article: Brian Steensland, Jerry Z. Park, Mark D. Regnerus, Lynn D. Robinson, W. Bradford Wilcox, and Robert D. Woodberry, The Measure of American Religion: Toward Improving the State of the Art, Social Forces, September 2000. (The article award committee, chaired by Harriet Hartman, included Benton Johnson and Helen Berger.) Rebecca J. Culyba, Northwestern University, won the student paper award for Who Can Find A Virtuous Woman?: Gender, Ideology and Culture in a Black Holiness Church. (Nancy Eisland chaired the student paper award committee, which included David Yamane and John Evans.) Ammerman announced that the information about the upcoming awards for next year, how and to whom to make nominations, would be in the Section newsletter, in ASA Footnotes, as well as on the Section web site.

Ammerman noted that the Section web site, developed this year primarily by Madeleine Cousineau, is a good resource to people in the sociology of religion. The Section web site includes all issues of the newsletters, the awards, and other kinds of business we do as a Section, as well as important information about such matters as: Who gives money to people who study sociology of religion? What kinds of grants are out there? The Council had voted an official commendation of thanks to Cousineau for her very valuable work this year on the Section web site. In regard to another web site related matter, the Council also voted to officially endorse members’ participation in submitting their names and bibliographic information to an On-Line Sociology of Religion Directory being assembled at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Hartford Seminary. This directory of sociologists of religion and their work, carefully indexed, will be particularly used and valued by the news media.

Jerry Pankhurst, chair of the membership committee, reported earlier to Council that the membership was down slightly from last year, as is the membership of ASA in general. Although the Section has membership well in range of maintaining the number of sessions we currently have, Ammerman urged that all Section members think of colleagues who ought to be part of the Section and invite them to join. Having a robust membership, she pointed out, is one way we maintain our visibility and our presence in the larger association. The Council voted to change the dues structure slightly, Ammerman reported, in dropping the low-income dues category. The rate of $12 for regular members and $5 for student members remains unchanged.

The secretary-treasurer, Adair Lummis, handed out sheets giving the final accounting of the income and expenditures for the 2000 budget, the income and expenditures to date for the 2001 budget, and the 2002 budget approved by Council, which needed the approval of the Business meeting. In 2000, Rod Stark sent a check directly to the student winner to cover travel and other expenses in attending ASA, and it is our understanding that this is also his intention for 2001 and 2002 as well. Starks off book gift to the student winner helps the Section cover the costs of plaques in the Awards Category for this year and the next. In the approved budget for 2001, the Section expected to go over our revenue income by $500 for "section development," taking this expense out of our carry-over from 2000 (final 2000 carry-over $1,402.26). The section development line has not and will not be spent in 2001. By December 31st, the other budgeted expenses for 2001 will come very close to the amount estimated. Lummis presented the draft budget for 2002. In this 2002 budget there is also a $500 increase in expenses proposed over revenues anticipated. The $500 expense over income would be taken out of carryover funds. In allocating this $500, it was proposed to add $100 directly to the newsletter expenses" line, and leave $400 as needed for section development" expenses. Part of the section development anticipated for next year, might also involve finding ways to make the newsletter a recruitment tool. Adding this cost will still leave approximately $1,000 carry-over from 2002 to 2003.

Discussion about the proposed budget focused on ways that money possibly could be saved, particularly with the slight decline in members. Rhys Williams reported that ASA is considering giving a higher proportion of the dues collected back to the sections, which is likely to offset any decrease from somewhat fewer members in total revenue allocated. The possibilities mentioned last year of saving money by publishing one to three newsletter issues only on the web site, or mailing hard copy issues just to some who requested the option, was raised again this year. The answer given was that mailing some hard copies and not others through ASA really does not save money. Further, there seems to be a substantial number who do not wish to read the newsletter on the web, and hard copies of the newsletter may be used in future membership recruitment mailings. Ammerman suggested that the Section try to gage broader membership opinion about this matter over the course of the year. As there was no more discussion about the proposed budget, the motion was made and seconded that it be approved. The 2002 budget was approved without dissent.

In regard to new business, Ammerman reported that Joe Tamney, the newsletter editor for the past year, wishes to retire this year. She thanked him on behalf of the Section for the wonderful job he has done in increasing our visibility through the content of the newsletter and efficiently getting the newsletter through the system into the mail and on to the web. Ammerman then introduced the new Chair, Rhys Williams.

According to Section by-laws, the Chair will appoint a new newsletter editor in consultation with the Council. Rhys Williams asked for suggestions for possible editors, including self-nominations by anyone interested in taking up this mantle. He recounted the discussion in Council about the possibility of naming the Section awards for scholars who have been founders of the field of sociology of religion, and asked for comments and suggestions during the year on this topic. Helen Rose Ebaugh suggested that Section members also be encouraged to name others in the sociology of religion for the general ASA awards for teaching and scholarship, since that is another way to get religion into the ASA!

Williams thanked Nancy Ammerman for her service as Chair during a particularly trying year when ASA went from a five-day to a four-day annual meeting. She handled these and other challenges very well. The business meeting was adjourned at 2:10 p.m.

Respectfully submitted.
Adair T. Lummis, Secretary-Treasurer
ASA Section on the Sociology of Religion


Book Award

Winner: Acts of Faith: Explaining the Human Side of Religion, by Rodney Stark and Roger Finke

Article Award

Winner: "The Measure of American Religion: Toward Improving the State of the Art" (Social Forces, September, 2000) by Brian Steensland, Jerry Z. Park, Mark D. Regnerus, Lynn D. Robinson, W. Bradford Wilcox and Robert D. Woodberry

Student Paper Award
Winner: "Who Can Find a Virtuous Woman? Gender Ideology and Culture in a Black Holiness Church" by Rebecca Culyba, Northwestern University




The Social Science Research Council's Program on Philanthropy and the Nonprofit Sector offers up to 7 fellowships of $18,000 each for graduate students in the social sciences and humanities who apply their knowledge of the theories and methods of their disciplines to issues concerning philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. Deadline for application is December 1, 2001 for the 2002-2003 awards. Further information and application materials can be found at


The Women's Studies in Religion Program at Harvard Divinity School, provides fellowships for Research Associates who are studying topics related to the history and function of gender in religious traditions, the institutionalization of gender roles in religious communities, and the interaction between religion and the personal, social, and cultural situations of women. Projects that attend to the interaction of gender with race, ethnicity, and culture in addressing these research priorities are of special interest. The position carries a stipend of $40,000 plus benefits and requires fulltime residence at the School. Associates must have a completed PhD and participate in a regular colloquium, teach one course during the year, and give a public lecture in the spring. Applications are due by November 15. Materials are available at



Stephen Hart. Cultural Dilemmas of Progressive Politics: Styles of Engagement Among Grassroots Activists. University of Chicago Press, 2001.

Stephen Sharot. A Comparative Sociology of World Religions. New York University Press, 2001.


Stephen Ellingson, Nelson Tebbe, Martha Van Haitsma, Edward Laumann. 2001. "Religion and the Politics of Sexuality." Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 30: 3-55.


Madeleine Cousineau has been named Chair of the Social Science Department at Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts.

Mystery Author Revealed!

The essay about the Polis Center in our last issue was written by Elfriede Wedam. My apologies Elfriede for failing to acknowledge your authorship.


Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Hartford Seminary, is creating a publicly accessible online database of social scientists who study religion. Linked to this database will be a bibliographic database (contributed primarily by Tony Blasi) containing more than 35,000 records and further linked to hundreds of online articles. The bibliography will be online by the fall 2001 SSR/RRA meeting. You can view the current directory and other sociology of religion resources at

At our site,, we currently have a listing of 125 social science scholars of religion with links to their public web pages. We would like to include every academically qualified social researcher of religion in our listing. Inclusion will be voluntary and will depend on each scholar’s initiative in keeping his or her information current. We understand that some persons will choose not to be included and that others may choose not to provide full contact information.

We believe that those who choose to participate will find that inclusion is more than worth the effort in making scholarly and press access possible, accurate, and informed. An on-line form will be provided that will include questions about the subject areas in which each scholar specializes and about which they are willing to talk to the press. And each entry will be linked to all of that person’s publications contained in the bibliography.

If you desire to be a part of this publicly accessible resource, please contact Scott Thumma at We greatly appreciate your participation in this effort.


Would you have any interest in exploring the idea of writing/cowriting a sociology of religion text? As you may know, Roxbury is now one of the fastest growing independent college presses in sociology. Our authors include Beth Hess, Peter Stein, Randy Collins, Evelyn Nakato Glenn, Laura Kramer, Dana Vannoy, Jack Levin, Gary Alan Fine, Kathleen Charmaz, Dan Miller, Marilyn Ihinger-Tallman, Rose Brewer, David Snow, Doug McAdam, Judith Lorber, Paula Dubeck, Claire Renzetti, Peter Kivisto, Mark LaGory, Elizabeth Markson, Stephen Kalberg, William Schwab, Ronald Akers, and Frank Scarpitti. If you have any interest in exploring this, I look forward to hearing from you. If not, is there anyone whom you recommend I approach? Thank you. Sincerely, Claude Teweles, Publisher and President of Roxbury Publishing Co (Tel. (310) 473-3312; Website:


The section has been fortunate to have strong slates of candidates in recent years, but we depend on help from all the members to make that possible. Late in the fall, we will be asking members to stand for election in 2002 for three offices:

  • Chair-Elect
  • Member of council (2 positions for 3-year terms)
  • Student member of council (1 position for a 1-year term)

If you would be interested in serving or know someone you think would be especially qualified, please contact a member of the Nominating Committee:

Nancy Ammerman, chair (
Roger Finke (
Patricia Wittberg (
Penny Becker (

For up-to-date information on the Section’s activities, you can visit anytime on the Internet


Joseph B. Tamney
Ball State University
Department of Sociology
2000 W. University Ave.
Muncie, IN 47306

Fax: 765-285-8980


Assistant Editor:
Ross Davis



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