American Sociological Association Section on

Sociology of Religion


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Spring 2002 Newsletter

Volume VIII, Number 3 - Spring 2002


From the Chair
News from China
Preliminary Program
Book Proposals
Job Opportunities
Youth and Religion

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,


Fenggang Yang

China provides a distinct or unique setting for the understanding of religion in society. Just about three decades ago, all religions were banned under the radical Communist regime, but now all kinds of religions are thriving while the society is experiencing rapid industrialization, urbanization, suburbanization, marketization, democratization, and globalization. Unfortunately, empirical research on contemporary religions in China is rare. Few Chinese sociologists study religion, and almost all scholars of religious studies are in humanities. It is even difficult to find qualified research assistants.

From mid-December 2001 to mid-January 2002 I taught a graduate course "Sociology of Religion" at the People’s University of China, Beijing. To jump-start empirical research, I bypassed classic theories and adopted as the sole textbook the Acts of Faith by Stark and Finke (2000), which offers a succinct summary of the new paradigm and 100 testable propositions. During that period I also gave a lecture on the major differences between the old and new paradigms at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, where scholars responded with excitement about the empirical research-based new paradigm. The interest in the sociology of religion is rising among

young scholars and students in China. Some scholars are enthusiastic about establishing and developing the sociology of religion there. They need help. To do that, I am working with colleagues in China (1) to translate major recent books in the sociology of religion in Western languages into Chinese and publish them in China, and (2) to provide training in theories and empirical research methods to interested scholars and students by holding an annual summer workshop in Beijing, to be taught by established scholars in the U.S. and other countries. I see this as a two-way exchange: while the sociology of religion is being introduced to China, the China case will enrich the theorizing in the sociology of religion. Your input, involvement, and support are solicited. Email: ; phone: 207-780-4754 (until the end of June).



Rhys H. Williams

With all due respect to the New Yorkers, Bostonians, San Franciscans, and St. Louisans among us, this year we meet in America’s greatest city! While not, perhaps, a very profitable place in which to be a baseball fan, Chicago offers incredible riches for those interested in religion, in culture, in immigration, in society and politics, and in sociology. It is a truly "American" place, but increasingly also a world city with a globalized economy and strikingly diverse population. And importantly, it is always a site for successful meetings, given the proximity to the lake and the manageable nature of the Loop. And it ain’t Anaheim . . .

This year the Section on the Sociology of Religion has its section day on the first day of the ASA meetings, Friday August 16. This overlaps with the Association for the Sociology of Religion meetings. While this may give some folks a bit of hectic scheduling, it does mean that August 15 through 17 will be full of opportunities to see people, hear interesting sessions, and participate in our associational life. There will be ASA Section sessions, ASA Regular sessions on religion, ASR sessions, and co-sponsored ASR/ASA sessions. Most of the ASA sessions will be in the Hilton hotel that is next door to the ASR’s Essex Inn. Among the highlights:

  • A jointly sponsored reception with the Association for the Sociology of Religion, pool side at the Essex Inn – with the announcement of this year’s award winners;
  • Paper sessions on "Religion and Inequality" and "Religion and Achieved and Ascribed Identities," as well as a set of roundtable discussions;
  • A jointly sponsored Author-Meets-Critics session with the Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities – discussing Emerson and Smith’s book Divided by Faith;
  • The annual Section business meeting, including the report from the Executive Council (well, okay, perhaps not exactly a highlight, but nonetheless important).

There should be something for everyone – at the meetings, and in the city. I hope you have already made plans to attend, and if not, will now put it on your calendar. It is an important time to bring scholarly perspectives on religion to all parts of the academy, as well as to the wider society. I look forward to the many ways in which we can all help do this at the 2002 Annual Meetings. See you there.


Preliminary Program

ASA Religion Section Sessions

Religion and Inequality

Organizer and Presider: John H. Evans, University of California, San Diego

Asian-American Campus Evangelicals: Negotiating Segregation and Universalism of Religion
Rebecca Kim, University of California, Los Angeles

Cowboys and Schoolteachers: Gender in Christian and Secular Romance Novels
Laura Clawson, Princeton University

We Get by with a Little Help from Our Friends: Formal and Informal Assistance to the Needy
David Cotter, Union College; Joan Hermsen, University of Missouri, Columbia; and Reeve Vanneman, University of Maryland and the National Science Foundation

Networking with God and God's People: Social Capital in Poverty-to-Work Programs
William Lockhart, Baylor University

Discussant: Mark Regnerus, University of Texas - Austin

Religion in Comparative Perspective: Achieved and Ascribed Identities

Organizer: Richard L. Wood, University of Mexico, Albuquerque

Taking Refuge in the Buddha: Ascribed and Achieved Buddhist Identities
Wendy Cadge, Princeton University

The Activation of Ascription: Religious Identities and Reversion to Catholic Orthodoxy
Mary Ellen Konieczny, University of Chicago

Multi-religiosity and ethnicity: Individuals born to One Jewish Parent
Lynn Davidman, Brown University

Overcoming the Instrumental Paradox: Intended Consequences and the Pragmatics of Meaning in Venezuelan Pentecostalism
David Smilde, University of Georgia

Discussant: TBA


Author-Meets-Critics Session

(Co-Sponsored by the Section on the Sociology of Religion and the Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities.)

Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America, Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith (Oxford University Press, 2000).

Organizer and Presider: Rhys H. Williams, University of Cincinnati

Critics: Mark Chaves, University of Arizona
Tyrone Forman, University of Illinois, Chicago
Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, Colby College

Authors: Michael O. Emerson, Rice University
Christian Smith, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


Section Round Tables

Organizer: Sally K. Gallagher, Oregon State University

1) Assessing Jewish Identity

Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in the Study of Jewish Intermarriage
Bruce Phillips,

"If you say you're a Jew, that's good enough for me": Egalitarianism and Ambivalence in Contemporary Jewish Identity
Marianne Cutler,

2) Gender, religion and institutional connectedness

Gendered Attendance Patterns in an African-American Church
Ezell Lundy,

United Methodist Family Values: Give Me that Old Time Religion
Gail Murphy-Geiss,

Above or Alongside? Lesbian Pastors and the Humanistic Egalitarian Ideology of the Ministry
Krista McQueeney,

3) Socialization and the development of the religious self

A New Look at the Relationship Between Religion and Adolescent Self-esteem
Patrick Bennett,

Integrating Faith and Learning Through Teaching Sociology
Lionel Matthews:

To Be or Not to Be: Baptism Decisions of Young Amish Women and Men

Lora Friedrich, (and Joseph F. Donnemeyer)

4) Construction and persistence of religious imagery

The Origins of Charisma as Process: A Case Study of Hildegard of Bingen
Barbara Finlay,

Here Comes Everybody: Anti-racism in Religious Imagery?
Yanick St. Jean,

Confusions of Confucianism: The Emergence of the World Religions Paradigm and the Construction of Confucianism as a Religion, 1870-1916
Anna Sun,

5) Secularization, Religion & the State

Religion, Secularization and Legitimacy
Ejder Okumus,

International Institutions and the Transformation of Religious Markets
Evelyn Bush,

Return to Religion and Redefinition of Community Boundaries: The Case of Shas in Israel
Batia Siebzehner, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Beit Berl College


Joint Section/ASR Sessions

Religion, the Internet, and Society

Organizer and Discussant: Jeffrey K. Hadden, University of Virginia

Organizer and Convener: Lorne L. Dawson, University of Waterloo

Popular Religion and the World Wide Web: A Match Made in (Cyber) Heaven
Christopher Helland, University of Toronto

Religion and the Quest for Virtual Community
Lorne L. Dawson, University of Waterloo

E-space and the Democratization of the Christian Countercult
Douglas Cowan, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Young People, Religious Identity, and CMC
Mia Lovheim, Uppsala University


Regulating Religion: Allocations of Religious Freedom in Contemporary Societies

Organizer and Convener: James T. Richardson, University of Nevada-Reno

Regulating Religion in Australia: Funding Religious Schools, Anti-vilification Legislation and Post-Sept 11 Responses to Religious Diversity
Gary D. Bouma, Monash University

Religious Freedom and Religious Status Allocation: The Case of the Supreme Court of Canada
Pauline Côte, Université Laval

Rights Talk and Cults Talk in Africa: A Recipe for Conflict or Consensus?
Rosalind I.J. Hackett, University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Regulating Religion in Europe: Sociological Comparisons of Selected Societies
James T. Richardson, University of Nevada-Reno


Ascription in New Religions

Organizer and Convener: Eileen Barker, London School of Economics

Discussant: David G. Bromley, Virginia Commonwealth University

Overcoming Ascriptions in New Religious Movements
J. Gordon Melton, University of California-Santa Barbara

Ascription, Religion, and Popular Culture: Fiction and the Social Construction of Ascribed Religious Characteristics—A Case Study of Anti-Mormonism
Massimo Introvigne, CESNUR , Torino, Italy
Michael W. Homer, CESNUR/USA, Salt Lake City

Children, Community, and Commitment: Do Kanterian Mechanisms Apply to the Second Generation?
Susan Palmer, Dawson College, Concordia University


Section members are invited to be guests at the Furfey Lecture by Michael Sells at 6 p.m. and the reception that follows at 7 p.m. on Friday, 16 August.


ASA Sessions on Religion

acial, Ethnic, and Religious Diversity in the United States

Organizer and Presider: James D. Davidson, Purdue University

Religious Diversity in America, 1940-2000
Michael Hout and Claude S. Fischer, University of California-Berkeley

Exploring the Religious Preference of Recent Immigrants to the United States: Evidence from the New Immigrant Survey Pilot
Guillermina Jasso, New York University; Douglas S. Massey, University of Pennsylvania;

Mark Rowenzweig, University of Pennsylvania; and James P. Smith, Rand Corporation
Religious Intermarriage in the United States: Trends, Patterns, and Predictors
Darren Sherkat, Southern Illinois University

Race in American Evangelicalism: A Racial Formation Analysis
Antony Alumkal, Iliff School of Theology


Conflict and Change in Religious Organizations

Organizer and Presider: James D. Davidson, Purdue University
Reconstructing Religion: A Sociological Analysis of Vatican II
Melissa Wilde, University of California-Berkeley

The U.S. Abortion Conflict and the Transformation of Catholic Political Culture
Perry Chang, University of St. Thomas

Are Conservative Churches Critical Voices in American Culture?
Elfriede Wedam, The Polis Center, Indiana University/Purdue University-Indianapolis

Clergy-Congregation Mismatches and Clergy Job Satisfaction
Charles Mueller, University of Iowa
Elaine McDuff, Truman State University


Personal Religion and Public Policy

Organizer and Presider: James D. Davidson, Purdue University

Abortion Attitudes: The Impact of Religion
Mathieu Deflem and Christoph Weismayer, Purdue University

Religion, Cultural Change, and Altruism in American Society
Michele Dillon, University of New Hampshire

Religion and School Vouchers as a Political Issue
Stephen Johnson and Joseph Tamney, Ball State University

Religion, Gender, and Work: The Experience of Low-Income Women
Susan Crawford-Sullivan, Cambridge, MA

In addition, Harriet Hartman has organized a session on "The Construction of Being Jewish."



Praeger/Greenwood Press has initiated an exciting new book series on Lived Religion in America. The Press is committed to publishing high quality analyses of any aspect of religion or spirituality that sheds light on the diversity of experiences and practices that characterize American religion. Book proposals are invited that focus on either contemporary or historical themes. Please direct inquiries and/or proposals to the Series Editor, Michele Dillon, at the Department of Sociology, University of New Hampshire, Durham NH 03824; email:



Baylor University has made a major institutional commitment to its Department of Sociology and its Ph.D. program. Four new tenured or tenure-track positions will be filled in the next one to two years. Further program expansion is anticipated in subsequent years. At least two of the near-term positions will be in the sociology of religion area. Successful candidates can expect very competitive salaries, excellent benefits including tuition for dependents, and a teaching assignment consisting of no more than two courses per semester. Advertisement of specific positions will commence in the summer of 2002. In the interim, qualified individuals with interest in the sociology of religion are encouraged to inquire: Prof. Charles M. Tolbert, II, Chair, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Baylor University, Waco, TX 76798-2396,


A team of sociologists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, under the leadership of Dr. Christian S. Smith, professor of sociology and associate chair of the Sociology Department, has received a major grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc., to conduct the first comprehensive national survey of the influence of religion and spirituality in the lives of American teenagers.

This 4-year project began in August 2001 and will continue until August 2005. It marks the first major national baseline study and descriptive mapping of the religious practices of American youth and combines a national telephone survey of 3,850 American youth and parents with 350 personal, in-depth interviews with a sub-sample of surveyed youth. The survey is designed to reach representative samples of diverse cultural groups including African-Americans, Latinos, and Jewish youth, and will be conducted in English and Spanish, as needed.

Project Co-Investigators include Dr. Michael Emerson, associate professor of Sociology at Rice University, Houston; Dr. Mark Regnerus, assistant professor of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin; Dr. David Sikkink, assistant professor of Sociology, Notre Dame University, South Bend, Ind.; and Dr. Lisa Pearce, who will be joining the UNC faculty as assistant professor of Sociology this fall.

UNC graduate student researchers are Kraig Beyerlein, Bob Faris, Sara Haviland, Philip Kim, Demetrius Semien and Mark Constantine. Melinda Lundquist Denton, UNC Sociology Ph.D. graduate student, is the project manager. Roxann L. Miller serves as the project’s director of Communication.

For more detailed information, visit



Anthony J. Blasi, Paul-André Turcotte, and Jean Duhaime. Editors. Handbook of Early Christianity: Social Science Perspectives. AltaMira Press, 2002.

Robert L. Montgomery. The Lopsided Spread of Christianity. Westport, CT: Praeger of Greenwoood Publishing Group. 2002.

James V. Spickard, J. Shawn Landres, and Meredith B. McGuire. Editors. Personal Knowledge and Beyond: Reshaping the Ethnography of Religion. New York: NYU Press, 2000.

James Tucker. "New Age Religion and the Cult of the Self." Society. January/February: 46-51, 2002.



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