Ex-Evangelical Research Round-Up
Many of us who have abandoned Evangelicalism for greener pastures went through a period in which we felt like we were utterly alone. The stress on conformity in fundamentalist environments can really make us feel like aberrations when we begin to question the beliefs or practices of our community. The reality, though, is that just outside of our bubble, people all over the Christian world are going through a similar experience.
To curate this research, I am using Google Alerts and Science Direct Alerts, as well as subscribing to resources such as PEW and PRRI. Please note that this list isn’t exhaustive by any means. I decide what to include somewhat arbitrarily so, if there is important research that you think is consistently left out, please bring it to my attention. And now, without further ado, I give you some of the most interesting findings from January 2018…
Church Clarity is an organization that has recently arisen to encourage churches to be explicit about their positions on certain doctrines, at this time specifically regarding the full inclusion of LGBT+ people in the life of the church. Recently, the organization released its Church Clarity 100 report, containing an analysis of the 100 largest churches in America. Results included the revelations that none of these mega churches are explicitly LGBT+ affirming, only 7 are led by a person of color (while people of color are 38% of the US population), and only 1 is led by a female pastor (who is a co-pastor with her husband).
In the Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies, Tonya Vander analyzed the impacts of the Biblical Patriarchy Movement (BPM) on Evangelical Christian Homeschoolers (ECHS) and found that, with the BPM emphasizing strict gender roles, there was quite a bit of diversity among ECHS families with regard to rules about dress and dating but almost universal agreement on adherence to teaching sexual abstinence.
In the Journal of Environmental Psychology, Benjamin Meagher conducted a study measuring the characteristics that lead to satisfaction of a worship space and found a several interesting things. More importantly, though, the author discusses some fascinating scales that have been developed to measure religious orientation and attitudes (such as the distinctions between intrinsic, extrinsic, and question orientations as well as an official scale measuring religious fundamentalism).
In Society and Mental Health, Matthew May analyzed longitudinal data to determine the effect of religious affiliation on mental health, finding that people who considered leaving religion (but ended up staying) had more depressive symptoms than those who never considered leaving, those who left, and those who were never involved.
In World Development, Aliza Forman-Rabinovici and Udi Sommer examined the impact of religious affiliation on views about reproductive rights around the world, concluding that “degree of religiosity correlates with restrictive abortion policy” but that the effect does not hold across all religious denominations.
In Religion Dispatches, Deborah Jian Lee wrote about how Christians of color are exploring Christian mysticism in ways that are more redemptive for their cultural heritage than what they’ve found in mainline (white) Christianity.
In the University of Derby Online Research Archive, Malcolm Schofield developed a scale for measuring personality differences four different categories of people with supernatural beliefs: believers, paranormal believers, skeptics, and religious believers.
In Educational Review, Yvette Taylor and Karen Cuthbert discussed the results of qualitative research on the experience of queer youth in religious schools, advising that schools implement structural changes to the “heteronormativity and gender binarism” bias in the existing educational experience.
PEW Research reported that a majority (57%) of Americans support legalized abortion, although a large minority (40%) do not. Retrieving data from its 2014 Religious Landscape Study, PEW showed the vast disparity among different religious groups in their position on whether abortion should be legal in “all or most cases,” with Unitarian Universalists, Atheists, and Agnostics being most in favor of legalized abortion and Assemblies of God, Church of God, and Jehovah’s Witnesses being least in favor of it.
In Religions, Mary Jo Iozzio wrote an essay exploring current work and future opportunities of religious institutions working with disability advocacy groups to build a more inclusive religious environment and a more just society for disabled people (“people with disabilities”).