ARDA Dictionary
  • Secular:Someone or something not identified as religious or spiritual (Esposito et al. 2012b: 27).
  • Secularization:1) The process of a group or individual discarding religious beliefs and practices. 2) Sociologists also refer to a society being secularized when religion loses its public presence. 3) A theory about the eventual decline of religion due to modernity (i.e. science, economic development, pluralism, etc.), which is debated among social scientists (Reid et al. 1990: 1069-1070).
  • Secular Humanism:The lack of connection, or desire to connect to the transcendent, the sacred, God or the supernatural (Koenig et al. 2012: 47). It is a philosophy that involves beliefs, behavior and relationships valued by their own intrinsic merit. In this way, humans are believed to be capable of good without the need to believe in God or the divine. Secular humanists often are categorized, along with atheists and agnostics, as “non-religious” given they do not see the need for religion in instilling morality in society.
  • Sacralization:The process through which there is little differentiation between religious and secular institutions, and the primary aspects of life, from family to politics, are suffused with religious symbols, rhetoric and rituals (Stark and Finke 2000: 199).
  • Antinomianism:1) The belief that certain religious allegiances exempt one from following secular law. 2) The belief that secular laws ought to be disobeyed because they are evil (Smith 1995: 53). 3) A theological position in which subjective elements of Christianity are emphasized over objective elements of Christianity, like moral law. The famous "Antinomian Controversy" took place in the 1630s, where Anne Hutchinson was brought to trial in Massachusetts for claiming to follow her direct revelation of the Holy Spirit instead of Scripture alone. She was banished from the colony in 1638 (Reid et al. 1990: 69).
  • Conservative Protestantism:A broad social category of Protestantism that advocates a conservative theological position (e.g., the inspiration of the Bible, the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, etc.). Conservative Protestants are often subdivided into Evangelical Protestants and Fundamentalists, who differ in terms of their engagement with the secular non-Christian world.
  • Smith, Adam (1723-1790):Adam Smith was a Scottish philosopher and pioneer of political economics. He is well known for The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), often known just as Wealth of Nations . The latter not only is considered one of the first modern works of economics, but it also laid the foundation for economic theories of religion. In Wealth of Nations , he argues that clergy, much like secular producers, are motivated by self-interest. He also highlights the ways in which market forces constrain churches just as they do secular organizations. Finally, and perhaps most noteworthy, he argued that state regulation of religion and religious monopolies were harmful to religious vitality and produced more social conflict. These ideas underlie popular economics of religion theories, including rational choice theory and religious economies theory (see Finke and Stark 1992; Stark and Finke 2000).
  • Postmillennialism:The belief that the return of Christ will take place after the millennium, which may be a literal period of peace and prosperity or else a symbolic representation of the final triumph of the gospel. This new age will come through Christian teaching and preaching on earth. This view is often dismissed by critics as a Christian version of the secular idea of progress, but it was actually formulated by Puritan theologians (Reid et al. 1990: 919).
  • Social Network Theory:Studies of conversion, religious schisms and secularization utilize social network theory to understand the influence of community and networks on the religious life of individuals, groups and societies. In his classic study of suicide, Emile Durkheim used religion as an indicator of how well or poorly a society was socially integrated (Durkheim 1897). Other research indicates that religion actively builds social networks (Bainbridge 2006).
  • Anti-Semitism:Unreasoning hostility toward and discrimination against the Jews. It can range from a formal doctrine and from mild antipathy to active efforts to kill the Jews. German writer Wilhelm Marr coined the term in 1880 to distinguish between secular hatred for the Jews as a people and hatred toward the Jewish religion, although the modern usage of the word denotes hatred for the Jews and Judaism in all forms (Smith and Green 1995: 53).
  • Demand-Side Model of Religion:Demand-side models of religion emphasize that changes in religious demand impact religious participation or vitality in society (Olson 2011). For example, religion may be in demand during times of greater stress or national trauma and perhaps in less demand over time due to secularization (see Bruce 2002). This perspective is heavily challenged by supply-side theories of religion (see Supply and Demand, Religious).
  • Brain Drain (Religion):In the context of religion, it refers to the departure of highly productive/skilled members from religious groups. This may occur in communes because the demand for sharing resources equally may have an adverse effect on members who see themselves as more productive than others (Abramitzky 2011). The religious application of “brain drain” derives from secular theories of human capital flight, which focuses on the migration patterns of highly skilled or educated individuals across countries.
  • Counseling, Religious:A type of counseling that incorporates religious teachings to serve mental health needs. Many clients are already religious, although counselors may reach out to those nominally religious, homeless or poor. Depending on the particular faith group, counseling may incorporate prayer, meditation or scripture reading. Some forms of religious counseling may be completely faith-based, while others may incorporate secular therapeutic practices (Koenig, King and Carson 2012: 56-57).
  • Supply-Side Model of Religion:Supply-side models of religion suggest that changes in religious markets impact religious participation or vitality in society. Specifically, the number of religious organizations, services, and settings play an important role in religious participation (Olson 2011). Stark and Finke (1992) argue that the unregulated religious economy in the United States historically allowed the supply of religions to match the high demand for religion. This perspective is debated by demand-side theories of religion, like secularization theory (see Supply and Demand, Religious).
  • Religious Extremism:Religious groups that tend to be strict, demanding of their members, small, high-cost, suspicious of other groups, and critical of secular society. Extremist groups expect members to conform to the values and accepted behaviors of the group or risk penalties, including expulsion (Iannaccone and Berman 2006). Despite the high demands, extremist groups tend to have stronger social ties and group identification, as the high demands tend to scare away weaker members and reinforce unique social identities (Iannaccone 1992; Stark and Finke 2000). Religious extremist groups are sometimes referred to as “sects.”
  • Denominational Continuum:A spectrum of denominational characteristics that range from “extremist” religious groups with high demands of sacrifice on one side, and “lenient” groups that demand little of their members on the other side. The “extremist” groups tend to be exclusive, strict, small, and suspicious of others, while the “lenient” groups tend to be inclusive, less costly, larger, and more tolerant of secular values. It is suggested that a denominational continuum exists within each religious tradition (e.g., Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc.), and that groups on a certain side of the spectrum will share similar social characteristics even if their history and theology differ (Iannaccone and Berman 2006).
  • Post-hoc Scales:The development of multi-item scales from a secondary analysis of existing data. For example, 16 years after the 1963 Survey of Northern California Church Bodies, Rodney Stark, one of the original principal investigators, returned to the data in order to refine conceptions of sectarian tension, the extent to which religious groups distance themselves from secular norms. Several items relevant to this issue were included in the original questionnaire, which he, along with William Bainbridge, developed into a multi-item scale of sectarian tension. It is generally best to do this on the basis of theory, although at times a more empirical approach may be appropriate. (Statistical Term)
  • Cognitive Consistency:As influentially stated by Leon Festinger (1957), humans are theorized to have a natural need to form coherent mental models of the world, and thus they will exert effort to resolve any contradiction between two beliefs, or between a belief and a behavior. Festinger explicitly connects these abstract ideas to religion through the example of the Great Disappointment of 1843-1844, when William Miller's prediction of the Second Coming was apparently disconfirmed. The theory of cognitive consistency predicts that people will join together to defend their beliefs against disconfirmation, perhaps resulting in religious innovation, like a new religious group or a reconciliation between religious ideas and potentially contradictory secular ideas
  • Supply and Demand, Religious:Supply-side and demand-side approaches to religious participation offer two competing perspectives for changing religious landscapes. The “demand-side” theories suggested that religion is in demand during times of greater stress or national trauma and perhaps will be less demanded over time due to secularization (see Bruce 2002). “Supply-side” theories, including religious economies models, suggest the supply of religion, number of religious organizations, services, and settings play an important role in religious participation. Stark and Finke (1992) argue that the unregulated religious economy in the United States historically allowed the supply of religions to match the demand for religion, which they suggest is prevalent in all societies. Olson (2011: 137) notes that it is very difficult to distinguish which of the two causal scenarios is most correct.
  • Azzi–Ehrenberg Model of Religious Activity:Based on the work of Azzi and Ehrenberg (1975), this economic model treats church attendance and religious contributions as a special form of household production, involving trade-offs between time and money inputs, secular versus religious outputs, and present versus afterlife utility (Iannaccone and Berman 2018). The Azzi–Ehrenberg model predicts that religious activity increases with age (in anticipation for the afterlife) and that households with high value of time (high wages) will substitute goods (religious contributions) for time in producing religious activity. Some question the assumptions behind the aging effect given how religious activity tends to increase with age even among those who do not believe in the afterlife (Ulbrich and Wallace 1983), but the assumptions underlying religious substitution (between time and money) are more widely accepted (see Religious Substitution Theory )
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