Master's Theses

Date of Award

Fall 1975

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Sociology

Advisor

Newell Razak

Abstract

Sociology, from the time of Durkhelm and Weber, has been intrigued, mystified and frustrated by the continued existence of organized religion in a historical era which claims to be rational and secular. Moore (1963) typifies the sociologists' dilemma as he notes the consequences in social structure caused by modernization. Contemporary industrialized society, holding secularized attitudes encouraged by the “institutionalization of rationality," finds that rational orientations are not always wholly satisfactory for handling all of the problems of individual lives and some form of religious orientation has exhibited a hardy power of survival. This thesis results from research which sought to determine the factors, or as Moore says, the problems in individual lives, which cause members of a secular rational society to seek the supposedly non-rational orientation of religion found in religious organizations. One approach to the phenomenon of the continued survival of religious orientation in secular society is to raise the question, “What function and/or positive consequences does religious belief and/or involvement in church activities have or seem to have to men in modern, secular societies?” This approach is prominent in contemporary sociological theories of religion, as will be shown in the first chapter, where three such theories are presented. This thesis attempts to ascertain the extent to which there is a relationship between certain stressful life situations and involvement in and support of church activities. The second chapter sketches the role of the Christian Church in tension with other social institutions, past and present. Research was conducted which attempted to determine the consequences to the church, in terms of the involvement and allegiances of its own members, of the church's attempts to reform society through activist programs. This research was conducted by surveying members of the Episcopal Church in Western Kansas. Questions were asked of the church members, which operationalized the factors thought to have an effect on involvement in church activity. A question was also asked which tested the relationship between the church members' perception of the church's socially activist role and their own level of involvement. No attempt was made in the research to test the Ideological understanding and commitment of the respondents. While there may possibly be some connection between the ideological understanding and the religious behavior reported by the respondents, it was not the purpose of the research to examine, test or predict in the area of ideology or theology. The data gathered were concerned with stress situations and consequent religious behavior. The hypotheses presented in Chapter IV identify independent variables thought to be operating in a cause and effect relationship with the dependent variable, involvement in church activity. Change in the several variables served as the necessary test to determine and analyze causal relationships between the independent variables and the dependent variable.

Rights

Copyright 1975 Richard Harwood Moses

Comments

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