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An Assessment on Religion Switching

Recently sociologists of religion have adopted a strategy of "mapping" which analyzes "the social construction of reality" as a means for establishing a group identity and social location (Marty, 1976, 3). Herberg's classical study, Protestant, Catholic, Jew published in 1955, asserted that religious affiliation provided social identity and locus regardless of practice. The psychological investigation of identity formation researched by Erik Erikson contended that an "identity crisis" forced a redrawing of one's personal map, often associated with re-examining one's religious position (Marty, 1976, 8). Kurt Lewin formulated a theory of "the uncertainty of belongingness" suggesting that the identity shaped by one's birth status and family's social and religious affiliations might prove inadequate and even debilitating over one's normal lifespan (Marty, 1976, 9). Echoing Lewin's observation that the modern self feels increasingly uncomfortable in a pluralist society severed from traditional ties and relational bonding practices, Erich Fromm theorized that "group isolation" results in the experience of radical insecurity where one is subject to the realization embedded in despair over "one's powerlessness and insignificance" (Fromm in Marty, 1976, 9).

After reviewing these sociological observations about the increase in confusion over personal, social, and even national identity, Marty asserts that "The American religious versions of groupings and tribalism have not issued in armed conflict as have the inherited and reaffirmed alternatives in much of the world" (Marty, 1976, 11). Thomas Luckmann's research would support Marty's assertion by arguing that Americans largely experience their faith as an "invisible religion", that is, as a "private affair" to be experienced "individualistically" and "in isolation" (Luckmann in Marty, 1976, 15). Denominational switching appears to be part of a psychic process of moving away from this p...

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An Assessment on Religion Switching. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:20, November 25, 2015, from
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