“Ideology and Recruitment in Religious Groups”
Ebaugh, Helen Rose Fuchs and Sharron Lee Vaughn. “Ideology and Recruitment in Religious Groups.” Review of Religious Research 26, no. 2 (December 1984): 148–57.
Ebaugh and Vaughn interviewed 50 members each from three faith communities in Houston, Texas (Catholic Charismatics, Christian Scientists, and Baha’is) to examine the types of social ties effective in recruitment and how these interact with the different group ideologies. Catholic Charismatics emphasized the gifts of the spirit (baptism, conversion, glossolalia), were more socially isolated, and had strong emotional group ties. Therefore 78% of Catholic Charismatic interviewees did not have friends in the group before joining, having become members through active proselytizing. Christian Science and Baha’i were defined as ‘Gnostic sects’ focusing on their ‘esoteric teachings.’ They were less socially isolated, more conventional, less spontaneous, and with formal admission procedures. For Baha’is, proselytizing was a membership requirement defined not denominationally, but as working for the universal principles of world peace and unity. Christian Scientists were exhorted to be exemplary citizens of the world, but membership mostly came through pre-existing friendship ties in their group. Of the 50 Christian Scientist interviewees, 31 were raised in their religion—and the remainder mostly recruited by spouse or close friends. Recruitment happened, not by proselytizing, but through “intimate, personal contact with members …[where] religious identity was revealed” (155).
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