The Sociology of Conversion

by William Sims Bainbridge

Pp. 178-191 in Handbook of Religious Conversion,
edited by H. Newton Malony and Samuel Southard.
Birmingham, Alabama: Religious Education Press, 1992.

Over a century ago, my great-grandfather set out on a world tour to collect data for what he called a science of missions.[1] By visiting the outposts of American Christianity that had been established in the farthest comers of the globe and by examining closely how each fitted into the exotic surrounding society, he hoped to learn general principles of successful evangelization, applicable at home as well as abroad. Today we might call his research sociology, although this academic discipline was not established in the United States until a decade after he published his book. His task is far from finished even today, and a sociological analysis of conversion remains incomplete and partial.

The sociologist, for example, must leave out the divine half of the equation. Social science has no tool to research the supernatural, and it must leave to theologians an analysis of how deity chooses to interact with humanity. And sociologists have not always done the best possible job in understanding the social side of conversion, either, occasionally projecting individual prejudices and political biases onto a topic that deserved objective scientific scrutiny. Still, there has been progress in my field, and I shall outline the chief debates in terms of the evidence collected to date.

At the present time, two alternative sociological theories compete to explain religious conversion. According to strain theory, persons join a religion in order to satisfy conventional desires that unusual personal or collective deprivations have frustrated. According to social influence theory, persons join a religion because they have formed social attachments with persons who are already members and because their attachments to nonmembers are weak. Despite their great differences, there is scientific evidence in favor of both of these theories, and the best explanation is probably an informed combination of both.[2]

STRAIN THEORY

Variants of strain theory have been used to explain numerous different social phenomena,[3] and in some form many clergy accept its root idea, the hypothesis that religion has more to offer the poor and oppressed than the rich and powerful. People turn to religion, strain theory holds, because of their relative deprivation.

Sociologists distinguish between absolute deprivation and relative deprivation, and they have given the latter a far greater role to play in their theories.[4] A person suffering absolute deprivation lacks something he objectively needs. For instance, someone dying of a disease lacks good health. A person suffering relative deprivation lacks something that a person in a different status possesses. For example, the poor do not have the wealth and power of the elite in their society.

Several questions need to be answered about the standard against which deprivation is judged before one can apply the concept rigorously. Should relative deprivation be defined as having less than the average person in society? Less than a typical middle-class person? Less than a rich and powerful person? Or is the proper standard the kind of life that the individual in question could live if not beset by unusual calamity? If so, a poor person whose life was stable and trouble-free would not be deprived while a rich person beset by chaos and confusion would be.

The usual sociological solution to this problem is to focus on the factors that can make a person feel deprived. Among these is the perception that other people in society have more. Another factor is the experience of having had more in the past, oneself. Another is the images the culture presents of what a person could or should have. And an important role may also be played by social movements, often of a political or religious kind, that seek to convince people they deserve more than they currently have. Logically, some of these factors may produce a feeling of deprivation even among the rich and powerful in society, but sociologists have generally assumed that the most crucial factors in fostering a sense of deprivation were societal inequalities, causing whole classes of people to feel they have experienced a raw deal compared to more favored classes.

The natural response to relative deprivation is to seek to get what other people have, either through an individual career or political action. If the deprivation is extreme enough that the individual lacks the resources to achieve career success, or if the economic system is rigid enough to prevent it, then the person must turn to politics. According to some neo-Marxist sociologists, however, many people lack the advanced political awareness to see that political action is the solution, and thus they will turn to the supernatural "false consciousness" of religion.[5] But one does not have to agree with the Marxists to see that many people are unable to overcome their deprivations relative to more fortunate members of society and that these people will suffer continuing frustrations.

Religion offers a way to transcend and transvalue relative deprivation. In heaven, all will be equal and all will be fulfilled. Membership in the religion can be a private badge of status, compensating the individual for lack of status in secular society. From this perspective, those who claim to be born again may be guilty of the sin of pride, but the desire for positive self-esteem is a powerful motivator. In joining a religion, the person adopts an ideology about life that transforms deprivation into a virtue, or at least provides supernatural compensation for it.

The evidence in favor of strain theory mainly concerns radical religious movements, sects rather than mainstream denominations, and a good deal of it is historical. Norman Cohn showed that the millenarian movements of medieval Europe drew their support from deprived groups, often in response to a severe worsening of conditions.[6] The same was found true for traditional American sects.[7] Numerous questionnaire studies have also shown that sect members tend to be deprived relative to members of mainline churches.[8] A study by Rodney Stark and myself compared 110 adult converts to sects with 110 adults who had been born into the same groups, finding that the converts suffered greater deprivation than the lifelong members. For example, 39 percent of converts had attended college, compared with fully 57 percent of nonconverts; 46 percent of converts considered themselves to be of the working class, compared with 37 percent of nonconverts.[9]

Clearly, relative deprivation has something to do with religious affiliation. Sects recruit the relatively deprived. But there is no tendency for religious persons in general to be more deprived than the irreligious members of society, and some evidence exists that church members are actually better off than the average.[10] Therefore, relative deprivation cannot explain conversion in general, although it may explain why certain individuals join certain types of groups.

In their zeal to find class conflict and social inequality behind all social phenomena, many sociologists had ignored the possibility that it was absolute deprivation, not relative, that impelled people toward the churches. A recent analysis by Rodney Stark and myself showed how one could build a rigorous, formal theory of religious commitment based on the principle that all persons are severely deprived in an absolute sense, and thus everybody is a potential convert. Relative deprivation may merely steer individuals toward somewhat different forms of religion.[11]

Indeed, if one considers all the unfulfilled dreams and dashed hopes experienced by even the most fortunate of persons, deprivation seems the essence of the human condition. Logically, all individuals should have powerful motivations to find a faith that transcends the world. The problem thus becomes to explain why many people do not convert. Therefore, adding absolute deprivation to the relative deprivation that has been the key concept in strain theory does not entirely solve its problems, and we shall shortly look to social influence theory for help.

What are the lessons of strain theory for those seeking converts? If the community one wishes to convert is relatively deprived, then one should emphasize those aspects of religion stressed by sects, and several of them are compatible with most religious traditions: constant affirmation of salvation, open expression of emotion, informal services, strong fellowship within the congregation, and a continual sense of spiritual regeneration. Most churches could stand more of these qualities. But if the community to be evangelized is a cross-section of the society, then the traditional emphasis of strain theory on the relatively deprived offers bad advice. The rich and powerful face the same absolute deprivations as the poor and powerless. Individuals in every class will differ in their specific needs, and the evangelist must find a flexible manner of communicating to everybody that their greatest legitimate desires and gravest fears can find an answer in religion.

In consultations with individuals and families, spiritual attention must be given to their particular deprivations, whether absolute or relative. In the congregation or community as a whole, the absolute deprivations need emphasis. We all feel guilt, dread of death, sorrow at the pain of those we love. The Christian tradition has been particularly strong in bridging the gap between the relatively deprived and the advantaged classes. Through it, the fortunate can learn honest sympathy for those less fortunate, and the deprived can appreciate the humanness of those who possess what they lack.

SOCIAL INFLUENCE THEORY

No one doubts that human beings can influence each other, but the job of formalizing this simple insight and determining scientifically exactly how the influence operates has proven a formidable task. Half a century ago, Edwin Sutherland argued that each individual is under the influence of competing cultural patterns, and the individual's behavior will tend to follow the culture from which he receives the most numerous, most powerful, earliest, and most enduring communications.[12] Subsequently, different aspects of this idea gave birth to separate schools of thought which deserve to be reunited: control theory and subculture theory.

Control theory holds that individuals will act in a conventional way, so long as they possess a powerful bond to the conventional social order. This bond consists of attachments to other individuals, investment in a career inside standard societal institutions, constant involvement in conventional activities, and belief in the correctness of the social order. Individuals who lack these ties to conformity will be free to experiment with novel alternatives. From this perspective, the persons most likely to convert to a new religious affiliation are those who have lost connectedness: newlyweds, the divorced, the widowed, freshly independent young adults, those who have just changed jobs, or persons experiencing any other major life disruption whether negative or positive in character.

Subculture theory stresses the role of a group of like-minded people in establishing a distinctive way of thinking and acting. In a group of close friends, if the majority think a particular way about an important matter, the others will soon come to agree with them. Through social interaction, persons repeatedly give each other information, emotions, and material rewards. Although sharp disagreements can cause a group to split in twain, so long as a group holds together powerful forces press members to become similar in thought and action.[13] In religious terms, the subculture is a congregation or a denomination. To accept the tenets of faith one must first become a member of the social group.

If we think of each church as a subculture, then people are not likely to leave one for another, unless for some reason they lack the bonds to make them solid members of the one they are in. If we combine both control theory and subculture theory, much about religious affiliation becomes clear. As control theory states, a person is socially free to join a new religious group only if he lacks strong ties to some other group. As subculture theory states, to convert to a new religion, such a person must develop strong social relations with persons who are already members.

While there are always exceptions to any rule of human behavior, the evidence in favor of these propositions is overwhelming. Studies of small, intense religious groups have repeatedly shown the importance of friendship relationships in drawing new converts.[14] Existing friendships with members draw people in, and friendless folk may be attracted to a group in the first place by the need for friends.[15] Many people convert to a new religion as a result of marrying a person who already has strong faith in it.[16]

Supportive evidence comes from research on two related topics: orthodoxy and apostasy. Data on a range of denominations show that persons whose friendships are primarily within their congregation accept their church's beliefs and practices more fully than do people with many outside friendships.[17] The factor that best explains why some communities have low rates of church membership is geographic mobility, because people who move lose social ties that would keep them within the church.[18]

I tested this last proposition recently in a statistical (multiple regression) study of the percent of the population who were members of churches or other religious organizations, in 288 American metropolitan areas. On average, about half of the residents of these cities were members, but there was great variation. Several competing theories were tested in competition with geographic mobility. For example. Wade Clark Roof had argued that cosmopolitan areas of the country, typically big cities and highly educated areas where the influence of secularization had most severely eroded traditional religious faith, would have the lowest rates of church membership. However, city size and level of education had only the weakest and most ambiguous associations with church membership, indicating that cosmopolitanism was not a significant cause of weakened church affiliation. In contrast, church membership was low where geographic mobility was high, as measured by the percent of residents who had moved in the previous five years.[19]

While the results of that study were quite clear, it had the defect that the data concerned rates for geographic areas rather than the characteristics of individual human beings. Another of my recent studies was based on the 1911 census of Australia, reworking the data so that it was possible to examine the religion and mobility of individuals. Atheists were far more likely to have moved than were Christians. Thus, studies of different kinds using data from different nations and time periods, provide further support for social influence theory.[20]

What are the lessons of social influence theory for those seeking converts? Clearly there should be an emphasis upon fellowship - upon personal relationships linking members. Members of the group should be helped to share their commitment with nonmember friends and relatives. The church should welcome newcomers to the community and others whose social bonds have weakened.

As Dean Kelley has shown, however, it can be fatal to stress the social life of the church to the exclusion of its religious life.[21] Social influence is the medium of transmission of faith, and it can do much to sustain faith. But unless people have a religious yearning, and unless religion offers people something distinctively different from what any social club can give, faith will wither. Here social influence theory needs to borrow from strain theory.

A COMBINED ANALYSIS

Several studies have found evidence for both theories. When John Lofland and Rodney Stark reported that relative deprivation was an essential precondition for conversion to a radical sect, they noted that both development of social bonds with members and a weakness of bonds with outsiders were also required.[22] The model sketched by Lofland and Stark remains the most influential guide to research on the sociology of conversion.

To start with, Lofland and Stark said, a person must experience powerful, enduring frustrations. Also, the person must already believe that the best way to solve deep problems is through religion, but the nagging failure of his present religion to solve them places it under suspicion. The person becomes a religious seeker on a quest for a more satisfactory religious affiliation. The person then reaches a turning point in his/her life, when great changes are in order. At this moment of maximum vulnerability, the individual encounters people who already belong to the religious group. By developing attachments to them, and by losing attachments to others, the person becomes a member himself. Then, intensive interaction with group members brings him to accept the belief system, and thus to become completely converted.

In one set of principles, this model of conversion unites the traditions of strain theory and social influence theory, and its very eclecticism is undoubtedly greatly responsible for the influence it has held over later scholars. Another reason the Lofland-Stark model was so influential was that its authors offered vivid illustrations of how the process worked, in a number of brief life histories. These were drawn from their research on the radical, millenarian religious group called the Unification Church. The concept of strain is well illustrated by the case of Elmer, a frustrated fellow born in North Dakota but brought by his family to a farm near Eugene, Oregon, where the first, tiny branch of the Unification Church was struggling to attract converts.

After high school he flunked out of the university after one semester and spent the next two years in the Army, where he flunked medical technician school. After the Army he enrolled in a nearby state college and again lasted only one semester. He then returned to his parents' farm and took a job in the plywood factory. Elmer conceived of himself as an intellectual and aspired to be a learned man. He undertook to educate himself and collected a large library toward this end. Unfortunately he was virtually illiterate. In addition to more conventional books, he subscribed widely to occult periodicals, such as Fate, Flying Saucers, Search, and so on. He also viewed himself as a practical man of invention, a young Thomas Edison, and dreamed of constructing revolutionary gadgets. He actually began assembling materials for a tiny helicopter for use in herding the cows and a huge television antenna to bring in stations hundreds of miles away. Elmer also had severe interaction problems. He was unable to speak to others above a whisper and looked constantly at his feet while talking. He had great difficulty sustaining a conversation, often appearing to forget what he was talking about.[23]

The Unification Church seemed to provide Elmer with the sense of self-worth and intellectual status he longed for. After joining, he could consider himself the member of an elite, those chosen by God for a great mission, and he possessed knowledge that even university professors lacked - the divine principles of his church's doctrines. In consequence, his social awkwardness was to a great extent cured. He no longer stared at his feet while mumbling responses to what other people said to him; now he was able to look folk in the eye and proudly tell them the truth about God. His case is but one of many reported by Lofland and Stark that illustrate the role that psychological frustration can play in motivating people, and it shows further that membership in a supportive religious group can assuage the strains that impelled conversion, thus producing strong commitment to the church.

In the twenty-five years since Lofland and Stark wrote, many empirical studies and theoretical essays have cast doubt on the necessity of one or another step in their analysis, however. For example, my observational research on The Process Church of the Final Judgment showed that converts had not all suffered enduring frustrations or seen their problems in primarily religious terms.[24] Indeed many came to see their former life as unsatisfactory only after making contact with the Process, and the group did not begin with a religious conception of itself. Although some individuals may go through a series of stages in conversion exactly as outlined by Lofland and Stark, for other people the process may be far less smooth, and conversion may be achieved even when some elements are lacking, as the following case from my own research illustrates:

Hathor was a student at an English art college where she met Christian, a young man who had been studying to be a concert pianist. His older brother was Lucius, a close friend of Micah, who was an intimate friend of Robert de Grimston, founder of The Process. Hathor was drawn into a psychotherapy group called Compulsions Analysis, which subsequently evolved into the Process Church, through this long chain of strong social ties. Robert brought in Micah, who brought in Lucius, who brought in Christian, who brought in Hathor. She had no particular intense life problems. In an interview, she told me, "Nothing dramatic was happening at that point in my life. I wasn't really going through a vast trauma, or anything like that. I was at a crossroads, really, in terms of a career. Would I do teaching? Which I didn't really look forward to with a great deal of pleasure, because with the qualifications I had it would have meant teaching art in grade school. It really didn't excite me terribly. Or should I go on and do further training in order to qualify for a different kind of teaching position? Or should I take up painting? It was a period of indecision. But nothing deep or wrenching."[25]

Clearly, Hathor was not suffering enduring, acutely felt tensions, when she joined the group, as the Lofland/Stark model said she must. Thus, her case does not support strain theory. However, we do see evidence of a turning point in her life, and the influence of social bonds is unmistakable. Enduring personal frustrations, the key idea in strain theory, certainly may facilitate conversion, but it is not essential. On the other hand, intensive interaction with group members may be essential for bringing the individual to trust the promises of faith and thus become a believer.[26] The need for an answer to life's questions is not enough; people require, a reason to believe that a given answer is trustworthy. Thus, although every human being might be a potential convert, many people remain without faith.

To some extent, the faithless simply lack sufficient interaction with the faithful. But one must also consider the opponents of religion and its competitors. Among them are some of the sciences and various academic disciplines that compete with religion in explaining the nature of things and in promoting solutions for human ills. Members of many learned professions are rewarded in their careers and social lives for being resolutely secular. People whose friends happen to be in highly secular careers will thus be pulled away from religion. By the principles of social influence theory, some individuals will be converted away from religion, just as others will be converted to it. Given that modem industrial economies need the highly secular professions, the tug of war between church and antichurch can never end, and complete conversion of the entire population is impossible.[27]

If one adds to the equation the non-Christian religions and such quasi-religious phenomena as Marxism and psychotherapy, the Christian churches have a considerable amount of competition in their attempt to evangelize the world. Further, to the extent that strain theory explains conversion, frustrations can produce deconversion as well. An individual who joins a religious group in pursuit of solutions to life problems is very apt to drop out if the problems continue. Given sufficient fellowship and comfort, the individual may learn to live with the problems, and thus defection is not inevitable, but even lifelong members of the particular church may defect if severe problems arise in their lives. Thankfully, few of us experience all the calamities of Job, but few of us have his faithful endurance as well.

It would be too much to say that sociologists are convinced that the factors governing conversion balance off, and the evangelical labor invested in gaining converts merely offsets losses due to defection. But the combination of strain theory and social influence theory under consideration here does explain conversion in terms of counteracting forces which sometimes work against faith, as well as often for it.

THE MEANING OF CONVERSION

To convert means to transform, to change, to turn around. Thus it implies a radical change in the nature of the person undergoing religious conversion. But there is reason to doubt that people who convert are always, or even commonly, changed in an essential way. Social influence theory leaves quite open the question of how much the individual changes in personal behavior and inner feeling. It focuses on a shift in the person's attachments to others, and it conceptualizes conversion as simply the joining of a new religious fellowship. How much the person actually changes depends on the nature of the social influences after joining and on the degree of difference between the person's old affiliations and the new ones.

Strain theory accepts the full implications of the term conversion, and it assumes that the individual's beliefs undergo a radical change. The person was deeply frustrated with his former life and takes a leap of faith into a new way of thinking, feeling, and acting. But strain theory applies best when relatively deprived individuals join radical sects, and thus conversion to a liberal denomination may involve no substantial changes. Furthermore, because strain theory is based on an analysis of people's motivations it explains more about what people try to do than what they succeed in doing. That is, people may join religious sects hoping to transform themselves and their lives, but many will ultimately fail. And it is possible that religious conversion often means mere belief change - adoption of a new ideology without any concomitant change in feelings or behavior.

This possibility brings us to one of the hottest research topics in the sociology of religion at the present time: the behavioral differences between religious people and nonreligious people. Classical sociological theorists and clergy agreed that religion, through its rituals and teachings, encourages people to conform to the morals of the society, and perhaps to become better persons. But sixty years ago, Hartshorne and May discovered that young people who attended Sunday school were no less delinquent than those who did not.[28] Twenty years ago, in an extremely well-conducted and influential study, Hirschi and Stark similarly found no power of religion to make young people behave better.[29] This finding cast grave suspicion on the idea that conversion to a religion profoundly transforms the individual.

As good statistical studies mounted in number, sociological frustration also grew, because the results seemed quite contradictory. According to some research studies, religious people were more law-abiding and more respecting of others' rights, and according to other research studies, they were not.[30] Today, there is general agreement that religion does not have an intrinsic power to make people behave better, but that various social factors may temporarily give religion such power.[31] For example, in communities where most people are members of churches - where rates of geographic migration are low - religion supports the moral order; but in communities where only a minority belong to churches, religious folk are no less likely to commit crimes than are the irreligious.[32] Thus while conversion to a religion may mean a more virtuous pattern of behavior, it need not, and nonreligious factors may determine whether it does.

Other evidence bringing the transformational interpretation of religious conversion into doubt has come from observational research. Many of the apparent conversions that take place in Protestant revivals, such as the Billy Graham "crusades," are ritual experiences repeated numerous times by the same individuals.[33] In contrast to Catholicism and the liberal Protestant denominations, evangelical Christianity places great stress on experiences of transformation. The effect is that equally religious people in different traditions use quite different language to describe their religiousness, some describing conversion experiences and others not. Many of the events commonly called conversions may better be termed confirmations or revivals. In any event, a substantial portion of the time when the word conversion is used, no real change of heart or behavior has actually occurred.

Social influence theory is entirely happy with these findings. It sees personal transformation as a quite different issue from a change in group affiliations. Once a person has joined a new religious group, intensive social interaction with members can gradually shape the individual's beliefs, behaviors, and feelings.

The implications for those interested in achieving conversion arc clear. The process is not complete when the new convert acknowledges membership, even when he or she ritualistically expresses a deep transformation as some religious traditions require new members to do. The newcomer must become fully integrated into the fellowship of the congregation and share its spiritual life, perhaps for a long time, before such changes as can occur will be complete. If the particular religious tradition emphasizes swift and decisive conversion experiences, there is nothing wrong with encouraging such feelings despite the sociological evidence that real radical personal transformations are rare. The convert hopes for change, and the congregation has faith that a person can change. Joyful expressions are entirely appropriate. Indeed, social science should not intrude upon them.

It is well to be aware of how fragile such radical conversions can be and "how disappointed the person can become disillusioned and even guilt-ridden - when the conversion proves less complete than it at first appeared to be. Then the advice of sociology and common sense coincide: offer the comfort, fellowship, and spiritual regeneration that an inspired ministry can give.

CONCLUSION

While we have spoken of congregations, communities, and social classes, the emphasis has been on the conversion of single individuals. Yet much of the growth of religion comes through the conversion of families and friendship groups. Here the church faces a fresh challenge. An individual is most apt to join a new religion when his or her attachments to people outside the church are weak. At the extreme, the person will be what we call a social isolate, someone with no strong family and friendship ties. And such people can readily be gathered by the church, one by one. But isolates cannot provide a channel through which to recruit still more converts. A religious movement can spread most rapidly through an extended network of existing family and friendship ties, but the paradox is that persons already embedded in social relationships are least free to change affiliations.

The mirror image of this problem is that a religious congregation enjoying very high levels of fellowship within itself may become cut off from nonmembers and thus have no social avenues along which to convert. Apparently some high-fellowship groups get around this barrier by working through acquaintanceships with nonmembers, rather than friendships, using what Mark Granovetter called weak ties (weak but often extensive social bonds) to build membership.[34]

Another paradox is that it is easiest to build social bonds with an unbeliever if the beliefs are not emphasized, and yet the "good news" of that faith is precisely what the evangelist wants to share. The Mormons solve this by intentionally deemphasizing their special beliefs and religious practices while recruiting, stressing instead the benefits of family and community provided by their church. Conversion to the faith can wait until the person is a member of the Mormon community.

These are paradoxes of social influence theory, and the relative deprivation of strain theory provides its own dilemmas. Most crassly, if the church recruits only deprived persons, who will pay the bills? A little more subtly, can the church take upon itself all the problems of the surrounding society? If people join hoping that their secular conditions will be transformed, they may be disappointed. If the church invests its whole soul battling for improvement of the worldly conditions of deprived members, then it becomes a social service organization, prey to all the problems suffered by those in secular society.

There are two valid answers to these paradoxes, one religious and one sociological. In the Christian faith, ultimate success is not measured through worldly statistics. Although one can never be sure that a conversion is real and that a soul has been saved, still one must believe in the possibilities of conversion and salvation, and the final test is always on a higher spiritual plane. Sociologically, one must recognize that there are many styles of religion and many routes to conversion. Never in the history of the world has a single religious organization encompassed all believers. Far greater success can be achieved by a number of ministries, each with its own special qualities, recruiting particular sorts of people by particular means, than could be gained by a monolithic crusade.

If my great-grandfather's scientific questions of over a century ago remain incompletely answered, incomplete also is the evangelical work to which he devoted his life. Like science, conversion is a dynamic process, and neither may entirely complete its work so long as this world exists.

NOTES

1. William Folwell Bainbridge, Around the World Tour of Christian Missions (Boston: Lothrop, 1882).

2. Theodore E. Long and Jeffrey K. Hadden, "Religious Conversion and the Concept of Socialization," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 11 (1983): 1-14.

3. Robert K. Merton, "Social Structure and Anomie," in Social Theory and Social Structure (New York: Free Press, 1968), 185-214; Neil J. Smelser, Theory of Collective Behavior (New York: Free Press, 1962).

4. James C. Davies, "Toward a General Theory of Revolution," American Sociological Review 11 (1962): 5-19; Ted Robert Gurr, Why Men Rebel (Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University Press, 1970).

5. E. J. Hobsbawm, Primitive Rebels (Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 1959); Eric R. Wolf, Peasant Wars of the Twentieth Century (New York: Harper & Row, 1969).

6. Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium (New York: Harper, 1961).

7. Listen Pope, Millhands and Preachers (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1942); Elmer T. dark. The Small Sects in America (Nashville: Cokesbury, 1948).

8. Nicholas J. Demerath, Social Class in American Protestantism (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1965).

9. Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge, The Future of Religion (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), 160.

10. Rodney Stark and Charles Y. Glock, American Piety (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968).

11. Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge, A Theory of Religion (New York: Peter Lang, 1987).

12. Edwin H. Sutherland, On Analyzing Crime (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973).

13. George C. Homans, The Human Group (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1950); Social Behavior: Its Elementary Forms (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1974).

14. James T. Richardson and Mary Stewart, "Conversion Process Models and the Jesus Movement," American Behavioral Scientist 20 (1977): 819-38; Stark and Bainbridge, The Future of Religion. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985).

15. Bryan R. Roberts, "Protestant Groups and Coping with Urban Life in Guatemala City," American Journal of Sociology 73 (1968): 753-67.

16. Andrew M. Greeley, "Religious Musical Chairs," in In Gods We Trust, ed. Thomas Robbins and Dick Anthony (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 1981), 101-26.

17. Stan Gaede, "A Causal Model of Belief-Orthodoxy," Sociological Analysis 37 (1976): 205-17; Kevin Welch, "An Interpersonal Influence Model of Traditional Religious Commitment," Sociological Quarterly 22 (1981): 81-92.

18. Robert Wuthnow and Kevin Christiano, "The Effects of Residential Migration on Church Attendance in the United States," in The Religious Dimension, ed. Robert Wuthnow (New York: Academic Press, 1979), 257-76; William Sims Bainbridge and Rodney Stark, "Suicide, Homicide, and Religion." Annual Review of the Social Sciences of Religion 5 (1981): 33-56.

19. William Sims Bainbridge, "Explaining the Church Member Rate," Social Forces 68 (1990): 1287-96.

20. William Sims Bainbridge, "Wandering Souls," in Exploring the Paranormal, ed. George K. Zollschan, John F. Schumaker, and Greg F. Walsh (Bridgport, Dorset, England: Prism, 1989), 237-49.

21. Dean M. Kelley, Why Conservative Churches Are Growing (New York: Harper & Row, 1972).

22. John Lofland and Rodney Stark, "Becoming a World-Saver," American Sociological Review 30 (1966): 862-75.

23. John Lofland, Doomsday Cult (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1966) 38.

24. William Sims Bainbridge, Satan's Power (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978).

25. Ibid., adapted from page 35, with all the original names substituted for the pseudonyms I employed in my book, which are no longer necessary.

26. C. David Gertrell and Zane K. Shannon, "Contacts, Cognitions, and Conversion: A Rational Choice Approach," Review of Religious Research 27 (1985): 32-48.

27. Dean R. Hoge, Division in the Protestant House (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1976).

28. Hugh Hartshorne and Mark A. May, Studies in Deceit (New York: Macmillan, 1928).

29. Travis Hirschi and Rodney Stark, "Hellfire and Delinquency," Social Problems 17 (1969): 202-13.

30. Steven R. Burkett and Mervin White, "Hellfire and Delinquency: Another Look," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 13 (1974): 455-62; P. C. Higgins and G. L. Albrecht, "Hellfire and Delinquency Revisited," Social Forces 55 (1977): 952-58.

31. Stan L. Albrecht, Bruce A. Chadwick, and David S. Alcorn, "Religiosity and Deviance: Application of an Attitude-Behavior Contingent Consistency Model," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 16 (1977): 263-74; Charles R. Tittle and Michael R. Welch, "Religiosity and Deviance: Toward a Contingency Theory of Constraining Effects," Social Forces 61 (1983): 653-82; Dean R. Hoge and Ernesto De Zulueta, "Salience as a Condition for Various Social Consequences of Religious Commitment," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 24 (1985): 21-37.

32. Rodney Stark, Lori Kent, and Daniel P. Doyle, "Religion and Delinquency: The Ecology of a 'Lost' Relationship," Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 19 (1982): 4-24.

33. Weldon T. Johnson, "The Religious Crusade: Revival or Ritual?" American Journal of Sociology 76 (1971): 873-90; David L. Altheide and John M. Johnson, "Counting Souls," Pacific Sociological Review 20 (1977): 323-48.

34. Mark Granovetter, "The Strength of Weak Ties," American Journal of Sociology 78 (1973): 1360-80; Helen Rose Fuchs Ebaugh and Sharron Lee Vaughn, "Ideology and Recruitment in Religious Groups," Review of Religious Research 26 (1984): 148-57.