Examined the dimensional structure of identity among neopentecostal Anglicans, applying an analogy between glossolalia and ethnic languages, based on intergroup theory.
Similarity data obatined from a card-sorting task performed by 29 non-glossolalic and 49 glossolalic members of Church of England congregations were multidimensionally scaled. The resulting dimensional structures indicate that neopentecostalists define themselves mainly in terms of conventional religious markers: ‘rebirth’ experience, belief in scriptural authority, and, for non-glossolalists, regular prayer. Glossolalia plays only a limited role, and does so only for those who practise it, while denominational affiliation appears to have no significance in religious identity at all. It is suggested that neopentecostalists regard themselves as having marginal status in mainstream churches and aim to distinguish themselves from ‘nominal’ Christians, thus identibing with all devout believers, in preference to emphasizing neopentecostal distinctiveness which does not afford favourable enough social comparisons.