HOW CULTURE SHAPES COMMUNITY: Bible Belief, Theological Unity, and a Sense of Belonging in Religious Congregations

Authors


Samuel Stroope, Department of Sociology, Baylor University, One Bear Place #97326, Waco, TX 76798-7326; e-mail: sam_stroope@baylor.edu

Abstract

Feeling that you belong in a group is an important and powerful need. The ability to foster a sense of belonging can also determine whether groups survive. Organizational features of groups cultivate feelings of belonging, yet prior research fails to investigate the idea that belief systems also play a major role. Using multilevel data (U.S. Congregational Life Survey, http://www.uscongregations.org), this study finds that church members' traditional beliefs, group-level belief unity, and their interaction associate positively with members' sense of belonging. In fact, belief unity can be thought of as a “sacred canopy” under which the relationship between traditional beliefs and feelings of belonging thrives.

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