Deconversion: Qualitative and Quantitative Results from Cross-Cultural Research in Germany and the United States: A Review Essay
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Although the literature on conversion is vast and covers all major disciplines (theology, sociology, anthropology, psychology, history, etc.), the study of deconversion is a much more recent―and a much more modest―phenomenon (Gooren 2010; Rambo 1993). Although William James briefly mentioned backsliding and deconversion in his The Varieties of Religious Experience, he did not consider it an essential theme (James (1958 ), 205–206). Conversion was his key concept, which was to influence generations of scholars. Deconversion only became a more prominent theme in the 1970s with the study of New Religious Movements (NRMs), especially in the sociology of religion, by scholars like James T. Richardson (see, e.g., Richardson 1978). Eileen Barkers’ (1984) landmark study of “Moonies” moving in and out of the Reverend Moon’s Unification Church is probably among the best-known works. David Bromley (1988, 1998) edited two fine volumes on deconversion and apostasy in 1988 and 1998,...
KeywordsIdeal Type Moral Disengagement Religious Organization Church Member Ritual Praxis
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