Rain dances in the dry season: overcoming the religious congruence fallacy

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2010-03-01

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Abstract

Religious congruence refers to consistency among an individual’s religious beliefs and attitudes, consistency between religious ideas and behavior, and religious ideas, identities, or schemas that are chronically salient and accessible to individuals across contexts and situations. Decades of anthropological, sociological, and psychological research establish that religious congruence is rare, but much thinking about religion presumes that it is common. The religious congruence fallacy occurs when interpretations or explanations unjustifiably presume religious congruence. I illustrate the ubiquity of religious incongruence, show how the religious congruence fallacy distorts thinking about religion, and outline an approach to help overcome the fallacy.

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Chaves

Mark Chaves

Anne Firor Scott Distinguished Professor of Sociology

Professor Chaves specializes in the sociology of religion. Most of his research is on the social organization of religion in the United States. Among other projects, he directs the National Congregations Study (NCS), a wide-ranging survey of a nationally representative sample of religious congregations conducted in 1998, 2006-07, 2012, and 2018-19. NCS results have helped us to better understand many aspects of congregational life in the United States. Professor Chaves also directed the National Survey of Religious Leaders in 2019-20. He is the author of American Religion: Contemporary Trends (2nd ed., Princeton, 2017),  Congregations in America (Harvard, 2004), Ordaining Women: Culture and Conflict in Religious Organizations (Harvard, 1997), and many articles.


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