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Religious Socialization In A Secular Environment: Jehovah’s Witnesses In Eastern Germany

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Chapter Summary

This chapter addresses a vital problem for many religious movements: to increase their memberships and to retain their members children in the movement. It illustrates the situation of young Jehovahs Witnesses in the GDR. Brought up in a society in which the religious norm wasand indeed still isnot to belong to any religious group, members of this banned religious minority managed to develop and maintain their religious identity. Young Witnesses caught up in the educational discourse of the socialist state and the socialization endeavors of their Christian parents, were taught at an early age how to defend their own religious position and to set boundaries. Being a Witness child has, to a great extent, meant fulfilling the same duties and expectations that the Society sets for its adult members. During the socialist era, Witness children rapidly learned the importance and consequences of their own and their familys choice.

Keywords: Christian; eastern Germany; German Democratic Republic (GDR); Jehovahs Witnesses; religious movements; religious socialization; secular environment



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