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Good Religion or Bad Religion: Distanced Church-members and their Perception of Religion and Religious Plurality

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Abstract The article presents the findings of a qualitative study that examined the church affiliation and religiosity of distanced church-members as well as their perception of religions and their reaction to religious plurality. It brings forward thirteen patterns of interpretation to which distanced church-members refer in their evaluation of religions and in their dealing with religious plurality. Two types of pattern constellation could be made out and, correspondingly, two groups whose members share the same patterns: the pluralists and the proponents of the traditional. The principal difference between the types can be seen in their dealing with intuitive reactions to, and critical assessments of, religions. Distanced church-members in general show a weak and individualized religiosity, which is nevertheless connected to Christian ideas and symbols. Again, the two groups mentioned above could be found, their main differences being self-reflexivity in the motives for church affiliation, the social and cultural role ascribed to church, the awareness of confessional identity and expectations of tolerance towards other religions.

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14. FN11 Stolz et al. (2011, 5-7; 14f) present four religious profiles found in the Swiss population and in the mainline churches. With 66% among Catholics and 70% among Protestants the “distanced” constitute by far the largest group. Although Stolz’ criteria for the distanced differ from ours, this figures show the importance of this group. The same applies to Germany, cf. Höhmann & Krech (2006, 143-195) whose study also covers the distanced members’ evaluation of other religions (173-177).
15. FN22 Regarding the educational level we distinguished people with and people without a university of applied sciences or academic degree; regarding the conservative or modern worldview we asked people to answer two questions on the position of women in society and family (cf. Benthaus-Apel 2006, 208). The interviewees were recruited in the four following segments of society: rotary clubs, social democratic party, shooting associations and networks of ecologically minded craftsmen. These four segments served as the sampling frame; within each segment the interviewees were selected via snowball sampling (cf. Merkens 2007, 290-294).
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/content/journals/10.1163/157092511x604009
2011-01-01
2015-07-04

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