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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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