A comparative study of the conversion and commitment processes in three religious groups



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The purpose of this thesis is to examine conversion and commitment processes in religious groups. Conversion means to adopt a new religion or to change from one belief system to another. Commitment means affiliation with the group and involvement in the group. Indepth, structured interviews were conducted in Houston during the summer and fall of 1978 with individual members of three religious groups: Catholic Charismatics, Baha'is, and Christian Scientists. The sample consisted of a stratified sample of fifty people from each of the three groups (N=150). The Lofland (1966) model of conversion as well as Snow and Phillips' (1980) critique of the model are used to test our data. In general, our data support Snow and Phillips’ critique of Lofland's model. However, there are two aspects Snow and Phillips did not take into account. First, in their case study they considered only converts to the religion. Our data suggest that the conversion process operates differently for nonconverts. The second aspect they overlooked is the issue of group differences affecting the conversion process. This thesis also examines prayer as a form of interaction and its role in the conversion process. It was found that the form in which prayer finds expression varies across the groups according to group ideology.



Conversion, Commitment to the church, Religions, Prayers