The church as an effective instrument for social change



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The role of the Church as an effective resource and instrument for the stimulation and support of progressive social change was explored in this thesis. "The Church" described herein relates to Catholic and "mainline" Protestant religious bodies. A variety of sociological and theological concepts concerning the role (and the potential role) of the Church were studied. The recent history of the Church in America, with emphasis on the Church in Houston, was examined in order to assess the actual function it serves in the area of social change. Because of the importance of the use of power in effecting changes in societal structures, diverse views of the recognition and use of power in the Church were explored. It was concluded that although the Church has a dynamic potential to influence and to improve society, and to bring about necessary social changes, there is a tremendous gap between that potential and the reality of the achievement. It is a fact that individuals, both clergy and lay persons, are involved in social reform; if they were encouraged by the Church to pursue these reforms actively and aggressively, they could, indeed, impact society. In avoiding issues that disturb the "status quo" and call for liberation of oppressed people, however, the Church exerts much social control in "keeping things as they are", and little force for social change.



Religious institutions, Social change