Orthodoxy Niches: Diversity in Congregational Orthodoxy Among Three Protestant Denominations in the United States

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Abstract:

The organizational niche, a fruitful concept from the organizational ecology literature, frames this study on the diverse orthodoxy of congregations within the same denomination. Congregations diversify along a conservative‐to‐liberal continuum, which lessens niche overlap with nearby congregations in their denomination. Pastors and priests in United Methodist and Episcopal congregations in three U.S. regions were able to locate their congregations (and other congregations in their denomination in close proximity) along this conservative‐to‐liberal continuum, an indication that orthodoxy distinctions were important to congregational identity. In comparison, Assemblies of God congregations showed little intradenominational diversity in orthodoxy, since sectarian boundaries narrow their niche. Theoretical and methodological implications of this intradenominational diversity are explored.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2011.01598.x

Affiliations: Department of Sociology, Crandall University

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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