Document Type

Honors Project


Many thanks to my advisers, Professors Erik Larson and Terry Boychuk.


Despite recent interest in examining church growth and decline, sociologists have not engaged in research aimed at determining what factors influence congregational doctrine. I analyzed factors affecting congregations' likelihood of adopting rules concerning same-sex behavior by testing several hypotheses related to potential influences. To do this, I used a nationally representative sample of congregations. I found that, in addition to theology and political ideology, church demographics and political developments influence church doctrine. These findings demonstrate that despite the existence of a formal church-state separation, congregational policy may not be immune to the influence of external social and political developments.



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