God Concepts and· Social Class: The Impact of the Evangelical Movement
There exists a complex and ambiguous relationship between socioeconomic class and religion. Modem studies continue to reassess early theories on this relationship proposed by Marx, Weber and Durkheim. This study reexamines sociological assumptions on class and group theory through the lens of God concepts and by taking advantage of the changing terrain of the American religious landscape, brought about by the growing popularity of evangelicalism among the upper-middle class. In a study of two mainline protestant congregations-upper-middle class and working-class, respectively-and one upper-middle class evangelical "mega-church" congregation, this research explores how the rise of evangelicalism among the upper-middle class influences the traditional class trends in God concepts and religiosity. Applying the framework of Berger and Luckmann' s social construction theory, the results demonstrate continuity with past research in terms of the differing God concepts of working-class and upper-middle class mainline subjects, but suggest a contradiction of this pattern in the beliefs of upper-middle class evangelicals. Moreover, the findings suggest the importance of strong plausibility structures, extended insider conversations and limited out-group exposure in preserving the constructed reality, thus confirming the impact of class on religiosity as an indirect effect through channeling group involvement.