Tag Archives: Catholic Church

Who is a a Convert?

My October 12, 2011, entry for the Patheos blog Black, White and Gray asked: Who is a Convert?

“Writing in the Wall Street Journal opinion page on September 16, 2011, Religion News Service journalist David Gibson asked, who is stronger in the faith, Converts vs. ‘Cradle Catholics?’ This question is one that often comes up in ordinary conversation among Catholics and sometimes among sociologists. Many prominent sociologists of religion of the last half century, such as Peter Berger and Rodney Stark, have emphasized that choice of a faith rather than ascription makes one more sure of one’s beliefs, and hence more committed.  Although there is much truth in the idea that using one’s free will to adhere to a faith likely strengthens one’s commitment to that faith, we should nonetheless ask, why can’t Catholics born into the faith also “choose” to be Catholic?”

To read the full entry, visit the blog.

Talking with the Research on Religion podcast

Under “Press,” there’s a new podcast-interview between me and Anthony Gill (who runs the Research on Religion Podcast). From the description:

“Although the 2010 earthquake in Haiti generated a great deal of media attention to the plight of individuals living in that country, there has been less focus on the large populations of Haitians who have fled their native country over the past several decades to places such as the United States, Canada and France.  Prof. Margarita Mooney — assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a Faculty Fellow at the Carolina Population Center – examines how personal faith and religious organizations assist immigrants adapt to their new surroundings.  We briefly review the history of Haiti and the difficulties that immigrants face in a foreign country.  Our discussion then turns towards how religion — both personal faith and church institutions (specifically the Catholic Church) — can assist immigrants in finding a personal and communal identity.  During the middle of the interview, we take an interesting detour to discuss the methodology behind Prof. Mooney’s research.  We have an open discussion regarding how Margarita’s initial expectations for her fieldwork were somewhat frustrated until she began listening directly to her interview subjects about the important role that faith plays in their lives.  We talk about how many scholars have often overlooked the role of faith and also discuss what role a researcher plays in studies that involve direct observation.  This is a very insightful discussion for both graduate students, undergraduates and non-academics who will gain insights into how social scientifice research is conducted.  Afterwards, we talk about what role Catholic religious organizations (both parishes and social service groups) have played in assisting immigrant Haitians in Miami, Montreal, and Paris.  Margarita notes that the efforts of Notre Dame d’Haiti and the Pierre Toussaint Center in Miami has been much more successful in helping Haitians adopt to their new circumstances than similar organizations in Montreal and Paris.  Prof. Mooney explains this by the specific relationship that local and national governments play in partnering with religious institutions.   At the conclusion of the podcast, Margarita shares insights she gleaned from her research on religious organizations with how that may help secular groups better serve their own constituencies.  Recorded: July 15, 2011.”