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Along these lines, The Churching of America, by sociologists Finke and Stark, provides a tremendous array of statistics regarding the phenomenon you're discussing, as well as a theoretical framework for thinking about the phenomenon. They see the competition for members as a market in which religious bodies that are in high tension with the world around them will also beat the churches that are more assimilated.

Thanks for the reference, Greg. I popped online to my local library system, submitted an online request for Stark's book, and will pick it up at my local branch next Tuesday. Technology is great! I've heard Stark mentioned a lot (mostly for his "there will be 265 million Mormons by 2080" comment) but have never read any of his stuff before now.

Greg, that would also explain the slowing of church growth the last 5 - 6 years. While there are some very real benefits to promoting our common ground, it has correlated very close to 0 growth in America.

Let me know what you think, Dave. It was our main text for an "American Religion" class at the Y (Professor Roger Keller), and I must say its formed much of my thinking on this issue.

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