New Thought and the “none-ing” Phenomenon

A Secularization or Re-Sacralization Process?

Authors

  • Philippe Murillo Université de Toulouse

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/ijsnr.22265

Keywords:

Nones, unaffiliated believers, no religion, New Thought, NRM, metaphysics, spirituality, sacralization, secularization, liminal

Abstract

The concept of secularization, coined in the 1960s, is at the heart of the debate as to whether new religious movements (NRMs), such as New Thought, are part of a possible re-enchantment or re-sacralization process where the “no religion” or “nones” category plays a significant role. In the studies of scholars such as Bryan Wilson, David Martin, Steve Bruce, Rodney Stark or Peter Berger, the theory of secularization has long been disputed to prove either the decline of religion or the extinction of it. Nevertheless, in the last three decades these scholars have agreed on the fact that secularization is no longer an appropriate concept to describe the evolution of religious beliefs within society. According to all specialists and research studies, “nones” are everywhere in the religious landscape (Pew Research Centre 2012), but has this always been the case? To consider this perspective, I will use the example of the New Thought movement, the American metaphysical new religious movement dating back to the early nineteenth century, which has been part of the shaping of national identity, both as a model of pluralism and a part of spiritual and political dynamism. Are New Thought members the archetypes of the “none” population and of the “none-ing” process phenomenon? This question raises the problem of the religious identification process and its importance in the spiritual and religious landscape of the United States and elsewhere across the world. It directly impacts the debate on the sacralization/secularization process by inviting a novel approach to the explanation of the “none” cohort by querying its role and whether we should look to its “liminal” aspect.

References

Adjali, Huda, Christina Hendrick Croft and Terry Ely. 2000 “Christian Science and Its Context: Pentacostalisms, New Thought and The Leadership of Women in Religion.” Journal of the Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religions 6(1): 3–26.

Albanese, Catherine L. 2006 A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Anderson, Alan C. 1993 Healing Hypotheses: Horatio W. Dresser and the Philosophy of New Thought. New York: Garland Publishing.

“The Healing Idealism of P. P. Quimby, W. F. Evans and the New Thought Movement.” https://www.ppquimby.com/caa/healism.htm.

Anderson, Alan C. and Deborah G. Whitehouse. 2000 Practicing the presence of God for practical purposes. https://ppquimby.com/alan/healism.htm

New Thought: A practical American spirituality. USA: 1st Books Library.

ARDA, Association of Religious Data Archive. 2020 http://www.thearda.com/Archive/browse.asp

Baker, Joseph O. and Buster G. Smith. 2009a “None Too Simple: Examining Issues of Religious Nonbelief and Nonbelonging in the United States.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 48: 719–733. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2009.01475.x

b “The nones: Social characteristics of the religiously unaffiliated.” Social Forces 87(3): 1251–1263. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/sof.0.0181

Bednarowski, Mary. 1980 “Outside the Mainstream: Women’s Religion and Women Religious Leaders in Nineteenth-Century America.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 48(2): 207–231. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/jaarel/XLVIII.2.207

Braden, Charles S. 1963 Spirits in Rebellion: The Rise and Development of New Thought. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press.

Butler, Jon. 1992 Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. CCU Orlando. nd. https://www.ccuorlando.net/

Cobb, John B. and David R. Griffin. 1976 Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press.

Lee, Lois. 2015 Recognizing the Non-Religious: Reimagining the Secular. Oxford: Oxford University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198736844.001.0001

Day, Abby, Giselle Vincett and Christopher Cotter. 2013 Social Identities between the Sacred and the Secular. Farnham: Ashgate.

Drescher, Elisabeth. 2016 Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of Americans Nones. Oxford: Oxford University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199341221.001.0001

Dresser, Horatio W. 1919 A History of the New Thought Movement. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company.

[1921] The Quimby Manuscripts. New York: Julian Press.

Droogers, André. 2005 “Syncretism and Fundamentalism: A Comparison.” Social Compass 52(4): 463–471. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0037768605058152

Fillmore, Charles S. 1995 [1931] Metaphysical Bible Dictionary. Kansas City, Missouri: Unity School of Christianity.

Finke, Roger and Rodney Stark. 1992 The Churching of America, 1776–1990. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Fischer, Claude S. and Michael Hout. 2006. Century of Difference: How American Changed in the Last One Hundred Years. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Forman, Robert. 2004. Grassroots Spirituality: What It Is, Why It Is Here, Where It Is Going. Exeter: Imprint Academic.

Fuller, Robert C. 2001 Spiritual but not Religious: Understanding Unchurched America. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gallup Organisation. 1999 Poll “Americans remain very religious, but not necessarily in conventional ways.”

“In U.S, Increasing Number have no Religious Identity,” 21 May, at http://news.gallup.com/poll/128276/increasing-number-no-religious-identity.aspx

“Five Key Findings on Religion in the US,” 23 December, http://news.gallup.com/poll/200186/five-key-findings-religion.aspx

Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, University of California, Berkeley. 2013 “General Social Survey,” 7 March, http://issi.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/shared/docs/Hout%20et%20al_No%20Relig%20Pref%202012_Release%20Mar%202013.pdf

Griffin, David R. 2000 Religion and Scientific Naturalism, Overcoming the Conflicts. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

NORC at the University of Chicago. 1972 General Social Survey, at http://gss.norc.org/Documents/quex/1972%20GSS%20Quex.pdf

Hale, J. Russell. 1977 The Unchurched: Who They Are and Why They Stay Away. San Francisco: Harper & Row.

Hanegraaff, Wouter J. 1996 New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought. New York: State University of New York Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004378933

Harley, Gail M. 2002 Emma Curtis Hopkins: Forgotten Founder of New Thought. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.

Hartshorne, Charles. 1953 Reality as Social Process: Studies in Metaphysics and Religion. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press.

Heelas, Paul and Linda Woodhead. 2005 Spiritual Revolution: Why Religion Is Giving Way to Spirituality. Oxford: Blackwell.

Hervieu-Léger, Danièle. 1993 La religion pour mémoire. Paris: Ed. du Cerf (Sciences humaines et religions).

Holmes, Ernest. 1926 The Science of Mind. New York: Dod Mead and Company.

Hood Jr., R. W., P. C. Hill and B. Spilka. 2009 The Psychology of Religion: An Empirical Approach. 4th edition. New York: Guilford Press.

Hout, Michael and Claude S. Fischer. 2002 “Why More Americans Have No Religious Preference: Politics and Generations.” American Sociological Review 67(2): 165–190. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/3088891

Hout, Michael. 2017 “Religious Ambivalence, Liminality and the Increase of No Religious Preference in the United States, 2006–2014.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 56(1): 52–63. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jssr.12314

Ingersoll, R. E. 1994. “Spirituality, Religion and Counseling: Dimensions and Relationships.” Counseling and Values 38: 98-11. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2161-007X.1994.tb00827.x

International New Thought Alliance. No date. INTA Homepage. http://newthoughtalliance.org/

Judah, J. Stillson. 2004 “Metaphysics Midwestern America.” The Journal of Popular Culture 17(4): 134.

Kosmin, Barry A., Ariela Keysar, Ryan Cragun, Juhem Navarro-Rivera. 2008 American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population. Hartford, CT: Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society & Culture.

Partridge, Christopher. 2009 “Alternative Spiritualities, New Religions and The Reenchantment of the West.” In The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements, edited by James R. Lewis. Online. doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195369649.003.0003. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195369649.003.0003

Lim, Chaeyoon, Carol Ann MacGregor and Robert D. Putnam. 2010 “Secular and Liminal: Discovering Heterogeneity Among Religious Nones.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 49(4): 596–618. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2010.01533.x

McLoughlin, William G. 1978 Revivals, Awakenings and Reform: An Essay on Religion and Social Change in America, 1607–1977. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

McLoughlin, William G. and Robert N. Bellah. 1968 Religion in America. USA: Beacon Press.

Melton, J. Gordon. 1990 New Thought: A Reader. Santa Barbara, CA: Institute for the Study of American Religion.

Mikanovitch, Troy. 2017 Interview with Elisabeth Drescher, American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting in Boston, MA., Reading Religion. https://readingreligion.org/content/interview-elizabeth-drescher-author-choosing-our-religion

Miller, W. R. and J. E. Martin, eds. 1988 Behavior therapy and religion: Integrating spiritual and behavioral approaches to change. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Murillo, Philippe. 2008 “The Oprah Show and popular metaphysics: a shaping pluralism for the US?” European Association of American Studies (EAAS), Biennal Congress, OSLO, Norway, 9–12 May.

“Mainstreaming and Marginalization of New Religious Movements,” CESNUR International Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 20–23. http://www.cesnur.org/2009/slc_cyberpro.htm

“A Renewal of the American Metaphysical Movement: An Analysis of Christ Church Unity.” Religioscope. https://english.religion.info/

Murillo, Philippe and Laurence Roussillon-Constanty. 2013 Science, Fables and Chimeras: Cultural Encounters. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Pew Research Center. 2008 US Religious Landscape Survey. Washington: Pew Forum in Religion and Public Life: Washington.

“Nones on the Rise,” 9 October, at https://www.pewforum.org/2012/10/09/nones-on-the-rise/

“America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” 12 May, http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/

Public Religion Research Institute. 2107 “America’s Changing Religious Identity,” 6 September, https://www.prri.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/PRRI-Religion-Report.pdf

Putnam, Robert D. and David E. Campbell. 2010 American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Roof, Wade C. 1993 A Generation of Seekers: The Spiritual Journeys of the Baby Boom Generation. New York: Harper Collins.

Spiritual Marketplace: Baby Boomers and the Remaking of American Religion. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Roof, Wade C. and C. Kirk Hadaway. 1977 “Shifts in Religious Preference—the Mid-seventies.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 16: 409–412. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/1386227

Satter, Beryl. 1999 Each Mind A Kingdom. Los Angeles: University Press of California.

Smith, Tom W. and Seokho Kim. 2007 “Counting Religious Nones and Other Religious Measurement Issues: A Comparison of the Baylor Religion Survey and General Social Survey.” GSS Methodological Report 110.

Smith, Tom W., Peter V. Marsden, Michael Hout and Jibum Kim. 2015 General Social Survey cumulative codebook, 1972–2014 [MRDF]. NORC, University of Chicago.

Spilka, B. and D. N. McIntosh. 1996 The psychology of religion: Theoretical approaches. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Stark, Rodney. 2008 “Exploring the Religious Life.” History of Religions 47(4): 356–359. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/589799

Stark, Rodney and Laurence R. Iannaccone. 1994 “A Supply-Side Reinterpretation of the “Secularization” of Europe.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 33(3): 230–252. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/1386688

Stark, Rodney and William Sims Bainbridge. 1985 The Future of Religion. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Turner, Victor. 1995 The Ritual Process Structure and Anti-Structure. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

US Census Bureau. 1957 Statistical Abstract of the United States (Seventy-eighth Edition). https://www2.census.gov/library/publications/1957/compendia/statab/78ed/1957-02.pdf#[0,{%22name%22:%22FitH%22},618

Vaughan, F. 1991 “Spiritual Issues in Psychotherapy.” Journal of Transpersonal Psychology 23(2): 105–119.

Vernon, Glenn M. 1968 “The Religious ‘Nones’: A Neglected Category.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 7(2): 219–229. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/1384629

Whitehead, Alfred North. 1929 Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology. New York: The Macmillan Company.

Wuthnow, Robert. 2009 After Heaven: Spirituality in America since the 1950s. Berkley: University of California Press.

Published

2022-03-23

How to Cite

Murillo, P. (2022). New Thought and the “none-ing” Phenomenon: A Secularization or Re-Sacralization Process?. International Journal for the Study of New Religions, 11(2), 203–234. https://doi.org/10.1558/ijsnr.22265

Issue

Section

Articles