Fresh with new insights, issues, and developments, thisintriguing book offers a sound analysis of religion as a social institutionthat is interdependent and in constant interaction with other societalunits. Objective in approach, it shows readers the importance of chroniclingand analyzing the actions and reactions surrounding religion and society inour endeavor to understand how societies function and change. KEYTOPICS: Emphasizes American religious institutions, but includes manyexamples of the interaction of religion and society in other cultures, bothhistoric and contemporary. It also applies the perspective of church-secttheory to an analysis of recent cult groups, such as the Peoples Temple andthe Branch Davidians. Highlights include a new chapter on the rise ofreligious fundamentalism in its Christian, Jewish, and Islamic forms; andanalysis of current issues in religion and politics, i.e., Protestant andCatholic voting patterns, the abortion controversy, school prayer issues,and recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings.
Johnstone (Ball State U.) does not say explicitly that his work is a textbook, but it could certainly function as one. He discusses the sociological perspective on religion, religion as a social phenomenon, the classic church-sect continuum of religious organization and evolution, the relationship of religion to major social institutions and structural features of society, and some of the major features of religion in the US. Earlier editions appeared 1975-97. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)