All Black People are Alike: And other embarassing claims of religious sociology

You like goats? I like goats!

You like goats? I like goats!

Thankfully, I decided to skip the Sociology Prom and finish my book (which I did!), and take a family vacation and race bikes and shit. But, alas, the high school sociology meetings intrude on my cognitive space. The latest bullshit was this total fucking dweeb ass summary of abstracts from the AAR meetings. Jesus fucking a frog. Anyone who goes to the AAR should have their sociology card revoked. And, of course, the list of serious intellectuals was a who’s who of Christianist sociology. I’m surprised Marky Regnerus and Bradley Wilcox weren’t on the tally, after all it was fronted by Christian Smith!

I’m not going to comment at this time on the full ledger of hamfisted and disconnected bullshit that gives me no hope for the field, but I do want to say just a bit about the claim that somehow a clan of conservative Christians came up with a solid measure of religion and that this is one of the pinnacle achievements of Christian sociology in the early 21st century…..First, it would be nice if somehow people realized that many of us knew how to classify religion long before a handful of jesus freak students at a Pew of Lilly funded christian sociologist development workshop began trying their cum laden hands to the task. Yeah, maybe it isn’t too hard to beat Tom Smith’s three way classification, but the bullshit concoction these losers came up with can’t even do that! It’s fucking nuts! READ THE FUCKING PUBLICATIONS. They made a less parsimonious classification that does no better than Smith. And, of course, anyone who actually studied the sociology of religion knew that much better classification systems had been developed by Stark and Glock, Roof and McKinney, and (my personal favorite) Kluegel.

What is most bestest is how the pasty white conservative Christians who formulated this bullshit system of the classification of denominational identifications decided that ALL BLACK PEOPLE ARE THE SAME.  Yes, as we prepare to enter a society where most people are NOT white, we should continue to examine Not White People as if they are all the same. Because, fuck them. Then shoot them. I mean, what the fuck. They’re all the same, right? I think I have six or seven publications examining this issue, and my vague recollection is NO. No, they are not all alike. They have different views of political issues, varying levels of social status, and different patterns of association and co-involvement. There is no such thing as a “Black Protestant” and the construction and promotion of this is a hindrance to social science based primarily on the racist predilections of  conservative Christian “social scientists.”

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35 Responses to “All Black People are Alike: And other embarassing claims of religious sociology”

  1. etseq Says:

    Have you seen marky Mark’s latest attempt at proving Americans still hate they ghez no matter what those liberals are telling you?

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/356220/right-side-history-or-primed-say-yes-mark-regnerus

    http://equalitymatters.org/blog/201308200003
    (They give you props for calling him disgraced 🙂

    He relies on Michael Emerson, some christian sociologist out of Rice who “published” a study showing no change in attitudes based on what seems to me an irrelevant question – “Do you believe marriage is between a man and woman” vs “Do you think gays are lesbians should be allowed to marry” but wht do I know – I’m a gay liberal and just a sentimental emotional type unlike those rational catholics…

    http://kinder.rice.edu/uploadedFiles/Kinder_Institute_for_Urban_Research/Publications/White_Papers/Marriage%20Definition%20White%20Paper.pdf

    Notice Regnerus never mentions GSS data, which if anything should be called the “gold standard” and not his pseudoscience….

    Your thoughts?

    –jimmy green

    PS – A gay man who still trusts you 🙂

  2. sherkat Says:

    Oh Jesus….I can’t bear to read it. Maybe later when I’m drunk. But, Thanks Jimmy, I love you!

  3. sherkat Says:

    And, FYI, Emerson and Regnerus were close friends and classmates in graduate school at UNC, where they both did their dissertations under Christian Smith, who is now at Notre Dame. Christian is the godfather of this new wave of radical right wing Christian Sociology.

  4. etseq Says:

    Hee – I noticed he was UNC and the first thing I thought of was that Christian Smith must be a real charismatic guy because he sure seems to have many acolytes in SOR. Kinda like that guy Jesus…NOT! How does Smith get so such respect? Didn’t he publish an article a few years ago that basically said Christianity works because of God’s blessing? The journal editor had to write up a semi-apology and there were several critical responses. His answer was basically – Critical Realism bitches – I don’t need no stinking empiricism or god forbid naturalism. Have the Christianists penetrated SOR that much that they can get away with such BS? Rodney Stark did the same thing – started off respectable and then went full blown Christianist. Ryan Cragun, Phil Zuckerman, Per Smith, and you are about the only ones I have any respect for – the rest just seem to apologists for Xian supremacy…I mean, “Soft Paternalism” really??

    Keep up the good fight – some activists get a little out of hand but most people I know in the gay community respect the work you do. This whole Regnerus mess has just been a circle jerk all the way round…

    —jwg

  5. etseq Says:

    One last thing before you star drinking…Marky Mark has his own right wing think tank now called the “Austin Institute” and guess who there first speaker is – good ole Robbie “PIV” George! Almost makes you want to sell out and join the right wing gravy train…NOT!

    http://www.austin-institute.org/category/events/

    Guess he is preparing for his future since he has burnt all his bridges in academia…

    Bottoms Up!

    • Steve Says:

      Of course. It’s so absurdly easy in the US to create some “institute”, “fund”, “council” or “organization” with a self-aggrandizing, grandiose name, although you only have a handful of people. Or one. Then you get millions in donations and pay yourself a salary of several hundred thousand dollars without doing any real work. That’s how *all* of them function.

      And how else is Regnerus going to make a living now?

      • etseq Says:

        Yup…and there are always huge conservative foundations that love to fund these smaller ventures that then fund even smaller ventures – capitalism at work! It’s like those Russian Matryoshka dolls – open one and find another, rinse, lather, repeat….

  6. sherkat Says:

    Jeebus Jimmy! I almost prefer not to know, but I’ll be more direct regarding ChristianSmith soon,

    • etseq97 Says:

      No rush – I’ve just been pissed off at smith ever since he wrote that ridiculous op-ed for the chronicle of higher end bemoaning the “auto-da-fe” of poor ole Marky Mark. Talk about a drama queen! I know right wing catholics love them some martyrology ( more like hagiography) but give me a break! Then it comes out that he lied about being Regnerus dissertation advisor – that’s not very “christian” but sure is jesuitical casuistry at its finest 🙂

  7. Darren Says:

    But, unless he converted like Regnerus, s
    smith is a Calvinist.

  8. sherkat Says:

    Jesus fuck.

  9. Per Smith Says:

    Darren. Could you offer some examples of the things you mention above. It’s a fact that most American sociologists of religion are Christian (for good or bad). I’m just not sure I understand exactly what about the American Academy of Religion annual meeting abstracts this year lead to your post. I’d like to know. Thanks!

  10. sherkat Says:

    Thanks, Jimmy…I just found it. That was sent to everyone in the REAL SOCIOLOGY of religion section of the American Sociological Association, because Christian Insisted that Penny Edgell send it, and she relented. The section was founded to keep Christian Activist sociologists out—they can have the old Catholic Sociological Association (which publishes SOR, formerly Catholic Sociological Review). I know. I was one of the founders. Immediately upon the founding, the usual group of liberal Protestants, Catholics, and sectarian protestants coopted the organization. I am the only member of the founding committee who has not been chair (not even nominated) nor been on the council (not even nominated). Because Jesus.

    • etseq Says:

      Yikes – I only could see the abstract as I don’t access to jstor or any other academic library goodies…but it looked bad enough from the summary.

  11. Per Smith Says:

    Ah. OK I was wondering if that essay is what you were talking about. The authors of that piece, perhaps ironically given the publication venue, do not attend AAR often, if at all. I was confused because I thought you were referring to the annual meeting abstracts.

    You might find this piece interesting, not written by a sociologist but a religious studies scholar critical of that essay.

    http://www.equinoxpub.com/blog/2013/08/tilting-at-windmills/

    • etseq Says:

      I saw that blog post as well – the author is a critical theorist in religious studies and I couldn’t figure out if he was criticizing it or not. As a cranky old positivist, critical theory is like greek to me – we used to jokingly call it the left’s version of creationism. I get the point of the critique but its basically turtles all the way down once you reduce evidence and empiricism to competing regimes of power. Just as the creationist dismisses evidence of evolution when it conflicts with his ideology, the crits do the same thing just from the left.

      As an aside, Stephen Pinker is getting roasted over the coals by the lit crit crowd for attempting to reclaim “scientism” as a positive identity in a piece in the new republic. I thought his allusion to gays reclaiming “queer” was hilarious and as a gay man who hates the word queer, I can appreciate the irony. It’s typical Pinker – slightly obnoxious but a good corrective to the Left. He has a point about scientism having such a vague meaning and only being used as an epithet. Sort of like being called an essentialist by social constructivists – its the ultimate strawman.

      http://www.newrepublic.com/article/114127/science-not-enemy-humanities

  12. Per Smith Says:

    The other thing I should point out is that essays published in the JAAR are not necessarily representative of all AAR members or sub-groups within it. As far as I know there is no link between the Sociology of Religion section and that essay or the fact that the essay was published in the journal. I’m co-chair of the Secularism and Secularity section but I have no link whatsoever to the journal or what it publishes.

  13. sherkat Says:

    Nah, I don’t care. You go to the AAR and your sociology card is pull
    ed. It’s a religious organization of airy fairy wackjobs who are opposed to the scientific study of religion, and consider “scientific” to be an epithet.

    • Per Smith Says:

      I guess it’s a good thing I never had one of those cards in the first place. The AAR is a religious studies organization primarily, and as I tried to point out the authors of that essay are for the most part not members, nor do they attend the meetings (but I bet they do attend SSSR). The fact that the JAAR published the essay is not meaningless, I’ll grant you that. I guess it says something about the audience it was written for. I doubt JSSR would have passed on it though (or other sociology of religion journals), but maybe you feel the same way about them too, I don’t know. Either way I do not agree that all the authors of that essay are wackjobs, nor do I agree that all AAR members are airy fairy nor whatever. AAR is a diverse group, just as ASA is, though unlike ASA that diversity includes a lot of very different methodological approaches. Are members of AAR over all more religious than colleagues focusing on religion who tend to stick with disciplinary associations (sociology, history, anthropology, etc.)? Yes I believe so (in fact I know historians of religion who also don’t like AAR because it’s too “confessional” for their liking). Is there a pro-religious bias within religious studies in general? Yes I also believe so and I believe the same about the sociology of religion as a sub-discipline. But how extreme is it? In my humble opinion not as extreme as you think it is, and with the caveat again that there is a ton of diversity. Anyway I’m not sure how helpful it is to generalize this categorically…it’s a bit like saying that all black Christians are the same.

      • etseq Says:

        Clever tu quoque at the end there but I don’t think the comparison you make is morally equivalent…Stereotyping sociologists may be bad form but it doesn’t hold a candle to what Christian Smith and his cadre are doing to the field…and more importantly how their right wing christian ideology does real damage to the groups they purport to study. Their rigid gender essentialism and homophobia perverts what’s left of the science in SOR. And as we have seen with the Regnerus affair, it has political implications that go well beyond what used to be just an academic disciplinary squabble…SOR and Philosophy of Religion are the only two sub-fields I am aware of that have basically been captured by right wing Christians. I could care less about the Philosophers – they don’t pretend to be scientists and thus have little influence on public policy. It’s the sociologists that worry me and I think for good reason.

  14. sherkat Says:

    Jimmy, drop me your e-mail and I’ll send you whatever. You should be tortured.

  15. sherkat Says:

    Some of my best friends are lawyers….

    But, Per. No. Religious sociology is complete bullshit. And, religious people, sociologists and others who don’t even have the basic credential,have coopted MY organization. It isn’t pro”religious, bias, let’s be more specific. It’s Pro Christian bias. Which is a pretty perverse dominant orientation for a group that claims to be scientific. And, I claim to be scientific. And sociology is a science. If religious wackjobs want to wack off in some religious organization, that’s fine. I won’t look. I promise. I’m not into that. But, get the fuck off of my lawn.

  16. Per Smith Says:

    Just to be clear btw. In the original post were you talking about AAR (American Academy of Religion) or ASR (Association for the Sociology of Religion)?

  17. sherkat Says:

    AAR, That’s where Smith had that sponsored session which resulted in that “publication” Jimmy linked to above. It’s in JAAR. AAR plunged into the abyss long ago, and is really just a Christian group. One of my best friends is Mike Humphries, who was part of the Q project/Jesus Seminar. Now days, at AAR and SBL it’s nothing but fundies and apologists. If you aren’t a committed Christian and your research doesn’t support Christian dogma, you aren’t welcome.

  18. sherkat Says:

    But, I also haven’t been a member of the Association for the Sociology of Religion since David Yamane published that awful paper by Smith in Sociology of Religion and then pulled my response paper which was supposed to be published in the same issue after Christian threw a fit. If you think the papers critiquing Smith published later were critical, you haven’t seen critical. I had the paper half written. I almost filed charges with the American Sociological Association’s Committee on Professional Ethics. But, what is the point? Soc. of Rel is not an ASA journal, and if the Christians want to violate peer review (Smith’s paper was not peer-reviewed) and stifle critque of apologists, who cares? I much more pissed off about the Christianists coopting the ASA Sociology of Religion Section.

    • etseq Says:

      Did you ever finish your reply? That I’d love to see…Edgell’s reply was pretty good but Smith’s response was to keep chanting “critical realism” like it was some kinda shibboleth…

      • Per Smith Says:

        “Likewise, it is not a partisan statement to say that we need to be clear and explicit about when we are writing as apologists for a particular set of value commitments and when we are writing as scholars. In my view, Christian apologetics have no place in our discipline’s scholarly journals; the danger of skewing debate, silencing dissenting voices, and inhibiting publication by young, untenured scholars of pieces critical of Christianity—these are all real and present dangers, and ones that concern this reviewer a great deal.”

        That’s Edgell’s concluding paragraph, which seems pretty on point. While I agree with you that Smith is essentially an apologist and polemicist, I do not think it’s all doom and gloom in the sociology of religion, or in religious studies. There are plenty of us who are not apologists for religion(s). In religious studies (which is my actual field) things have been moving in the direction of less apologetics, not more (as departments and schools of Theology have been giving away to the historical and social scientific study of religion). Some are not satisfied with how slowly this has happened, and that’s why the North American Association for the Study of Religion (NAASR) exists. See – http://www.naasr.com/. In any event I think the ideological movements within the sociology of religion have not always mirrored religious studies.

        I find it promising, for instance, that this year’s AAR meeting features a discussion of Bender and Cadge’s, Religion on the Edge: De-centering and Re-centering the Sociology of Religion, as opposed to any of the polemics coming out of Christian Smith’s devious brain. My group is also co-sponsoring a session on the so called religious “nones” that features social scientific papers by young scholars who are nowhere near Smith’s agenda.

      • etseq Says:

        I value the work you do Per and I didn’t mean to question your academic bona fides. Of course, there is still good people doing good work in both SOR and RS. I mentioned you specifically in another thread along with Kragun, Zuckerman, Sherkat, and many, many others in another (sorry I can’t find it now but I do remember mentioning you by name…) But I think the point Darren was making was more about the devaluing of science and the scientific method in SOR and that I think is directly related to the influx of christian apologists into the field. I’m no expert on Sociology – I just a BAs in History and Philosophy (of Science) and ended up in law school because I didn’t think I had a shot at getting a decent job in Academia – but it was my understanding that SOR was traditionally pretty much dominated by self-defined positivists that valued a scientific approach. That is, unlike in other parts of sociology, where critical theory, social constructivism, and other anti-positivist methodologies have gained constituencies, only in SOR have these reactions against science been motivated, or more likely coopted, by theological concerns of right wing christians rather than the usual lefty suspects.

        I don’t know where you stand in the methodological debates and frankly I am probably talking way above my paygrade but as a outsider from the discipline, I tend to agree with the neo-positivists that accept that science is not perfect, specific results are indeed fallible, knowledge in always partial and never absolute, social forces can indeed influence science on the margins, but even with all those qualifications, science is best method we have available for problem solving and knowledge generation. This is more of a pragmatic rather than a dogmatic epistemological view – there may indeed be “other ways of knowing” that are more relevant for in the humanities – but I am skeptical of methods that privilege subjectivity, whether they be critical theory on the left or supernatural revelation and causation from the right (or Smith’s approach that seems to advance the latter in the guise of the former).

        I don’t know much about religious studies but wasn’t it formed, in part, as a reaction against the scientific positivism in sociology? It seems to have more methodological flexibility, for good or for bad, in that it embraces a more subjective narrative approach, along with various schools of critical theory. I recently read and commented, probably a bit too snarkily, on this recent post http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/culture/7231/robert_bellah_s_powerful_legacy__a_mixed_blessing_for_religious_studies/ Would you agree with the authors assessment of the field and its skeptics?

        All this reminds me of the war raging in anthropology between the physical and cultural sub-fields and whether the field should split along the lines of science vs non-science. Of course, there is no hint of christian entryism in anthropology – the divide seems to be mainly driven by politics on the left, cultural relativism in particular.

        I am genuinely curious about your take on this – again, I am mainly talking out my ass and I am sure that my particular bias towards science overlooks many nuances and competing agendas of which you are more aware. Thanks for the friendly debate…

        —jimmy

  19. Per Smith Says:

    The roundtable discussion did not start at AAR…

    By the way having no memory of this being associated with AAR, except being published in the journal, I search every program book for the last 10 years (easily searchable in pdf format). Christian Smith’s only appearance at AAR in the last ten years was last year, and it was in a panel discussion of his strange book on human nature, during which he responded to religious studies scholars (mostly philosophers I imagine).

    My understanding was that the roundtable was a workshop sponsored by the Mellon Foundation that took place at Notre Dame. I’m not pointing this out in order to prove anything about the nature of scholarship in the AAR. I’m only pointing it out to prove something about the source of the article, which doesn’t appear to have anything to do with AAR.

    • etseq Says:

      I am curious as to what motivated the Mellon Foundation to invest in what seems to be a very pro-religion initiative – wiki seems to indicate it just part of Andrew Mellon’s fortune split that was split among many foundations. It doesn’t appear to be particularly right wing or religious, unlike say the Bradley or Templeton foundations. I would have suspected it was more left leaning, like the Ford foundation. Notre Dame, while certainly not a puppet for the Vatican, does not hide the fact that part of its mission is to advance the RCC’s doctrines, especially when it comes to natural law theories of the family and sexuality. Also, the entire raison d’etre of the project is that religion is under-appreciated by “secular” academia, which is a highly contested premise.

      I guess Smith is considered quite a “rainmaker” – he pulls in alot of grant money that just so happens to align with his project to “re-christianize” society in general, and academia in particular. I wonder how he convinced Mellon to sign-on?

      • Per Smith Says:

        Here’s more information…

        “In addition, Smith is leading the sociology working group for Religion Across the Disciplines, a four-year, international project housed at Notre Dame. Funded by a $657,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Religion Across the Disciplines calls on leading scholars from around the world to join with faculty and graduate students at Notre Dame to investigate the influence of religious knowledge in history, international relations, literature, music, and sociology, as well as the influence those fields have on religion itself.”

        http://al.nd.edu/news/19286-sociologist-christian-smiths-book-wins-international-prize/

        “Welcome to the Notre Dame Website on Religion across the Disciplines, which supports a series of programs to promote the integration of religious thought into various disciplines. The projects have been made possible by a $657,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.”

        http://rmellon.nd.edu/

        The article does not make it clear that the group met to “promote the integration of religious thought…” instead it claimed to “reflect critically and constructively about the relationship between religious knowledge and the discipline of sociology.” Hmmm…

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