Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

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MOBERG, DAVID O. (1922-) An enormous contributor to the area of religious studies and social science. Born and reared in Minnesota, Moberg was drafted during World War II and eventually ended up on the West Coast, where he received the A.B. degree from Seattle Pacific College. He earned an M.A. from University of Washington, then returned to the University of Minnesota for a Ph.D. (1952). After 20 years at Bethel College in Minnesota, he became Professor of Sociology at Marquette University until his retirement in 1991. President, Association for the Sociology of Religion, 1977; Religious Research Association, 1982.

Moberg's career goal has been to mediate the exchange between Christianity (especially evangelical Christianity but also other traditions) and the social sciences. In pursuit of this goal, he has done much to facilitate the work of others. He played a role in the founding of the Christian Sociological Society and has been a contributor to and supporter of the Association of Christians Teaching Sociology. He has held important offices in several organizations, including Editor of the Review of Religious Research (1969-1973), Editor of the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation (1962-1964), and founding coeditor of the annual Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion . Among the projects that Moberg himself rates most important was the founding of the Association for the Development of Religious Information Systems (ADRIS), an organization dedicated to promoting a global network of religious information exchange.

In addition to his work as a facilitator of others, Moberg has been a prolific scholar in his own right, writing and editing 20 books, more than 200 book chapters and articles, 126 articles in professional journals, and almost 1,200 book reviews. Frequently cited for his research on aging and on spiritual well-being—Moberg's conceptualization of spiritual well-being as a two-dimensional phenomenon is credited by Ellison and Paloutzian as the original idea behind their widely used scale—his books The Church as a Social Institution: The Sociology of American Religion (Prentice Hall 1962, 1984) and The Great Reversal: Evangelism Versus Social Concern (Lippincott 1972, 1977) are especially highly regarded.

David Moberg has received numerous honors. Among them are two Fulbright Professorships (Netherlands, 1957-1958, and Germany, 1964-1965), the H. Paul Douglass Lecture of the Religious Research Association (1986), Inaugural Kellogg Gerontology Lectures, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1987), Frederick A. Shippey Lecturer, Drew University (1988), and the inaugural lecture of the Moberg Lectureship on Christianity and Sociology (1992) at Bethel College, plus a number of visiting professorships.

Larry C. Ingram


D. O. Moberg (ed.), Spiritual Well-Being (Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1979)

D. O. Moberg and R. Gray, The Church and the Older Person (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1962, 1977).

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