Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

Table of Contents | Cover Page  |  Editors  |  Contributors  |  Introduction  |  Web Version


Formally organized as the Religious Research Fellowship on June 21, 1951, the group traces its heritage to the work of H. Paul Douglass, originally under the auspices of the Institute of Social and Religious Research in association with the Federal Council of Churches, extending back to the 1920s.

The earliest members were Protestant denominational researchers and/or seminary faculty. The decision to organize formally in 1951, however, was taken to create a clear institutional separation between these persons, who had been meeting under various styles, and the Central Department of Research and Survey of the National Council of Churches, which came to supplant the Federal Council at that time. Catholic and Jewish researchers, as well as nonaffiliated academics, came into membership by the mid-1950s. Since the early 1970s, the RRA has met annually with the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion; a major feature of these meetings has been the RRA-sponsored H. Paul Douglass lecture, which began in the early 1960s. Since 1959, the RRA has published the Review of Religious Research , which circulates to approximately 500 individual members and 500 libraries. The RRA also supports original applied and basic research through the Constant H. Jacquet awards.

The current goals of the RRA are (1) to increase understanding of the function of religion in persons and society through application of social scientific and other scholarly methods; (2) to promote the circulation, interpretation, and use of the findings of religious research among religious bodies and other interested groups; (3) to cooperate with other professional societies, groups, and individuals interested in the study of religion; and (4) to aid in the professional development of religious researchers. As American denominations have generally reduced the size or eliminated "inhouse" staffs, an increasing proportion of RRA members are drawn from the academic social scientists of religion; however, the applied perspective of the founders along with strong respect for faith traditions remain hallmarks of the RRA.

William H. Swatos, Jrhttp://rra.hartsem.edu 

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