CHURCH STATUS AS AN INFLUENCE ON THE RELIGIOSITY OF THE PASTOR
Does the status of the parish as measured by membership size, pastor's salary and church expenditures affect the religiosity of the pastor? A mailed self-administered questionnaire resulted in a sample of 352 pastors of the Baltimore Conference of the United Methodist Church. This representative sample reflected a seventy-one percent response rate. The religiosity of the pastor was measured with four indices reflecting four distinctive dimensions of religiosity. The Belief Index assessed the conceptual sophistication with which the pastor expressed his/her personal religious beliefs by asking the pastor to select one of four responses to four religious beliefs. The Knowledge Index measured the pastor's knowledge about the Christian tradition and contemporary theology with five questions using multiple choice answers. The Commitment Index utilized a Likert-like response scale to measure the pastor's commitment to eleven specific value statements associated with religious sentiments. The Asceticism Index utilized four questions with forced-choice responses to assess the pastor's inclination toward asceticism or mysticism as a primary faith orientation. The status of the membership as measured by education and income rather than the status of the church consistently had strong associations with the measures of religiosity. Increased status of the membership was related to more conceptual sophistication in the way the pastor expressed his/her beliefs as well as to greater knowledge by the pastor about the Christian tradition. Increased status of the membership accompanied both decreased intensity in responses and more substantively liberal responses by the pastor on measures of subjective commitment. Pastors serving churches with higher status membership were more mystical and less ascetic in their faith type. Pastors with more education were conceptually more sophisticated in their beliefs as well as more knowledgeable about the Christian tradition. Although commitment expressed by these United Methodist pastors was not exclusivistic, dogmatic and intolerant on the whole, their subjective commitment became more inclusive, non-dogmatic and tolerant as the education of the pastor increased. Not only were these liberal sentiments more prominent among pastors with more education but also less intense. Asceticism tended to give way to mysticism as the education of the pastor increased.