BU Professor Recognized by American Sociological Association for Book on Sociology of Religion

in Humanities/Social Science, News Releases, School of Theology
September 1st, 2005

Contact: Jon Kniss, 617-353-2240 | jkniss@bu.edu

(Boston) – Boston University School of Theology Sociology of Religion Professor Dr. Nancy T. Ammerman recently received a Distinguished Book Award from the American Sociological Association. Ammerman was honored in the Sociology of Religion category for Pillars of Faith: American Congregations and Their Partners (University of California Press, 2005).

Pillars of Faith describes the common patterns that shape the work of America’s diverse communities of faith. Brimming with original research and original thinking, this book is an unprecedented survey of American religion and how it is practiced today. At the close of the twentieth century, the United States was one of the most religious Western nations, and Pillars of Faith describes the diversity of tradition and the commonality of organizational strategy that characterize the more than 300,000 congregations in the United States, arguing that they provide the social bonds, spiritual traditions, and community connections that are vital to an increasingly heterogeneous society.

“I am very honored that the ASA has recognized my work,” said Ammerman. “Pillars was truly a labor of love. I hope sociologists find it useful in understanding American society and that religious leaders find it useful in thinking about the important work they do.”

In addition to her role in the School of Theology, Dr. Ammerman also teaches and serves as Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Sociology. She has spent much of the last decade studying American congregations. Her previous book, Congregation and Community, tells the stories of congregations that encountered various forms of neighborhood change in communities around the country. As part of a team, she edited and contributed to Studying Congregations: A New Handbook. In addition, she has written extensively on conservative religious movements, including Bible Believers: Fundamentalists in the Modern World, a study of an independent Baptist church in New England, and Baptist Battles: Social Change and Religious Conflict in the Southern Baptist Convention, which received the 1992 Distinguished Book award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Further, she has also been active in educating a larger public audience about American religion. In 1993, she served on the panel of experts convened by the U. S. Departments of Justice and Treasury to make recommendations in light of the government’s confrontation with the Branch Davidians at Waco. In 1995, she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the same subject, and in 1997 she lectured in Israel under sponsorship of the U. S. State Department. Ammerman earned her Ph.D. degree from Yale University.

Celebrating its centennial, The American Sociological Association is dedicated to advancing sociology as a scientific discipline and profession serving the public good. A 14,000 member non-profit association based in Washington, D.C., the ASA publishes 10 professional journals and magazines.

As the founding school of Boston University, the Methodist-based School of Theology, founded in 1839 and devoted to theological training, offers a wide-range of masters and doctorate programs spanning the spectrum of past and present theology in culture and society. BU is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States with an enrollment of more than 29,000 students.

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