Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

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


The concept of religious particularism connotes a belief in the exclusive authenticity of one's own religious tradition. Religious particularists are likely to believe that salvation is confined to rather narrowly defined groups of believers.

First developed by Glock and Stark, particularism has been shown to have a strong relationship with doctrinal orthodoxy. Several recent analysts have suggested that religious particularism was a strong inhibition on the political influence of the Christian Right in the 1980s. Jerry Falwell seemed unable to expand beyond a base of Protestant fundamentalists, while support for Pat Robertson's presidential bid in 1988 appears to have been confined to Pentecostalists and charismatics. Similarly, the antiabortion movement may have been hampered by mutual dislike between Roman Catholics and evangelical Protestants. Recent proponents of religious political mobilization (such as the Christian Coalition) have emphasized the importance of ecumenism, in part to avert the fragmenting effects of particularism.

Ted G. Jelen


C. Y. Glock and R. Stark, Christian Beliefs and Anti-Semitism (Westport, Conn: Greenwood, 1966)

J. C. Green, "Pat Robertson and the Latest Crusade," Social Science Quarterly 74(1993):157-168

T. G. Jelen, The Political Mobilization of Religious Beliefs (New York: Praeger, 1991)

R. Reed, Politically Incorrect (Dallas: Word, 1994)

R. Stark and C. Y. Glock, American Piety (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968)

C. Wilcox, God's Warriors (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992).

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