Society for the Scientific Study of Religion

Business Meeting Minutes


November 10, 1990     Virginia Beach, Virginia

AGENDA November 10, 1990
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Resort and Conference Center, Virginia Beach, Virginia

The meeting was called to order by President Donald Capps at 11:97 a. m. on Saturday, November 10, 1990. The agenda of the meeting was approved. The minutes of the October 28, 1989 business meeting were approved as published in the June 1990 SSSR newsletter.


All student members will be sent an announcement about the student paper award competition. A new format for the preliminary program booklet for the annual meeting will be explored. In order to improve service to international members mailings will be sent to them by air mail. Plans to increase the number of international members will be developed.

The Council voted to seek a location for the 1994 annual meeting in the western or middle regions of the United States. Locations which are far enough south to enjoy warm weather in late October or early November will get extra rating points. Various members urged that the following places be included in the search for a 1994 meeting site: New Orleans, Seattle, Portland, and a conference center outside Santa Fe. Benton Johnson noted that because current coast to coast air fares are often cheaper than short haul fares, the selection of a city on the Pacific coast could save members money.

The Council voted to extend James Davidson's term as executive officer until 1993.

The resolution about brainwashing which was adopted by the Council was read. After discussion the resolution was amended as follows:

A motion was made and passed to adopt the revised resolution.

The Council voted to endorse in concept a book edited by Jeffrey K. Hadden and David G. Bromley which will provide a summary of the state of knowledge about sects and cult,.

President Capps welcomed Anna Davidson to her new position as business manager for the Society. He also welcomed new officers: Madeleine Adriance and Stephen Glazier, Council members: Katherine Meyer, editor of the monograph series; Bradley Hertel, program chair for 1991.

The Council adopted a no smoking policy for hallways and meeting rooms at the annual meeting. Since all copies of the monograph by Wright have been sold the possibility of reprinting will be investigated. An award for a distinguished journal article in the social scientific study of religion was established and an attempt will be made to start making awards in 1991. Members who want to submit items for the Council to consider are expected to send in the items at least thirty days before the Council meeting.


The Society continues to be in good shape. Current membership is 1610 and library subscriptions remain stable at 1236. Because of increased expenses a deficit was anticipated in the budget for this year. This deficit will be erased by a $ 10 increase in library subscription fees in 1991 and a $ 4 increase in membership dues in 1992.

Several innovations were introduced at the 1990 annual meeting. This is the first meeting held at a beach front resort hotel, instead of a downtown hotel. For the first time pre-registration was encouraged by a lower cost for pre-registration than for registration on site. The result was the largest number of pre-registrations ever, with 330 people pre-registered. Effective at the time of the annual business meeting there are 390 people registered at the meeting. The final number of registrants may reach 400. "A gathering place" was provided on Thursday night where members who arrive early are able to interact. Tours were provided to Colonial Wil1iamsburg, CBN, and the Edgar Cayce Center.

Davidson thanked Virginia Wesleyan College, and especially Mark Templeman, for organizing van service between the airport and the hotel. Regent University provided a free lunch to people on the tour to CEN.

The annual distinguished book award went to Robert Wuthnow for Communities of Discourse, Harvard University Press, 1990. Certificates recognizing 25 years of membership in the Society were awarded to eight new "Fellow" members: N. J. Demerath, Russell Dynes, Thomas J. Gannon, Jeffrey K. Hadden, Dean Hoge, Hart Nelsen, William Silverman. and John Simpson. Others will be mailed to members not in attendance.

As part of the 1990 membership recruitment campaign free membership dues were awarded to three members who recruited new members and to the people who they recruited. The three nominators, whose names were drawn from a box, are William Sneck, David Nygren, and Roderick Hart.

The business office has moved from Washington, D.C. to Purdue. A new computer was purchased for use in the Purdue office.

For the last three years the Society has been able to sponsor a session at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. For the 1991 meeting a session has been organized by William Swatos and David Bromley. Hart Nelsen invites members to send him proposals for a session at the February 1992 AAAS meeting in Chicago.

The Society for the Scientific Study of Mormon Life is discussing the possibility of meeting at the SSSR annual meeting every year. A contract is being negotiated.

The 1991 annual meeting will be held in Pittsburgh at the Vista International Hotel, November 8 - 10, 1991. The 1992 annual meeting will be in Washington, D.C. at the Mayflower Hotel. The 1993 annual meeting will be held in Raleigh, North Carolina at the Radisson Hotel.

Davidson thanked Peter Benson and Daniel Batson, outgoing Council members; Janet Jacobs, 1990 program chair; Stan Gaede, outgoing editor of the monograph series; and Lorraine D'Antonio, outgoing business manager.


H. Newton Malony invited SSSR members to subscribe and contribute to a new journal which will begin publication in 1991 -- The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion. Micheal MacGreil invites everyone to attend the 21st Annual International Conference for the Sociology of Religion at Maynooth, Ireland, August 19-23, 1991. If the Society is interested it may be possible to set aside space at that meeting for the SSSR. A memorial service for Constant Jacquet will be sponsored by the Religious Research Association, Saturday afternoon at 4:30. We remember the deaths this year of our members Roy Wallis and Ignacio Martin-Baro, one of the Jesuits murdered in El Salvador. MacGreil will offer mass on Sunday morning at 7:00 a.m.


Janet Jacobs expressed satisfaction with session quality, attendance, and diversity of participation in the annual meeting.


The committee (Janet Jacobs, chair; Razelle Frankl; and Marion Goldman) decided not to make an award this year. Few papers were submitted and the quality was not up to an adequate standard.


Bradley Hertel invites submission of papers. The theme of the 1991 meeting is "Religious Marginality". This is intended to include apostates, agnostics, people who reply "don't know" to survey researchers, and people who are religious in unconventional ways. Qualitative papers and papers from anthropologists, economists, psychologists, and other fields will be welcomed.


Armand Mauss thanked his assistant editor, copy editor, two book review editors, and 150 referees for their work in producing the Journal. Manuscript submissions have declined in the last year. The acceptance rate, from 1988 to date, is 25 percent. Turn around time averages 7 weeks for first submissions and 3 weeks for revised article.


Stan Gaede's report was presented by President Capps. A translation of essays about the sociology of religion by Georg Simmel is under consideration for co-publication by the Society and a major university press.


Committee chair Eileen Barker reported for the committee. (The other members are Bryan Wilson and James Beckford.) Four awards were given this year. Barker invites the submission of more proposals for research awards. She asks members to inform their students and colleagues of the availability of research awards. She reminded the members that awards can include a stipend. The deadline for submissions is March 1991.


Davidson presented Stuart Wright's report. Wright received several calls from reporters interested in this meeting. This is more expressed interest than in past meetings.

The Virginian Pilot & Ledger-Star for November 10, 1990 (page B3) contains an article about papers presented at this annual meeting. The article features the H. Paul Douglass lecture by Ruth Wallace. Joseph Fichter suggests that the annual meeting be listed in the Chronicle of Higher Education.


Joseph Fichter initiated a discussion of student paper awards by suggesting that awards should be limited to papers by undergraduate students. He thinks that this might be an effective recruitment device. While graduate students are already professionally committed, undergraduates may be more recruitable. Cheryl Gilkes said that graduate students are not that advanced and committed to the study of religion. She favors continued recognition for graduate student papers.

Other members favored creation of two awards, one for undergraduate papers and one for graduate student papers. It is not fair to have undergraduate papers compete with graduate student papers. A straw ballot showed a consensus in favor of having two awards, one for graduate and one for undergraduate students. This discussion will be referred to the Council for appropriate action.


Richard Schoenherr circulated his report and the budget for next year. A deficit was expected and should be erased by planned revenue increases next year.

John Simpson urged that the Society review its investments and its investment policy in the light of rapidly changing current economic conditions.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:49 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
William Silverman, Secretary