Strict churches are experiencing the greatest growth, according to new research by sociology professor William J. "Beau" Weston of Center College in Danville, Kentucky.

Weston, a ruling elder at Danville Presbyterian Church, identifies a strict church as one that has a clear, authoritative doctrine, rigorous religious practices, and demanding membership requirements. Its serious approach to religion creates a strong identity that distinguishes a strict church from nonreligious organizations, he says in The Religion Market, a paper published by the Kentucky Humanities Council.

"What people want most out of religion is religion," Weston says. "Liberal churches that work hard to accommodate the secular world by offering a refined, intellectual, reasonable faith keep losing people to the even more reasonable pleasures of the newspaper, the golf course, and the warm bed."

Joseph Tamney and Stephen Johnson, sociology professors at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, contend in the Review of Religious Research (March 1998) that an authoritative pastor is the key to church growth.

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