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church, rural, religion, philosophy, contemporary Christian, American South
The contemporary Christian Church plays many roles in the community and in the lives of individuals and families living there: Church as a political tool, Church as an instrument for community stability and change, Church as an oppressor and source of rejection, and Church as a source of protection. Literature commonly approaches Christianity and involvement in the contemporary Christian Church from a positivist paradigm which assumes Christianity and church-involvement are rooted solely in commitment to faith. Exploring Christianity in a rural context requires researchers to consider alternative philosophical paradigms when operationalizing religion, such as church-involvement as a source of community or social exclusion through a post-positivist paradigm or church-involvement as a source of authority through Foucault's postmodernist paradigm. Shifts in the operationalization of religion in rural research and implications of such must be considered in the field of social work.
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