Saturday, March 14, 2009

Moral Foundations of Unitarian Sermons

A word-frequency program characterizes moral-foundation words in UU sermons! (pdf, UU part starts at p 14.) They also analyze Southern Baptist sermons, and compare them. UUs were selected as the most liberal denomination, SBs as the most conservative -- based on previous research.

This is cool enough that it deserves several posts. And probably a sermon. Graham, Haidt and Nosek make several notable claims:
  • UU sermons are much more political that Southern Baptist sermons; they cite studies that found UU sermons to be the most political across all denominations studied.
  • As predicted, UUs praise fairness & equality, and care of the oppressed, more highly than SBs.
  • SBs extol authority, loyalty and purity more than UUs. Indeed, when UUs mention authority, loyalty or purity, it is frequently to warn against it.
  • This particularly shows up with 'Ingroup' words:
    • "The words communit*, group, individ*, and nation* were used more frequently in liberal sermons, but analysis of these words in context revealed liberals were much more likely than conservatives to use these words in order to reject the foundational concerns of ingroup loyalty and group solidarity"
IMHO, this stuff is highly relevant to the 'exclusionary class issues' that Lizard Eater raises.

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