The Holy Ghost People Sociological Analysis

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The Holy Ghost People by Peter Adair, was created in 1967. It exposes people of the Pentecostal religion, and their unusual rituals and ceremonies that they partake in. While watching the movie I kept on wondering why someone would want to sit through one of their services and participate in such odd rituals and behaviors. After reviewing the sociological theories we have learned in class, I concluded that Durkheim’s Social Consensus theory and Collins Interaction Ritual Chains theory both best explain the motivations for joining and staying in a religion that has such unusual rituals and extreme commitments.
The Pentecostal religion emphasizes baptism in the Holy Spirit, demonstrated through speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing, and exorcism.
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Durkheim explains that religion unite society by providing a structure for communication. Religion also provides a foundation that enforces and regulates rules and norms for the community. He also simplifies that for a social institution of religion to be present there has to be a system of beliefs, sacred rites (or rituals), and a moral community. In the Holy Ghost People, the church practiced rituals such as snake handling, speaking in tongues, witnessing god through convulsive dancing, and poison drinking. Durkheim would explain that these rituals would help the people feel and experience a shared sense of transcendence within their community; Durkheim coins the term “collective effervescence” to describe this feeling. These rituals also create a sense of moral community, in which people conform to, which furthers their purpose and meaning in…show more content…
Through partaking in interaction rituals, individuals become members of something greater than themselves. This feeling of being apart of something greater than oneself provides a moral community for the individuals, which then guides individuals in their beliefs and behaviors. It is similar to a never-ending circle; as individuals see the emotionally charged environment that this religion provides, they want to be a part of it, so they partake in unusual rituals, which furthers their engagement and emotional connectedness to their community. It almost reminds me a bit of an addiction. This community turns objects, such as poison and snakes as sacred, which in turn creates a sacred and profane world. Further strengthening the bond an individual has with the community in order to avoid profanes in the
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