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Unity presents a prime example of an American religion which was born in the free market religious economy of the late 19th century, and which continues to grow because it meets the particular needs of a distinct subculture of Americans. The Unity movement fits well in the new sociological open market paradigm in which the religious marketplace is pluralistic, and churches are structurally adaptable and empowering to individuals and groups.

Although Unity draws people from all walks of life, its disproportionate appeal to certain groups is likely to be related to the positive and flexible message of health, prosperity, success and divine guidance. Demographically, Unity appeals disproportionately to women, divorced people, the highly educated, and professionals and managers. In the area of belief, Unity's philosophy meshes well with a distinct group of seekers who want their religion to corroborate their individualism, their mysticism and their desire for experience and practical expression of spirituality. It reaches out well to lay liberals who are not dogmatic about their faith and who see Christianity as one of many paths to God.

This chapter will summarize the most significant findings of this research and review the implications for Unity as well as for mainline churches. Finally, directions for future research will be outlined.

© 1997, Rebecca Gittrich Whitecotton
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.