Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Why do prisoners convert to Christianity?

I came across an article "Why God Is Often Found Behind Bars: Prison Conversions and the Crisis of Self-Narrative." (Citation)

The authors interviewed 75 prisoners who had converted to religion in prison, and the resulting narratives had several themes:.

As summarized in the abstract, prisoners converted because:
- creates a new social identity to replace the label of prisoner or criminal,
- imbues the experience of imprisonment with purpose and meaning,
- empowers the largely powerless prisoner by turning him into an agent of God,
- provides the prisoner with a language and framework for forgiveness, and
- allows a sense of control over an unknown future.

Interesting. Some of them are similar to conversion narratives from the general population. The one about forgiveness seems particularly suited for the prison situation.

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