Conversations on the Christian to Buddhist Conversion Experience

Lauren Brown

Name: Lauren Brown
Major: Religious Studies
Advisor: Dr. Chan Sok Park
This I.S. uses personal accounts to discuss the experience of the conversion process from Christianity to Buddhism in the U.S. This is based on interviews with five individuals living in the northeast Ohio area, who identified themselves as formerly affiliated with Christian traditions, and currently having a Buddhist one. This study uses Lewis Rambo’s model of religious conversion in his 1993 classic, Understanding Religious Conversion, to frame a discussion of these accounts. First begins a discussion on the context in which the conversion process took place. Then Rambo’s stages are loosely followed to analyze the forms of conflict and unrest felt by individuals which lead to a search or opportunity for new religious connection. The ways in which these interviewees are introduced to Buddhism are then mentioned. Next, Rambo’s stages are used to frame discussion on interviewees’ further involvement with Buddhist teaching and practice, and the variety of displays or feelings of commitment that are involved. Finally, the consequences or effects of the conversion on the individual at the time of the interview are discussed. The analysis of the interviews’ experiences shows that this process of conversion is complex and unique among every individual. This project aims to make an account for these specific individuals in their own context of time and space, and provide a discussion on how to understand their experience of religious transformation.
*I highly encourage reading or skimming through the transcripts of these five individuals, which will be available at https://istranscriptslb21.wordpress.com

Lauren will be online to field comments on April 16:
2-4pm EDT (PST: 11am-1pm, Africa/Europe: evening)

Posted in I.S. Symposium 2021, Independent Study on April 10, 2021.