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conversionism In religious terms, this refers to sudden and dramatic experience of God, which brings about a profound change in a person's religious status. For example, in Protestant, evangelical Christianity, there is an emphasis on personal and emotional experience of God, and thus on the importance of a conversion. In sociological terms, conversion refers to the process by which a person achieves membership of a religious group; it is common to contrast the achievement of Christian membership of a sect by a conversion experience, and of a church by training and ritual. In some branches of Judaism conversion is achieved by circumcision. Sociologists argue that in fact individual conversion is normally preceded by a period of preparation or socialization.

The term can also be used in a more general sense to mean the acquisition of a new role or ideology. This general sense would embrace, for example, the idea of conversion to socialism. See also RELIGIOUS REVIVAL.

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