Ronald Lawson Presents: Adventism and Social Issues

Sociologist Ronald Lawson, Emeritus Professor at Queens College, The City University of New York, spent the second half of his career researching Global Adventism. He has completed over 4,000 “long probing interviews” in 60 countries in all Divisions of the World Church, some of which were visited several times. He has published and presented many articles, 77 of which are available on his website (, where one is added every week, and is working on a series of four books, tentatively titled Apocalypse Postponed, which he hopes to complete “before I die.”

In October and November 2019 Dr. Lawson made five presentations to the Roy Branson Legacy Sabbath School (RBLSS) class at Loma Linda University. In this first video, which was presented on October 5, he introduces his study by invoking “Church-Sect Theory” to understand the evolution of Adventism from “Sect” towards “Denomination” — that is, from considerable tension with society to considerable comfort with it. He then uses that theory as it had not previously been used: to explore the dynamics of the changing attitudes of Adventism towards social issues: the role of women, racial diversity, divorce, living together before marriage, births out of wedlock, polygamy, homosexuality, sexual and physical abuse, and Adventists with HIV.

This presentation by Dr. Ronald Lawson to the Roy Branson Legacy Sabbath School class at Loma Linda University was recorded on October 5, 2019.

WATCH “Adventism and Social Issues” with Ronald Lawson:

This presentation is also available to watch on Dr. Lawson’s website here.

Author Bio:

Ronald Lawson was born and educated in Australia. He earned a BA with Honours in History and a Ph.D. in both Sociology and History from the University of Queensland in 1970. In 1971 he traveled to Columbia University in New York City on a Fulbright Travel Grant for postdoctoral studies in the Sociology Department and the Bureau of Applied Social Research. He taught at the City University of New York from 1971 through 2009, with six years at Hunter College and thirty-three years at Queens College. He became a tenured Full Professor in 1983. His books include Brisbane in the 1890s: An Australian Urban Society (University of Queensland Press, 1973) and The Tenant Movement in New York, 1904–1984 (Rutgers University Press, 1986). Since 1984 his research has focused on globalizing American-born religious groups, especially Seventh-day Adventism, and he is currently preparing a series of four book manuscripts based on research in sixty countries of the World Church. He has published a slew of articles on protest movements, tenant-landlord conflict, Adventists, and American-born religious groups in academic journals and edited books. He has made those related to Adventism available on his website ( As of the end of January 2020 there are 77 papers there, and a new one is added each week.

Ron Lawson was one of the founders of QUSDAS (the Queensland University Seventh-day Adventist Society) in 1962 and its president from 1963-65. He was an active member of the Metro New York Adventist Forum, a chapter that met every week, from 1971-2015, and its president for 41 years. He formed the Asheville Adventist Forum in 2016, and continues to organize its meetings. Along the way he was instrumental in forming several other Forum chapters, including those in Sydney, San Diego, Toronto, and Orlando. He now lives in Loma Linda, California, where he is working towards completing his planned books on global Adventism.

Image: Video still.

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Thanks Ron, greatly appreciated. It clarifies many agendas. Very helpful.

Fascinating, Ron. I must check out your website.

Really, integrated SDA Churches in the South?!

It’s a pleasure to see this post as I’ve enjoyed the papers and posts presented on Ronald Lawson’s website in the past. A recent post entitled “The Two Faces of Adventism” on Jan. 14 is a very good companion to another article published here by Brian Strayer on Adventist Lifestyles. It serves as a reminder that there has been a constant back and forth between a move toward the mainstream and the desire to remain sectarian while Strayer’s article discusses the practical outgrowth of this struggle. Together they show that, contrary to the myth of one historical form of Adventism, a struggle has gone on almost from the beginning.
I look forward to watching these videos.


AKA Abel and Cain…based on form of worship…

i’m altogether uncertain how this aligns with the current tension(s)-
although I AM certain the Abels have co-opted (un)Fundamentalism as their “true” religion, and have consigned we “Cains” to go to, well, hell.

Seems like a fait accompli, for a fate worse than death.

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