Lauren Brown

Conversations on the Christian to Buddhist Conversion Experience

April 10, 2021   /  

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

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

23 thoughts on “Conversations on the Christian to Buddhist Conversion Experience”

  1. So proud of all the work you have done on your IS, Lauren. It is impressive and important and I am interested in your research. The methodology is interesting as is your description of the project.

  2. Oh Lauren…OHHH LAUREN….. I love this! Bless you for typing out all of those transcriptions, first of all.

    What I love most about this project, I think, is it could be so useful for so many different people! For religious scholars trying to understand folks who convert, but also for people feeling that “crisis” stage and looking for guidance from people who have been down that road before. Your project and the interviews could help someone on their path to religious connection which is such a big deal! I think I’ve mentioned to you at some point that I’ve been learning more about Zen over the last few months (…have I told you this actually? I dunno.) so I FOR ONE am really excited to read these transcripts.

    PROUDA YOU! Here, this is for you:

    ….. (¯`v´¯)♥
    … (
    / \ ♥♥

  3. So eloquent! You are so intelligent! Nice backdrop too 😛

    My question is: Did your study abroad experience with Buddhism change your relationship with your own religion in any way? Were you able to relate to your interviewees at all?

  4. Congratulations Lauren!

    This is really excellent work. Knowing some of the origins of this project, way back in Junior IS, I am super impressed with how you have developed and carried this fascinating work!

    Best of Luck Moving Forward!

  5. Hi Lauren,
    First, your voice is calming!! Second, can you talk a little bit more about what makes Buddhism adaptable? Our chats about religion have been a highlight of the semester, and I can’t wait for more during our NYC romps 🙂

  6. Lauren, your commitment to this thorough and thoughtful project is so inspiring! It’s obvious that this is something you care about on a personal level, which is the most important aspect of all. I’m so grateful that I got to complete this process by your side! You are so brilliant, and I’m so impressed by you and all that you are in so many aspects of your life. I’m so proud to call you my friend. Thanks for sticking by me!

  7. Lauren, it’s been my great joy to work with you on this important project, and congratulations on what you are presenting to us here! The companion blog page looks also great.

    As I know how important the topic of this project is to you both academically and personally, I am so proud of what you have achieved this year in spite of all the huddles. We will get a chance to talk more about where to go from here soon.

  8. Great work and impressive presentation, Lauren! You articulate your ideas clearly and cohesively. It’s obvious you put a lot of care and effort into your work!

    Wishing you success, fulfillment and peace in your future endeavors!

    Gina Bedell

  9. Lauren — congratulations on completing this excellent project, and thank you for sharing it today, so that many others can get a glimpse of what you have been working on. It’s been a great experience for me to be associated with your project as you have developed and completed it. You made an excellent presentation here. I also really appreciate that you provided the interview transcripts in the associated blog. It’s outstanding work and so well presented. Thank you!

  10. Lauren, this is great work. Thanks!
    It’s interesting to see how some of the interviewees see “being a Christian” and how that model defines religion for them as individual, personal and emotional. Also appreciate the theory of conversion you discuss in your talk.

  11. remember when we literally did no work at all until the last second it was due? Look at you now! This is the most intriguing set of transcriptions and personal work, I can’t wait to explore them all in more depth. I know that this is much more than an academic venture for you, so it makes it all the more exciting for us to interact with. I am so proud of you and have second-hand relief that the typing is over. see you soon!

  12. This is an interesting in-depth study, and you explain it so clearly. I found the couple’s interviews particularly interesting. They both converted, but not actually “together”. Did you interview them together, separately, or some of both? Did your study discuss the effects of their conversion experiences on each other?
    I am also curious about how your experiences in India and as a Buddhist nun influenced your experiences in doing this research.
    Congratulations on a scholarly examination of a subject that you clearly sunk your teeth into. I am very proud of your accomplishments! Tootsie rolls to you! Wear your “I survived IS” shirt with pride!

  13. Lauren, this is a cool topic for your I.S. It’s so great to learn what you’re passionate about. Nice job!

  14. Thank you for sharing your research and transcripts on the conversion experience of Buddhists. What was the most exciting part of this project for you?

    Congratulations, Lauren!

  15. Congratulations! This subject is close to my heart and experience. Thank you for your thoughtful, respectful inquiry. I appreciate it.

  16. This is so rad!!! I’m really proud of you for sticking through all this stuff Lauren, I know it took a lot of work. I’m excited to read through the transcripts, and I hope you feel proud of yourself for completing such a ambitious project.

  17. Congratulations, Lauren, on completing your Senior I.S.! This very impressive work and I admire the respectful way that you approach the individual experiences of your informants.

    I wish your every success in the future!
    Prof. P.

  18. Lauren, a fascinating and well executed project. Thank you for teaching me so much!

  19. Wonderful work Lala!! This was a really interesting topic and really captivating. Good luck and all the best. YES YOU CAN

  20. Amazing to see the research you’ve done this last year, I’ve learned so much from your work! You’re doing awesome things Lauren, I’m so proud!

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