Category : Sociology

(GN) Frank Newport–Why Are Americans Losing Confidence in Organized Religion?

Americans’ confidence in organized religion is down again this year, continuing the gradual deterioration evident over the past several decades. As my colleague Justin McCarthy pointed out in his recent review of Gallup’s annual update on confidence in institutions, 68% of Americans had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the church or organized religion in 1975. As recently as 1985, organized religion was the most revered institution among the list of institutions Gallup tracks. Confidence fell below the majority level for the first time in 2002, and with some fluctuations along the way, confidence this year has reached a new low of 36%.

Organized religion has lost its exceptionalism, and Americans now view it little differently than they view a number of other institutions in contemporary U.S. society. Confidence in organized religion is in the middle of the pack of the 15 institutions tested this year.

It’s important to note that U.S. culture, norms and patterns of social behavior are always in flux, and religion is part of this inevitable cycle of change in the nation’s sociological fabric as years and decades go by. Americans’ confidence in many (but not all) institutions has been declining in recent years, and organized religion is to some degree being swept along with this trend. Out of the 15 institutions measured this year, for example, only three have confidence ratings above the majority level — the military, small business and the police. Americans’ faith in the most important institution of all — government — is at or near all-time lows.

Additionally, we see continuing distrust in big institutions. Americans have more confidence in small business than any other institution, save the military, and consumer trends associated with restaurants and food and beverages are focused on local (“farm to table”) entities. It’s possible that Americans associate “bigness” with what people perceive as “organized religion” — big Protestant denominations and the Catholic Church.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Sociology

(NPR) Church And Clergy Have Fallen Out Of Favor, New Polls Show

TOM GJELTEN, BYLINE: There are several pieces to this story. More people have been saying they have no religious affiliation. Church attendance is down sharply. And now, a new Gallup poll finds that barely 1 in 3 Americans say they have a great deal of confidence in church or organized religion. That’s an all-time low, well below that of other institutions – quite a change from 1973 when the question was first asked.

Mohamed Younis is Gallup’s editor-in-chief.

MOHAMED YOUNIS: It was the institution that garnered the most public confidence compared to all the others, whether it’s the military, police, various branches of government.

GJELTEN: And more sober findings in a poll by The Associated Press and the National Opinion Research Center, NORC – 3 of 4 Americans say they rarely or never consult clergy. Peter Marty, the senior pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa, is not surprised people don’t hold ministers in high regard given how many don’t even set foot in church.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Barna) How Faith Heritage Relates to Faith Practice

A majority of practicing Christians tells Barna they became Christians long before adulthood, usually before they were 12 years old. This is true regardless of the type of household practicing Christians now occupy.

The idea of beliefs that transcend generations is beautiful, but is it also beneficial? That is, does an “inherited” religious identity contribute to the maturation and flourishing of the individual and their faith in the long run? How does this experience compare with that of people who come to Christianity on their own, without positive faith influences in childhood or later in life? The recent Barna report Households of Faith, produced in partnership with Lutheran Hour Ministries, finds some (at times surprising) links between faith heritage and present faith practice.

Most Practicing Christians Say Their Faith Was Passed Down to Them
For most practicing Christian adults in this study, the early, formative days of discipleship occur in their family of origin. (As the goal of this research was to look at faith formation among households, individuals living by themselves are excluded from this study. See the About the Research section for more details about the methodology.) Usually, respondents say Christianity was “passed down” to them by a particular relative (59%), though sometimes another family member was exploring faith around the same time as the respondent (11%). More than half of those who report growing up in the faith (57%) say they were Christian at the time of their birth, a response that is revealing either of their theology or of how extensively Christianity permeated their upbringing.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Church Times) Number of self-identifying Anglicans falls according to latest National Centre for Social Research Report

The number of British people who identify themselves as Anglicans is lower than ever before, the latest figures from the British Social Attitudes survey suggest.

The report, published by the National Centre for Social Research, on Thursday of last week, found that only 12 per cent of respondents would describe themselves as “belonging to the Church of England [or the Church in Wales and Scottish Episcopal Church]”. This figure is down from 14 per cent last year, 22 per cent in 2008, and 40 per cent in 1983, when the survey was first run.

Among 18- to 24-year-olds, just one per cent said that they belonged to the Church, while 33 per cent of those aged 75 and over identified as such. Two per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds identified as Anglican last year (News, 7 September 2018).

An unexpected figure is the rise in those who identified as a non-denominational Christian, which is 13 per cent, up from three per cent in 1998. This means, the report says, that the number “is now equivalent to ‘Church of England’”.

It continues: “Wider research suggests that Britain is becoming more secular not because adults are losing their religion or inclination to practise but because old people with an attachment to the Church of England and other Christian denominations are gradually being replaced in the population by unaffiliated younger people.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(PR FactTank) Many Americans see religious discrimination in U.S. – especially against Muslims

While ideas about religious liberty and tolerance are central to America’s founding and national story, different religious groups – including Catholics, Jews and Mormons – have suffered discrimination in the United States at various points in history. Today, Americans say some religious groups continue to be discriminated against and disadvantaged, according to an analysis of recent Pew Research Center surveys.

Most American adults (82%) say Muslims are subject to at least some discrimination in the U.S. today, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in March – including a majority (56%) who say Muslims are discriminated against a lot.

Among U.S. Muslims themselves, many say they have experienced specific instances of discrimination, including being treated with suspicion, singled out by airport security or called offensive names, according to a 2017 survey of Muslim Americans.

In this year’s survey, roughly two-thirds of Americans (64%) also say Jews face at least some discrimination in the U.S., up 20 percentage points from the last time this question was asked in 2016. More say Jews face some discrimination than a lot (39% vs. 24%).

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Islam, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(NPR) U.S. Births Fell To A (NPR) 32-Year Low In 2018; CDC Says Birthrate Is In Record Slump

The U.S. birthrate fell again in 2018, to 3,788,235 births — representing a 2% drop from 2017. It’s the lowest number of births in 32 years, according to a new federal report. The numbers also sank the U.S. fertility rate to a record low.

Not since 1986 has the U.S. seen so few babies born. And it’s an ongoing slump: 2018 was the fourth consecutive year of birth declines, according to the provisional birthrate report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Birthrates fell for nearly all racial and age groups, with only slight gains for women in their late 30s and early 40s, the CDC says.

The news has come as something of a surprise to demographers who say that with the U.S. economy and job market continuing a years-long growth streak, they had expected the birthrate to show signs of stabilizing, or even rising. But instead, the drop could force changes to forecasts about how the country will look — with an older population and fewer young workers to sustain key social systems.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sociology, Theology

(Economist) No sex please, we’re millennials–A visitor from the 1990s marvels at the social conservatism on American campuses

The problem seems to be a profound anxiety about what the other party to a potential coupling might want and expect. The heavy stress that all the students laid on the importance of mutually agreeing the basis of any relationship, at every stage of its development, is probably both a cause and effect of this. Dating apps, which around half the students had used, can mitigate it at best. It is likely a response to increased female empowerment, the major change in sexual politics, and therefore further exacerbated by men’s dread of a #MeToo-style harassment charge. In short, young American men with rather poor interpersonal skills currently face a historically confusing mating-game, even as they worry a lot about their careers. No wonder many are opting to stick to their video games.

This is painful. But it does at least suggest that sexual relations are not so much hitting the skids in America as in flux. The forces that govern sexual behaviour are dynamic. Who could have predicted a little over a decade ago, when George W. Bush was splurging on abstinence schemes, that America would soon see a spike in celibacy fuelled by economics, technology, female empowerment and perhaps even casual sex? And that cocktail of circumstances will not last. The economy is strong. The currents in popular culture will shift. And once young Americans become more used to their more equal gender relations, they might re-embrace the degree of ambiguity and risk that romance entails. That is the hope, at least. Meanwhile, they might try putting down their phones, talking face to face a bit more, and even flirting.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Sexuality, Sociology, Young Adults

Glenn Stanton–No, Non-Believers Are Not Increasing In America

First, the “nones” are certainly not a new group of unbelievers exiting the pews of our nation’s churches. They are merely a group who are identifying more accurately what they have always been, those without any real religious practice.

Dr. Ed Stetzer, who holds the distinguished Billy Graham Chair of Church, Missions, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, has given one of the best clarifying explanations of the nones that I’ve seen. In USA Today, he wrote that “Christianity isn’t collapsing, it’s being clarified.”

He is precisely right. He further explains, “Nominal Christians are becoming the nones and convictional Christians remain committed.” This is the precise secret to understanding what’s going on. Weak Christianity is getting weaker and robust, and orthodox Christianity is getting stronger in terms of adherents, if not by theological maturity.

The nones are simply those who until recently would have identified with a Christian denomination just because that’s what their family has always been. But their pastors know they are just CEO Christians (Christmas and Easter Only). Beyond that, it’s crickets attendance-wise. Even though most are inactive, many do hold some cold-to-lukewarm Christian beliefs in the back of their minds. According to Pew, almost a third say that religion is indeed important to them. So the nones are not some new and growing crowd of atheists, agnostics, or unbelievers.

Other leading sociologists of religion report the same thing. Rodney Stark of Baylor University, one of the world’s leading and most distinguished scholars in this field, gives the same explanation in his important book, “The Triumph of Faith: Why the World Is More Religious Than Ever”: “Today, when asked their religious preference, instead of saying Methodist or Catholic, now a larger proportion of non-attenders say ‘none,’ by which they most seem to mean ‘no actual membership.’”

Stark gets more precise: “The entire change [toward none-ness] has taken place with the non-attending group.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(The Arda) The caring evangelical: New studies question stereotypes

In the study on empathy and political orientation, researchers from the University of Toronto, University of Calgary and the University of Texas, San Antonio, analyzed data from the 2004 General Social Survey.

They found that self-identified political conservatives scored lower on measures of empathy than self-identified political liberals.

But those differences disappeared as conservatives reported higher levels of belief in a loving, supportive God engaged in their lives, or prayed frequently or were regular worship attenders.

“These patterns suggest that religious institutions and the beliefs and practices they socialize might provide multiple pathways to bolster social‐psychological processes like empathy,” researchers said.

In the other study, researchers from Texas A&M and the University of Minnesota analyzed data from the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey to determine five basic conceptions Americans have of God, from the divine as a non-entity to a loving God concerned with human beings.

The largest group consisted of those who viewed God as a loving, nonjudgmental deity who is engaged with humanity. The next two largest groups were those who perceived God as a loving deity who is neither judgmental nor engaged with humanity and those who viewed God as loving, engaged and judgmental.

What did not gain much traction is the idea of God as punishing and judgmental.

“We find little evidence that respondents perceived God to be only an angry entity,” researchers reported. “Instead, much of the variation among the three classes that imply a robust God revolves around how God’s tendencies toward judgment and engagement with humanity intersect with love.”

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Pew RC) Race in America 2019

More than 150 years after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States, most U.S. adults say the legacy of slavery continues to have an impact on the position of black people in American society today. More than four-in-ten say the country hasn’t made enough progress toward racial equality, and there is some skepticism, particularly among blacks, that black people will ever have equal rights with whites, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Opinions about the current state of race relations – and President Donald Trump’s handling of the issue – are also negative. About six-in-ten Americans (58%) say race relations in the U.S. are bad, and of those, few see them improving. Some 56% think the president has made race relations worse; just 15% say he has improved race relations and another 13% say he has tried but failed to make progress on this issue. In addition, roughly two-thirds say it’s become more common for people to express racist views since Trump became president.

Blacks are particularly gloomy about the country’s racial progress. More than eight-in-ten black adults say the legacy of slavery affects the position of black people in America today, including 59% who say it affects it a great deal. About eight-in-ten blacks (78%) say the country hasn’t gone far enough when it comes to giving black people equal rights with whites, and fully half say it’s unlikely that the country will eventually achieve racial equality.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Race/Race Relations, Sociology

(Barna) The Link Between Fun & Faith in Our Homes

A game in the park with the kids. A backyard barbecue with neighbors. A Saturday afternoon spent tackling that yardwork you and your roommate have been putting off. These are all things that might make their way onto your household’s to-do list this time of year, as spring’s arrival makes it easier to spend more time outdoors or being active together. These are also things that, new Barna research shows, often coexist with spiritual vibrancy. The Households of Faith report, produced in partnership with Lutheran Hour Ministries and based on an extensive study of practicing Christians and their living arrangements, finds a consistent connection between households that prioritize quality time and households that prioritize faith formation.

Generally Active Households Are Spiritually Active Households
If we’re regarding any effort toward faith formation in the household as an outcome on its own, and if we’re seeking to understand what distinguishes the people who prioritize these efforts, it’s instructive to know that they are the same people who appear to make any activity a priority. Welcoming guests, watching TV, sharing breakfast and other routines and rituals are also common in households that carve out time to read the Bible, pray or talk about God together. Conversely, households that do not engage in faith-based group activities are much more likely to say they don’t do anything together (31% of those who do not have spiritual conversations, 23% of those who do not pray or read the Bible together).

In short, practicing Christians who intentionally cultivate a spiritual environment in their household are simply intentional to begin with. Good fun, good work and good faith seem to go hand in hand, indicating spiritual growth is yet another way of being present, interested and engaged in the lives of those around you, or vice versa. Barna has seen a similar correlation in some of its other reports, where positive tendencies are not exclusive, but hang together: In a study of perceptions of global poverty, the more someone cared about one issue, the more they cared about any injustice; in a study of vocation, the more someone was attuned to faith, the more they were attuned to their work. Similarly, in this study of Christian households, the more housemates engage in general activity, the more they engage in spiritual activity.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Gallup) Most Americans Support Reducing Fossil Fuel Use

While the future of the Green New Deal proposed in Congress is uncertain, most Americans support the general idea of dramatically reducing the country’s use of fossil fuels over the next two decades as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change. Six in 10 U.S. adults say they would “strongly favor” (27%) or “favor” (33%) policies with this energy goal, while fewer than four in 10 say they would “oppose” (19%) or “strongly oppose” (17%) them.

Support for rapidly slashing the country’s use of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal is significantly higher among Democrats (80%) and independents (60%) than among Republicans (37%).

These data are from Gallup’s annual Environment poll, conducted March 1-10.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sociology, Stewardship

(Wash Post) It’s not just you: New data shows more than half of young people in America don’t have a romantic partner

Austin Spivey, a 24-year-old woman in Washington, has been looking for a relationship for years. She’s been on several dating apps – OkCupid, Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge, Tinder, Bumble. She’s on a volleyball team, where she has a chance to meet people with similar interests in a casual setting. She’s even let The Washington Post set her up.

“I’m a very optimistic dater,” Spivey says, adding that she’s “always energetic to keep trying.” But it can get a little frustrating, she adds, when she’s talking to someone on a dating app and they disappear mid-conversation. (She’s vanished too, she admits.)

Spivey has a lot of company in her frustration, and in her singledom. Just over half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 – 51 percent of them – said they do not have a steady romantic partner, according to data from the General Social Survey released this week. That 2018 figure is up significantly from 33 percent in 2004 – the lowest figure since the question was first asked in 1986 – and up slightly from 45 percent in 2016. The shift has helped drive singledom to a record high among the overall public, among whom 35 percent say they have no steady partner, but only up slightly from 33 percent in 2016 and 2014.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Sociology, Young Adults

(RNS) ‘Nones’ now as big as evangelicals and R Catholics in the U.S.

In a shift that stands to impact both religion and politics, survey data suggests that the percentage of Americans who don’t affiliate with any specific religious tradition is now roughly the same as those who identify as evangelical or Catholic.

According to newly released General Social Survey data analyzed by Ryan P. Burge of Eastern Illinois University, Americans claiming “no religion” — sometimes referred to as “nones” because of how they answer the question “what is your religious tradition?” — now represent about 23.1 percent of the population, up from 21.6 percent in 2016. People claiming evangelicalism, by contrast, now represent 22.5 percent of Americans, a slight dip from 23.9 percent in 2016.

That makes the two groups statistically tied with Catholics (23 percent) as the largest religious — or nonreligious — groupings in the country.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Sociology

(CT) The Church Growth Gap: The Big Get Bigger While the Small Get Smaller

A new study from Exponential by LifeWay Research found 6 in 10 Protestant churches are plateaued or declining in attendance and more than half saw fewer than 10 people become new Christians in the past 12 months.

“Growth is not absent from American churches,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “But rapid growth through conversions is uncommon.”

The research gives a clear picture of the state of Protestant churches in America today. Most have fewer than 100 people attending services each Sunday (57%), including 21 percent who average fewer than 50. Around 1 in 10 churches (11%) average 250 or more for their worship services.

Three in five (61%) pastors say their churches faced a decline in worship attendance or growth of 5 percent or less in the last three years. Almost half (46%) say their giving decreased or stayed the same from 2017 to 2018.

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Posted in Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(BP) Rapid church growth through conversions uncommon according to a Lifeway Research Study

Many churches in the United States are not seeing new faces in the pews, a new study reveals.

Six in 10 Protestant churches are plateaued or declining in attendance, and more than half saw fewer than 10 people become new Christians in the past 12 months, the study shows.

LifeWay Research conducted the study for Exponential, a Virginia-based organization focusing on resources for church planting and multiplication.

“Growth is not absent from American churches,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “But rapid growth through conversions is uncommon.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(PRC) Religion’s Relationship to Happiness, Civic Engagement and Health Around the World

Taking a broad, international approach to this complicated topic, Pew Research Center researchers set out to determine whether religion has clearly positive, negative or mixed associations with eight different indicators of individual and societal well-being available from international surveys conducted over the past decade. Specifically, this report examines survey respondents’ self-assessed levels of happiness, as well as five measures of individual health and two measures of civic participation.2

By dividing people into three categories, the study also seeks to isolate whether religious affiliation or religious participation – or both, or neither – is associated with happiness, health and civic engagement. The three categories are: “Actively religious,” made up of people who identify with a religious group and say they attend services at least once a month (sometimes called “actives”); “inactively religious,” defined as those who claim a religious identity but attend services less often (also called “inactives”); and “religiously unaffiliated,” people who do not identify with any organized religion (sometimes called “nones”).3

This analysis finds that in the U.S. and many other countries around the world, regular participation in a religious community clearly is linked with higher levels of happiness and civic engagement (specifically, voting in elections and joining community groups or other voluntary organizations). This may suggest that societies with declining levels of religious engagement, like the U.S., could be at risk for declines in personal and societal well-being. But the analysis finds comparatively little evidence that religious affiliation, by itself, is associated with a greater likelihood of personal happiness or civic involvement.

Read it all.

Posted in Globalization, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(PRC FactTank) Defining generations: Where Millennials end and Generation Z begins

In this progression, what is unique for Generation Z is that all of the above have been part of their lives from the start. The iPhone launched in 2007, when the oldest Gen Zers were 10. By the time they were in their teens, the primary means by which young Americans connected with the web was through mobile devices, WiFi and high-bandwidth cellular service. Social media, constant connectivity and on-demand entertainment and communication are innovations Millennials adapted to as they came of age. For those born after 1996, these are largely assumed.

The implications of growing up in an “always on” technological environment are only now coming into focus. Recent research has shown dramatic shifts in youth behaviors, attitudes and lifestyles – both positive and concerning – for those who came of age in this era. What we don’t know is whether these are lasting generational imprints or characteristics of adolescence that will become more muted over the course of their adulthood. Beginning to track this new generation over time will be of significant importance.

Pew Research Center is not the first to draw an analytical line between Millennials and the generation to follow them, and many have offered well-reasoned arguments for drawing that line a few years earlier or later than where we have. Perhaps, as more data are collected over the years, a clear, singular delineation will emerge. We remain open to recalibrating if that occurs. But more than likely the historical, technological, behavioral and attitudinal data will show more of a continuum across generations than a threshold. As has been the case in the past, this means that the differences within generations can be just as great as the differences across generations, and the youngest and oldest within a commonly defined cohort may feel more in common with bordering generations than the one to which they are assigned. This is a reminder that generations themselves are inherently diverse and complex groups, not simple caricatures.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Sociology, Young Adults

(Gallup) Seven in 10 Maintain Negative View of U.S. Healthcare System

Seventy percent of Americans describe the current U.S. healthcare system as being “in a state of crisis” or having “major problems.” This is consistent with the 65% to 73% range for this figure in all but one poll since Gallup first asked the question in 1994.

In that one poll — conducted right after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 — just 49% of Americans said the U.S. healthcare system had major problems or was in crisis. This was because of Americans’ heightened concerns about terrorism after the attacks, which temporarily altered their views and behaviors on a variety of issues.

The latest data are from Gallup’s annual Healthcare poll, conducted Nov. 1-11.

Read it all.

Posted in --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Sociology, Theology

(MB) David Zahl–The De-sexing Of The American Teenager

In a nutshell, despite the fact that our culture has never been more open about and encouraging of sexual expression–almost to a compulsory extent–American teenagers and young adults are having considerably less sex than they used to. From 1991 to 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that the percentage of high-school students who’d had intercourse dropped from 54 to 40 percent. Meanwhile, the U.S. teen pregnancy rate plummeted to a third of its modern high. Wowza.

As someone who’s spent the better part of 20 years working with teenagers and college students, I’ve seen too much damage to see these developments as anything but a net positive. And that’s independent of any theological or even personal parenting concerns. (Just watch Mid90s). And yet, as Julian reports, the decline signals something troubling as well, not only a corresponding rise in anxiety and loneliness but a de-prioritizing–or forced retreat from–intimacy and love itself, with all the unhappiness that accompanies otherforms of disembodiment. What gives? Julian asked around:

Over the course of my research, I was told the sex recession might be a consequence of the hookup culture, of crushing economic pressures, of surging anxiety rates, of psychological frailty, of widespread antidepressant use, of streaming television, of environmental estrogens leaked by plastics, of dropping testosterone levels, of digital porn, of dating apps, of option paralysis, of helicopter parents, of careerism, of smartphones, of the news cycle, of information overload generally, of sleep deprivation, of obesity. Name a modern blight, and someone, somewhere, is ready to blame it for messing with the modern libido.

Sounds about right to me, though I might underline the porn aspect and add schizophrenic attitudes about sex itself to the list. And who knows how much of a chicken-vs-egg dimension there is here–probably quite a bit. But one thing all of the researchers she consults do agree on is that the decline in physical intimacy has to do with a decrease in romantic relationships among teenagers. That is, despite the (largely unfounded) alarmism about hookup culture and dating apps, the real issue is that young people no longer couple off in the same way. The less relationships, the less sex. To wit, I for one was unaware that the highest reported rate of teen pregnancy occurred in 1957, when anxiety over the WWII-induced male shortage led to an increase in serious teenage relationships. Compare that with today:

In 1995, the large longitudinal study known as “Add Health” found that 66 percent of 17-year-old men and 74 percent of 17-year-old women had experienced “a special romantic relationship” in the past 18 months. In 2014, when the Pew Research Center asked 17-year-olds whether they had “ever dated, hooked up with or otherwise had a romantic relationship with another person”—seemingly a broader category than the earlier one—only 46 percent said yes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Psychology, Sexuality, Sociology, Teens / Youth

(Barna) What Faith Looks Like in the Workplace

In the famous Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, Jesus tells his followers to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.” But what does this look like in the modern workplace? How are working Christians, from the boardroom to the classroom, heeding this call from the New Testament? In Barna’s recently released study on vocation, produced in partnership with Abilene Christian University, we found encouraging signs that Christians are living out their faith with integrity. Previously on Barna.com, we’ve covered data about the sacred value Christians perceive in their professions, the challenges working parents face and the Church’s important role in encouraging faith and work integration. Here, we’ll look at the specific values and virtues that define today’s Christians’ work ethic.

Encouragingly, working Christians say they hold to standards and virtues of professional integrity that represent the Church well. They are rooted in a conviction that Christians should act ethically (82%), speak the truth (74%) and demonstrate morality (72%). On an even more spiritual level, respondents say working Christians should make friends with non-Christians (66%), withstand temptation (59%) and do excellent work in an effort to bring glory to God (58%). Most believe people of faith should be guided by an attitude of humility (63%) and service (53%), while also looking out for others by speaking out against unfairness or injustice in the workplace (53%) and bringing grace and peace to others (48%). The trend is clear: most employed Christians want to do good in their places of work—but not always in a way that stands out. They appear less inclined to see it as their responsibility to be influential: one-third believes they should help mold the culture of their workplace (35%). In addition, only one-quarter says sharing the gospel is a responsibility (24%), pointing to a general wariness of speaking explicitly about faith, an attitude not uncommon in today’s climate. However, the more exemplary Christian workers in this study show more spiritual boldness with a higher willingness to share the gospel than the average Christian worker.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(PewR) Eastern and Western Europeans Differ on Importance of Religion, Views of Minorities, and Key Social Issues

The Iron Curtain that once divided Europe may be long gone, but the continent today is split by stark differences in public attitudes toward religion, minorities and social issues such as gay marriage and legal abortion. Compared with Western Europeans, fewer Central and Eastern Europeans would welcome Muslims or Jews into their families or neighborhoods, extend the right of marriage to gay or lesbian couples or broaden the definition of national identity to include people born outside their country.

These differences emerge from a series of surveys conducted by Pew Research Center between 2015 and 2017 among nearly 56,000 adults (ages 18 and older) in 34 Western, Central and Eastern European countries, and they continue to divide the continent more than a decade after the European Union began to expand well beyond its Western European roots to include, among others, the Central European countries of Poland and Hungary, and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Read it all.

Posted in Europe, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Pewr FactTank) 6 facts about America’s students

America’s students are more racially and ethnically diverse than ever, while teachers remain overwhelmingly white. In fall 2015, the share of nonwhite students in U.S. public elementary and secondary schools hit a record 51%. That’s up from 30% in fall 1986. Growth has been especially fast among Hispanic students, who increased from 10% of students in 1986 to 26% in 2015.

At the same time, nonwhites continue to make up a relatively small share of teachers: In the 2015-16 school year, just 20% of public school elementary and secondary teachers were nonwhite, up from 13% in 1987-88. (In 2015, 39% of all Americans were nonwhite.)

While America’s overall student body has become more diverse, many nonwhite students go to public schools where at least half of their peers are of their race or ethnicity. Large shares of blacks (44%) and Hispanics (57%) attend public schools where people of their own race or ethnicity make up at least half the student body. Meanwhile, whites – who continue to make up a larger share of overall U.S. public school students than any other race or ethnicity – tend to go to schools where half or more of students are white.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Education, Sociology

(Barna) The Ups and Downs of Parish Ministry

Pastoral ministry certainly has its peaks and valleys, but overall, most pastors are very satisfied with their vocation and feel energized and supported in their work. They particularly love preaching and teaching—a task most feel they are good at—but are regularly frustrated with the lack of commitment among their parishioners. In partnership with Pepperdine University, Barna conducted a major study—The State of Pastors—of how Protestant senior pastors in the U.S. navigate life and leadership in an age of complexity. In this infographic, pastors weigh in on the best and worst parts of their job.

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Posted in Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(PewR FactTank) Americans are far more religious than adults in other wealthy nations

In 1966, Time magazine famously examined whether the United States was on a path to secularization when it published its now-iconic “Is God Dead?” cover. However, the question proved premature: The U.S. remains a robustly religious country and the most devout of all the rich Western democracies.

In fact, Americans pray more often, are more likely to attend weekly religious services and ascribe higher importance to faith in their lives than adults in other wealthy, Western democracies, such as Canada, Australia and most European states, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.

For instance, more than half of American adults (55%) say they pray daily, compared with 25% in Canada, 18% in Australia and 6% in Great Britain. (The average European country stands at 22%.) Actually, when it comes to their prayer habits, Americans are more like people in many poorer, developing nations – including South Africa (52%), Bangladesh (57%) and Bolivia (56%) – than people in richer countries.

As it turns out, the U.S. is the only country out of 102 examined in the study that has higher-than-average levels of both prayer and wealth. In every other country surveyed with a gross domestic product of more than $30,000 per person, fewer than 40% of adults say they pray every day.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Sociology

(CEN) New survey reveals what Britons think of Christians

Only 38 per cent of UK adults disagree that being an atheist or non-religious is more normal than being a Christian, according to a Com-Res survey.

The survey on perceptions of Christianity in the UK found that 28 per cent of respondents believe that being an atheist or non-religious is more normal than being a Christian, while 48 per cent of respondents neither agreed nor disagreed.

The survey showed that while 22 per cent of those aged 65 or over agreed with the statement, the figure rose to 34 per cent of 18-24-year-olds, the highest figure between the age groups.

Some 33 per cent of people who never go to church agreed with this statement, the highest among the categories, while the next biggest (31 per cent) was among those who go three to four times a week, compared with 20 per cent of regular churchgoers and 9 out of 12 (72 per cent) of those who attend services every day.

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Posted in England / UK, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(PewR) Income Inequality in the U.S. Is Rising Most Rapidly Among Asians

Income inequality, a measure of the economic gap between the rich and poor, has risen steadily in the United States since the 1970s. More recently, the issue burst into public consciousness with the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011 and subsequent calls for a $15 minimum wage. An important part of the story of rising income inequality is that experiences within America’s racial and ethnic communities vary strikingly from one group to the other.

Today, income inequality in the U.S. is greatest among Asians. From 1970 to 2016, the gap in the standard of living between Asians near the top and the bottom of the income ladder nearly doubled, and the distribution of income among Asians transformed from being one of the most equal to being the most unequal among America’s major racial and ethnic groups.

In this process, Asians displaced blacks as the most economically divided racial or ethnic group in the U.S., according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. While Asians overall rank as the highest earning racial and ethnic group in the U.S., it is not a status shared by all Asians: From 1970 to 2016, the gains in income for lower-income Asians trailed well behind the gains for their counterparts in other groups.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Economy, Personal Finance, Sociology

(Gallup) Confidence in the church or organized religion at an all-time low

The 2018 Confidence in Institutions ratings are broadly similar to a year ago, but with a few notable shifts.

Confidence in the church or organized religion is down three points to 38%. This is another all-time low for an institution whose highly positive image has been shrinking since its peak 68% great deal/quite a lot confidence rating in 1975. The church had been the top rated institution in the 1973-1985 surveys. The last year a majority of Americans expressed high confidence in the church was 2009.

As low as confidence in the church has sunk, it is still one of the nation’s top rated institutions and has higher positive than negative ratings, with 27% of U.S. adults saying they have very little or no confidence in it.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Sociology

(CT) New Research: Churchgoers Stick Around for Theology, Not Music or Preachers

Most churchgoers will put up with a change in music style or a different preacher.

But don’t mess with a church’s beliefs or there may be an exodus, according to a new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

The study of Protestant churchgoers found most are committed to staying at their church over the long haul. But more than half say they would strongly consider leaving if the church’s beliefs changed.

Pastors often worry about changing church music and setting off a “worship war,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. But few say they would leave over music.

Churchgoers are much more concerned about their church’s beliefs.

“Mess with the music and people may grumble,” he said. “Mess with theology and they’re out the door.”

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Posted in Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

(CEN) Peter Brierley–Marital muddle

In the year 2000, two-thirds, 67 per cent, of religious marriages were Anglican (Church of England or Church in Wales), 12 per cent Roman Catholic, 18 per cent Other Christian, and 3 per cent other religions.

In 2015 these percentages were, respectively, 73 per cent, 11 per cent, 11 per cent and 5 per cent.The declining number of “Other Christian” marriages (in numerical terms, down three-fifths, 61 per cent), reflects the ageing factor in some of these denominations, especially Methodists and the URC, as fewer older people get married.

However, the fact that these percentages have not varied substantially means that the smaller number of religious marriages now taking place simply mirrors the smaller number of marriages generally: the number of marriages in England and Wales have been declining since 1970 (439,000 in 1970, 215,000 in 2015). The proportion cohabiting instead has increased.

Do religious couples cohabit before marriage?Yes, cohabiting prior to marriage is now extremely common for both civil and religious couples.American research found 65 per cent agreed it was a good idea to live with one another before getting married (88 per cent non-Christian, 41 per cent practising Christian, but only 6 per cent evangelicals).

Seven-eighths, 88 per cent, had previously cohabited when they married in 2015, according to ONS figures (90 per cent civil marriages, 81 per cent religious marriages).Cohabitation preceded marriage for 80 per cent of civil marriages in 1995.v

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology