Category : Sociology

(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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

(Pew RC) The Age Gap in Religion Around the World

In the United States, religious congregations have been graying for decades, and young adults are now much less religious than their elders. Recent surveys have found that younger adults are far less likely than older generations to identify with a religion, believe in God or engage in a variety of religious practices.

But this is not solely an American phenomenon: Lower religious observance among younger adults is common around the world, according to a new analysis of Pew Research Center surveys conducted in more than 100 countries and territories over the last decade.

Although the age gap in religious commitment is larger in some nations than in others, it occurs in many different economic and social contexts – in developing countries as well as advanced industrial economies, in Muslim-majority nations as well as predominantly Christian states, and in societies that are, overall, highly religious as well as those that are comparatively secular.

For example, adults younger than 40 are less likely than older adults to say religion is “very important” in their lives not only in wealthy and relatively secular countries such as Canada, Japan and Switzerland, but also in countries that are less affluent and more religious, such as Iran, Poland and Nigeria.

While this pattern is widespread, it is not universal.

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Posted in Globalization, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Gallup) 43% of Americans Say Pornography Is Morally Acceptable, up from 36% in 2017

Forty-three percent of Americans now believe pornography is “morally acceptable,” a seven-percentage-point increase from last year and the highest level since Gallup first began measuring moral perceptions of pornography in 2011.

These results come from Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs survey, conducted May 1-10. Since it was first fielded in 2001, this survey has found considerable evidence that Americans are becoming increasingly liberal in terms of what actions or behaviors they find morally acceptable.

From 2011 onward, notable shifts in opinion are apparent for actions such as doctor-assisted suicidegay/lesbian relations, sex between unmarried people and having a baby out of wedlock.

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Posted in Pornography, Sociology

(Gallup) About Half of Americans Say U.S. Moral Values Are ‘Poor’

Forty-nine percent of Americans say the state of moral values in the U.S. is “poor” — the highest percentage in Gallup’s trend on this measure since its inception in 2002. Meanwhile, 37% of U.S. adults say moral values are “only fair,” and 14% say they are “excellent” or “good.”

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Sociology

Pew Research Center–Being Christian in Western Europe

Western Europe, where Protestant Christianity originated and Catholicism has been based for most of its history, has become one of the world’s most secular regions. Although the vast majority of adults say they were baptized, today many do not describe themselves as Christians. Some say they gradually drifted away from religion, stopped believing in religious teachings, or were alienated by scandals or church positions on social issues, according to a major new Pew Research Center survey of religious beliefs and practices in Western Europe.

Yet most adults surveyed still do consider themselves Christians, even if they seldom go to church. Indeed, the survey shows that non-practicing Christians (defined, for the purposes of this report, as people who identify as Christians, but attend church services no more than a few times per year) make up the biggest share of the population across the region. In every country except Italy, they are more numerous than church-attending Christians (those who go to religious services at least once a month). In the United Kingdom, for example, there are roughly three times as many non-practicing Christians (55%) as there are church-attending Christians (18%) defined this way….

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Posted in Europe, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sociology