Category : Sociology

(Barna) 3 Insights to Help Pastors Care for Their Church This Season

Barna data show that pastors across the U.S. feel a sense of responsibility when it comes to caring for their church members during crisis. In a year that has been marked by uncertainty, distance and trauma, pastors are likely facing even greater pressure to support and guide their people—perhaps while their own mental and emotional well-being are also suffering.

As a difficult year comes to a close and a challenging holiday season continues, let’s examine findings from three recent Barna studies that could help pastors as they think through caring for their congregants—and themselves—during crisis.

Most pastors agree that trauma is an issue the Church should address, but many church leaders have had little to no training in the way of trauma care. Data from Barna’s recent report created in partnership with American Bible Society—Trauma in America—show that the majority of Protestant pastors (73%) indicates they feel “somewhat” equipped to help someone in their congregation who may be dealing with significant trauma. Only one in seven (15%) feels “very” well-equipped, while 12 percent do not feel equipped at all.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Gallup) Americans’ Mental Health Ratings Sink to New Low

Americans’ latest assessment of their mental health is worse than it has been at any point in the last two decades. Seventy-six percent of U.S. adults rate their mental health positively, representing a nine-point decline from 2019.

Each year since 2001, Gallup has asked Americans as part of its November Health and Healthcare survey to say whether their own mental or emotional wellbeing is excellent, good, only fair or poor. The reading for those rating their mental health as excellent or good ranged from 81% to 89% until this year’s 76%.

Although the majority of U.S. adults continue to rate their mental health as excellent (34%) or good (42%), and far fewer say it is only fair (18%) or poor (5%), the latest excellent ratings are eight points lower than Gallup has measured in any prior year.

The latest weakening in positive ratings, from a Nov. 5-19 poll, are undoubtedly influenced by the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to profoundly disrupt people’s lives, but may also reflect views of the election and the state of race relations, both of which were on Americans’ minds this year.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Sociology

(Wash Post) Bradford Wilcox+Lyman Stone–Divorce is down, despite covid-19

Judging by recent media coverage, Dan would seem to be the poster child for a wave of pandemic-related divorces that have swept America since March. “Why the coronavirus pandemic is leading so many couples to divorce,” read one New York Post headline this spring. The New York Times recently took a similar line: “Considering a Coronavirus Divorce? You’re in Good Company.”

But in real life, the net effects of the pandemic are not nearly as negative as many media reports would suggest.

Consider Katie, a 37-year-old wife and mother living in Virginia. The lockdown was initially stressful for her and her husband as they scrambled to forge a new schedule to cover their two jobs and child care for their toddler. But once they rearranged their schedule, things got better — in part because her husband took on a greater share of child care than he had prior to the pandemic and in part because they began taking walks and talking more in covid time. “It may sound strange, but the stay-at-home order and pandemic truly strengthened our marriage,” Katie observed.

Distress about the state of our unions certainly seems warranted. The tensions arising from being with your partner all day, every day; the disagreements about how to handle sanitation, socializing and schooling; and the stresses occasioned by lost lives, lost jobs and political tempests seem to never end. A major new survey of American families, the American Family Survey (AFS), found that 34 percent of married men and women ages 18 to 55 report the pandemic has increased stress in their marriage.

Yet Katie is not alone. Most married people in America report their unions have gotten stronger, not weaker, in the wake of covid-19. The AFS found that 58 percent of married men and women 18 to 55 said the pandemic has made them appreciate their spouse more, while 51 percent said their commitment to marriage had deepened. Only 8 percent said that the pandemic had weakened their commitment to one another.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Sociology

(PRC) U.S. Image Plummets Internationally as Most Say Country Has Handled Coronavirus Badly

Since Donald Trump took office as president, the image of the United States has suffered across many regions of the globe. As a new 13-nation Pew Research Center survey illustrates, America’s reputation has declined further over the past year among many key allies and partners. In several countries, the share of the public with a favorable view of the U.S. is as low as it has been at any point since the Center began polling on this topic nearly two decades ago.

For instance, just 41% in the United Kingdom express a favorable opinion of the U.S., the lowest percentage registered in any Pew Research Center survey there. In France, only 31% see the U.S. positively, matching the grim ratings from March 2003, at the height of U.S.-France tensions over the Iraq War. Germans give the U.S. particularly low marks on the survey: 26% rate the U.S. favorably, similar to the 25% in the same March 2003 poll.

Part of the decline over the past year is linked to how the U.S. had handled the coronavirus pandemic. Across the 13 nations surveyed, a median of just 15% say the U.S. has done a good job of dealing with the outbreak. In contrast, most say the World Health Organization (WHO) and European Union have done a good job, and in nearly all nations people give their own country positive marks for dealing with the crisis (the U.S. and UK are notable exceptions). Relatively few think China has handled the pandemic well, although it still receives considerably better reviews than the U.S. response.

Read it all.

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

(PRC) A majority of young adults in the U.S. live with their parents for the first time since the Great Depression

The coronavirus outbreak has pushed millions of Americans, especially young adults, to move in with family members. The share of 18- to 29-year-olds living with their parents has become a majority since U.S. coronavirus cases began spreading early this year, surpassing the previous peak during the Great Depression era.

In July, 52% of young adults resided with one or both of their parents, up from 47% in February, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of monthly Census Bureau data. The number living with parents grew to 26.6 million, an increase of 2.6 million from February. The number and share of young adults living with their parents grew across the board for all major racial and ethnic groups, men and women, and metropolitan and rural residents, as well as in all four main census regions. Growth was sharpest for the youngest adults (ages 18 to 24) and for White young adults.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Sociology, Young Adults

(Gallup) More Mask Use, Worry About Lack of Social Distancing in U.S.

As the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is rising sharply, 54% of Americans say they are worried about the lack of social distancing in their local area. Gallup’s June 22-28 polling marks the first time that this measure has reached the majority level, and it coincides with a record-high 86% of U.S. adults saying they have worn a mask in public in the past week.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Sociology

(PRC) Public’s Mood Turns Grim; Trump Trails Biden on Most Personal Traits, Major Issues

With less than five months until the 2020 elections, Americans are deeply unhappy with the state of the nation. As the United States simultaneously struggles with a pandemic, an economic recession and protests about police violence and racial justice, the share of the public saying they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country has plummeted from 31% in April, during the early weeks of the coronavirus outbreak, to just 12% today.

Anger and fear are widespread. Majorities of Democrats and Republicans say they feel both sentiments when thinking about the country, though these feelings are more prevalent among Democrats. And just 17% of Americans – including 25% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and 10% of Democrats and Democratic leaners – say they feel proud when thinking about the state of the country.

However, nearly half of adults (46%) say they feel hopeful about the state of the country, although a 53% majority says they are not hopeful.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Politics in General, Psychology, Sociology

(TGC) Americans Don’t See Human Life as ‘Sacred’—But See Humanity as ‘Basically Good’

The Story: A new study finds that a majority of Americans no longer believe human life has intrinsic value, with six out of ten rejecting the idea that “human life is sacred.” Yet a majority also say that humans are “basically good.”

The Background: According to new research from the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, only 39 percent of Americans today view human life as “sacred,” or as having unconditional, intrinsic worth. Groups that still hold this view include adults with a biblical worldview (93 percent); those attending an evangelical church (60 percent); born-again Christians (60 percent); political conservatives (57 percent); people 50 or older (53 percent); and Republicans (53 percent).

Some religious groups had only a minority who viewed life as sacred, including those attending Pentecostal (46 percent), mainline Protestant (45 percent), or Catholic (43 percent) churches. Evangelicals were the group most likely (60 percent) to say that life is sacred, while spiritual skeptics were the least likely (13 percent).

Read it all.

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

(Gallup) U.S. National Pride Falls to Record Low

American pride has continued its downward trajectory reaching the lowest point in the two decades of Gallup measurement. The new low comes at a time when the U.S. faces public health and economic crises brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in police custody.

Although a majority of adults in the U.S. still say they are “extremely proud” (42%) or “very proud” (21%) to be American, both readings are the lowest they have been since Gallup’s initial measurement in 2001.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Psychology, Sociology

(Barna) 30% of Pastors Are Ready to Resume Physical Worship Services But Others Remain Uncertain

This [past] week, nearly all U.S. church leaders (96%) express confidence in their church’s survival rate despite current disruptions. A quarter (25%) is confident, with another seven in 10 (71%) stating they are “very” confident in this scenario. Three percent remain unsure, and a single percent doubts their church doors will reopen again.

What makes the majority of pastors so sure their church will reopen again? Three in five (60%) believe their people are excited and anxious to return to church. One-quarter attributes this confidence to their current financial standing, with 21 percent saying their finances have remained stable during the crisis and another 4 percent voicing optimism that their finances will recover. One in 10 (11%) believes that God will not allow their church to close.

Read it all.

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

(Gallup) Update on Virtual Worship in the U.S. During COVID-19

We are starting to get new data measuring the possible impact of the coronavirus situation on religious behavior in this country. Gallup’s April 14-28 survey finds 27% of Americans reporting having worshipped virtually within the past seven days. Another 4% claim to have worshipped in person, despite the coronavirus restrictions in place in most states.

The combined total of 31% who have worshipped within the past seven days either virtually or in person is roughly in line with recent, pre-virus trends. This tracks with what I reported in 2001 and 2008 — little lasting change in general worship behavior after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the beginning of the Great Recession. As was the case then, the disruptive virus situation has apparently neither expanded nor diminished Americans’ existing worship propensities.

The unique feature now, of course, is the fact that this pattern of worship behavior has stayed stable even as the way in which worship is carried out has shifted dramatically. While we don’t see a substantial change in the number of Americans who are worshipping, we do find a major shift in how they are going about it.

The 27% of Americans who say they have worshipped virtually is calculated on the base of the entire U.S. adult population. But about 20% of the population has no personal religious identity and would not be highly likely to be worshipping in any situation. Among the population of those with a religious identity, 33% have worshipped virtually.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Liturgy, Music, Worship, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Sociology

(PRC) 56% of Protestants in the historically black churches say their faith has grown stronger amidst the Covid19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has transformed virtually every aspect of public life in America, also has touched a very intimate part of Americans’ lives: their religious faith and worship habits.

Some Americans say their religious faith has strengthened as a result of the outbreak, even as the vast majority of U.S. churchgoers report that their congregations have closed regular worship services to the public, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Americans in historically black Protestant churches and those who describe themselves as very religious are particularly likely to say their faith has strengthened.

One-quarter of U.S. adults overall (24%) say their faith has become stronger because of the coronavirus pandemic, while just 2% say their faith has become weaker. The majority say their faith hasn’t changed much (47%) or that the question isn’t applicable because they were not religious to begin with (26%).

Opinions on this question vary based on respondents’ religious affiliation and how religious they are. Christians are more likely than other religious groups in this analysis to say their faith has grown stronger as a result of the pandemic, a feeling that is reported by 56% of Protestants in the historically black tradition, as well as by four-in-ten evangelicals (42%) and roughly one-quarter of Catholics (27%) and mainline Protestants (22%).

Read it all.

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

(PRC) Many Americans are praying and staying away from normal religious services in response to coronavirus

More than half of U.S. adults say they have prayed for an end to the spread of the coronavirus. Evangelical Protestants are among the most likely to say they have prayed for an end to the virus (82% say they’ve done so). A similar share of adherents of the historically black Protestant tradition (79%) say they have done the same. Two-thirds of Catholics (68%) and mainline Protestants (65%) also say they have prayed for an end to the outbreak.

Roughly one-third of Jews (35%) say they have prayed to end the virus. Religious “nones” – especially self-described atheists and agnostics – are less likely than those who identify with a religion to say they have prayed for an end to the outbreak, though 36% of those who describe their religion as “nothing in particular” say they have prayed about the virus.

Fully 86% of people who pray every day say they have prayed specifically about the virus, as have two-thirds of those who say they pray on a weekly basis. Half of those who say they pray a few times a month report having prayed about the coronavirus, as have 15% of those who generally seldom or never pray.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Gallup) Most U.S. Adults Expect Long-Term COVID19 Disruption

As COVID-19 ravages the U.S., more state and local officials are placing stringent restrictions on residents’ activities in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. Two-thirds of Americans say they are following news stories about the pandemic “very closely,” with the same percentage saying the situation has disrupted their lives — either a great deal (30%) or a fair amount (36%). Nearly as many expect it to take a few more months (51%) or longer (12%) for the level of disruption to travel, work, school and public events to improve, while 36% say it will only be a few more weeks.

Read it all.

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

(Gallup) Americans Step Up Their Social Distancing Even Further

Americans this past weekend stepped up their already considerable efforts to engage in social distancing in response to the novel coronavirus. Seventy-two percent of U.S. adults now say they are avoiding public places like stores and restaurants, well ahead of the 54% reporting this last week. Nearly as many (68%) are forgoing small gatherings of friends and family, up from 46%.

These shifts are notable because they suggest that the unprecedented efforts by federal, state, local and private-sector leaders to get the public’s attention — a combination of formal closures of transportation, schools, and workplaces, as well as public appeals for voluntary efforts — are working.

Even larger percentages of Americans are avoiding events with large crowds (92%) and are staying away from air travel or mass transit (87%). Most Americans were already avoiding these activities last week as businesses en masse began shuttering their doors, and widespread government and corporate travel bans took hold.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Sociology

(Barna) Signs of Decline & Hope Among Key Metrics of Faith

As we continue to share research in the State of the Church 2020, a year-long project exploring the current challenges and opportunities facing the Church, we aim to shed more light on why Americans’ relationship to churches is changing and help Christians discern a faithful direction forward.

Barna Group has been gathering survey data on the long-term shifts that have occurred in the United States over the last several decades. In this report, we explore data collected among 96,171 surveys over more than 20 years, giving us powerful insight into the changes happening in terms of faith practice, such as church attendance, Bible-reading and prayer. What emerges is a nuanced portrait of people trying to figure out what faith means in the 21st Century and the role of Christianity in their lives. And while key markers of religiosity have diminished overall, there are some signs of steadiness among committed Christians that stand in contrast.

Currently, Just One in Four Americans Is a Practicing Christian
To get a broad view of the role of Christianity in the American Church, as well as those outside of it, let’s start by looking at the manner in which Americans relate to Christianity, using three segments: practicing Christians, non-practicing Christians and those who are not Christians.

Practicing Christians identify as Christian, agree strongly that faith is very important in their lives and have attended church within the past month.
Non-practicing Christians are self-identified Christians who do not qualify as practicing.
Non-Christians are U.S. adults who do not identify as Christian.

The first and perhaps most significant change we’ll explore is that practicing Christians are now a much smaller segment of the entire population. In 2000, 45 percent of all those sampled qualified as practicing Christians. That share has consistently declined over the last 19 years. Now, just one in four Americans (25%) is a practicing Christian. In essence, the share of practicing Christians has nearly dropped in half since 2000.

Read it all.

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

(CT) The Possible Decline of the Nones Isn’t a Boost for Evangelicals

However, there is some nuance to the story regarding the religiosity of Gen Z. While the share of Gen Z that identifies as Christian is the smallest of any generation, those who still identify as Protestant or Catholic are incredibly devout. For instance, nearly 6 in 10 evangelical members of Gen Z attend church at least once a week. That’s as high as evangelicals older than 75 and statistically higher than baby boomers and those in Generation X. The same pattern emerges among mainline Protestants and Catholics, as well.

For mainline Protestants, there is no difference in weekly attendance rates between Gen Z and any other generation. For Catholics, the only cohort that attends Mass more than Gen Z is the Silent Generation, those born before 1946. The conclusion is straightforward: Though the share of Gen Z Christians is small, they are deeply committed to their faith.

It’s important to note that these data do not indicate that the overall rate of religious disaffiliation will decrease any time soon. Generational replacement is inevitable. Consider the fact that the Silent Generation, which is 18 percent nones, is decreasing by hundreds of members a day and is being replaced by Gen Z, which is 42 percent religiously unaffiliated.

There is no doubt that the rate will continue to rise, but it may find a plateau in the next few decades. At the same time, the United States will have a much smaller number of Christians, but those who remain will be committed to their faith and attend church regularly.

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Psephizo) Peter Ould–Do we know what Anglicans think about same-sex marriage?

I could go on, but the point is clear – the poll does not represent what the press release claims it does. It is not a reflection of Church of England members in the pews, it does not show any change in support for same-sex marriage in the past four years and it uses terms with little or no qualification in a manner that misleads the reader as to the meaning of the poll. That most of these issues have been pointed out on a previous occasion but have been ignored by the authors demonstrates a deliberate choice to perpetuate these errors for the sake of a political cause.

I close with a challenge to Jayne Ozanne and her self-referential Foundation. As described above, one very easy way to correct these errors would be to ask at least one extra question around church attendance. If Jayne Ozanne were to repeat the exercise, I will happily fund the asking of this extra question, the wording of which would be determined by a neutral third party to the agreement of both parties. My hypothesis is that by looking at church attendance statistics you would see that (a) the majority of these “Anglicans” are not active church members at all and (b) the active church members would hold statistically significantly different views on the subject to the non-church-attending respondents. In fact, this kind of work has been done before, by Mark Regnerus in the States. What he found was that nominal, non-church-attending respondents were indistinguishable from the general population, not only on this issue but on sexual morality more broadly, whilst it was active, church-attending members who held views on all these issues quite out of step with the wider culture. Were the Ozanne Foundation poll to make this kind of enquiry, and find something similar, then it would be significant—but rather awkward.

Proper academic inquiry, including in the area of quantitative study, is open to further information and to clarification and stratification in this manner. It adds to the body of human knowledge, it helps to deepen our understanding of sociological issues. There is no good reason why the Ozanne Foundation should refuse such an offer unless they were afraid that the results such an extra question would generate would undermine their position, but in the area of academic research that is not a good enough reason not to explore a subject in greater detail.

The challenge is clearly there – the issues with the poll have been on numerous occasions and now a cost free option exists to correct them.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sociology

(Barna) Five Trends Defining Americans’ Relationship to Churches

In this article, we’ll examine five trends that are essential in understanding the Church’s place in the U.S. today.

1. Nearly two in five churchgoers report regularly attending multiple churches.

Declining church loyalty—or what is sometimes referred to as “church hopping”—is becoming a common feature of churchgoing. Just because somebody might attend church doesn’t mean they attend the same church every time. While a majority of churchgoers tends to stick with a single congregation (63% churched adults, 72% practicing Christians), a sizable minority is at least occasionally attending other churches, including nearly two in five churched adults (38%) and one-quarter of practicing Christians (27%).

Interestingly, church hoppers are just as likely as more loyal attenders to report weekly attendance. In other words, just because they select from a handful of different churches to attend doesn’t make them any less likely to actually attend church on any given weekend.

Also, those who “hop around” don’t do so as a routine part of their churchgoing in a given month, but typically attend another church occasionally….

Read it all.

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

(Gallup) Record-High Optimism on Personal Finances in U.S.

Americans’ views on their personal financial situation have been climbing since 2018 and are now at or near record highs in Gallup’s trends. Nearly six in 10 Americans (59%) now say they are better off financially than they were a year ago, up from 50% last year.

These data come from Gallup’s annual Mood of the Nation survey, conducted Jan. 2-15. The survey was completed after months of historically low levels of unemployment and as the Dow Jones Industrial Average neared the 30,000 mark for the first time.

The current 59% of Americans who say they are better off financially than they were a year ago is essentially tied for the all-time high of 58% in January 1999. That was recorded during the dot-com boom, with conditions similar to the current state of the economy — a stock market rocketing to then-record highs and unemployment at multidecade lows — though GDP growth was higher at that time.

From 1998 to 2000, at least half of Americans rated their financial situation better than that of a year ago. However, in most surveys from 2001 to 2018, the percentage saying their personal finances were better off than the previous year was under 50% — with a low of 23% in May 2009, during the Great Recession.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Personal Finance & Investing, Psychology, Sociology

(CP) Barna Group relaunches State of the Church survey in a ‘personalized’ version

In this new decade of “cultural, digital and spiritual disruption,” the evangelical Christian polling firm Barna Group is relaunching its State of the Church survey report after a gap of 10 years of its public release, and using new technology to help churches personalize the insights, beginning with the 2020 report, the group announced.

The upcoming State of the Church 2020 survey “will be the most in-depth and comprehensive study in Barna’s 35-year history,” Barna said in a statement.

Barna President David Kinnaman said the relaunch is being done “in a way we’ve never done it before.”

The project will combine updated research and “a brand-new technology,” Barna said, adding that it has tracked State of the Church survey data on an annual basis for 35 years, but the public release of the survey was discontinued in 2010. “The new research will analyze previous tracked research as well as the new 2020 survey findings.”

Read it all.

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

(PRC) U.S. churchgoers are satisfied with the sermons they hear, though content varies by religious tradition

Sermons are a major part of many churchgoers’ religious experiences. But there are differences by religious tradition in how satisfied churchgoers are with what they hear from the pulpit – as well as in the length and content of those sermons, according to two recent Pew Research Center studies.

An opinion survey of 6,364 U.S. adults conducted in 2019 found that 90% of Christians who attend worship services at least a few times a year are satisfied with the sermons they hear, though Protestants are somewhat more satisfied than Catholics.

Six-in-ten evangelical Protestants (61%) say they are “very satisfied” with the sermons they hear, almost twice as many as those who say they’re “somewhat satisfied” (32%). Among Catholics, only about a third (32%) say they’re “very satisfied,” while roughly half (52%) say they are “somewhat satisfied.” Catholics also have a higher share of respondents who say they’re “not too” or “not at all” satisfied (15% vs. 7% for Protestants).

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(PRC) The Digital Pulpit: A Nationwide Analysis of Online Sermons

In addition to calculating the most common terms across Christian traditions, researchers also identified the words and phrases that congregations of each major Christian tradition were disproportionately likely to hear in sermons, compared with congregations in the other traditions. Researchers identified these “most distinctive” terms by calculating the share of all churches in a Christian group with sermons that used a given word or phrase over the study period, as well as the share of all churches not in that group where the word or phrase was used, and then dividing the former by the latter to establish a ratio. In addition to converting each word to its stem, as in the preceding analysis, researchers removed any words used in sermons at fewer than 250 churches (4%) or at more than 95% of all churches (6,109).

Some of the findings are commonsensical. For instance, Catholic congregations were 21 times more likely than others to hear the term “homily” at least once during the study period, and they were 15 times more likely to hear “diocese” and “Eucharist.”9

In other cases, a tradition’s most distinctive terms may reflect some aspect of its teachings or its lectionary (a calendar of weekly readings). For example, Catholic sermons from the study period are more likely than others to contain the word “paschal,” which refers to Easter and to what the Catholic Catechism calls the “paschal mystery” of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Certain expressions may be distinctive to the sermons of a particular Christian tradition but not especially common even within that tradition. Evangelical sermons are an especially notable example of this phenomenon.

Evangelical sermons contain a number of distinctive words and phrases relating to sin, punishment and redemption. But most of these terms were used in sermons at fewer than 10% of all evangelical churches across the study period. For instance, sermons from evangelical churches were three times more likely than those from other traditions to include the phrase “eternal hell” (or variations such as “eternity in hell). However, a congregant who attended every service at a given evangelical church in the dataset had a roughly one-in-ten chance of hearing one of those terms at least once during the study period. By comparison, that same congregant had a 99% chance of hearing the word “love.”

In addition to being less common overall, the most distinctively evangelical terms also are less distinctive than those of other Christian traditions. For example, evangelical congregations were only three times more likely than others to hear the phrase “eternal hell” in a sermon during the study period, while Catholic congregations were 12 times more likely than others to hear the word “paschal.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

(PRC) Religion and Living Arrangements Around the World

Our households – who lives with us, how we are related to them and what role we play in that shared space – have a profound effect on our daily experience of the world. A new Pew Research Center analysis of data from 130 countries and territories reveals that the size and composition of households often vary by religious affiliation.

Worldwide, Muslims live in the biggest households, with the average Muslim individual residing in a home of 6.4 people, followed by Hindus at 5.7. Christians fall in the middle (4.5), forming relatively large families in sub-Saharan Africa and smaller ones in Europe. Buddhists (3.9), Jews (3.7) and the religiously unaffiliated (3.7) – defined as those who do not identify with an organized religion, also known as “nones” – live in smaller households, on average.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Globalization, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(MW) Fewer Americans are donating to charity — and it may have nothing to do with money

Fewer Americans are giving money to charity, and their relationship with God may have something to do with it.

The share of U.S. adults who donated to charity dropped significantly between 2000 and 2016, according to an analysis released this month from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and Vanguard Charitable.

By 2016, just over half — 53% — of Americans gave money to charity, down from 66% in 2000. That figure held mostly steady until the Great Recession. Then it started to drop off and took a dive after 2010, said report co-author Una Osili, associate dean for research and international programs at the Lilly School.

The decline amounts to 20 million fewer households donating to charity in 2016 (the most recent year for which data was available) versus 2000, researchers said.

Read it all.

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

(Barna) What Young Adults Say Is Missing from Church

Just over half of 18–35-year-old Christians surveyed for The Connected Generation study (54%) attend church at least once a month, including one-third (33%) who are in the pews once a week or more. Three in 10 (30%) attend less frequently. A small group of Christians (10%) says they used to go to church, but no longer do.

Despite their fairly consistent presence in the pews, almost half of Christians (44%) say that attending church is not an essential part of their faith. Practicing Christians, defined in part by their regular attendance, are less likely to feel this way, though one-fifth in this group (21%) still agrees. But even if belonging to a community of worship isn’t always seen as essential, young Christians who attend church point to many reasons their participation may be fruitful, most of which pertain to personal spiritual development.

About six in 10 Christians in this study say they participate in their community of worship to grow in their faith (63%) and learn about God (61%). These two options are by far the top responses, though other main motivations also relate to learning, such as receiving relevant teachings (40%), wisdom for how to live faithfully (39%) or wisdom for applying scriptures (35%). This desire for spiritual instruction persists even though four in 10 Christians in this age group (39%) say they have already learned most of what they need to know about faith, and nearly half (47%) say church teachings have flaws or gaps.

Read it all.

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

(Wash Post) Married people have happier, healthier relationships than unmarried couples who live together, data show

New research shows — for the first time — that younger adults are more likely to have shared a home with a partner than a spouse, but that cohabitation doesn’t deliver the same levels of happiness, trust and well-being that marriage can bring.

Some 59% of those 18 to 44 have had live-in partner without being married, according to a study by the Pew Research Center, compared with 50% who’ve walked down the aisle. That’s a reversal from as recently as 2002, when more Americans in that age bracket had experienced marriage.

But while cohabitation is on the rise, data from Pew and other sources continue to show that married Americans enjoy greater overall happiness, as well as greater satisfaction with their relationships. The marriage happiness premium extends to nearly every aspect of a couple’s relationship, with one notable exception: their sex lives.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Marriage & Family, Sociology

(WSJ) Timothy Beal–Can Religion Still Speak to Younger Americans?

The fastest-growing population on the American religious landscape today is “Nones”—people who don’t identify with any religion. Recent data from the American Family Survey indicates that their numbers increased from 16% in 2007 to 35% in 2018. Over the same period, there has been a dramatic decline in the share of the population who identify as Christian, from 78% of Americans in 2007 to 65% in 2018-19, according to a report by the Pew Research Center released this month. The rise of Nones is even more dramatic among younger people: 44% of Americans aged 18 to 29 are Nones.

What’s going on? A big part of the answer is that there is less social pressure to identify as religious, especially among young adults. In fact, a young adult today is more likely to feel social pressure to justify being religious than being None. Another factor is the rise of families in which the parents identify with different religions: Children in such families are often raised with exposure to both identities and left to decide for themselves which to adopt. In many cases, they eventually choose neither.

And part of the answer is that many of the personal and social functions traditionally performed by religious institutions are now being served by new communities that we might call “alt-religious.” Harvard Divinity School’s “How We Gather” initiative has drawn attention, for example, to the rapidly growing numbers of millennials who skip church or synagogue for their particular brand of “fitness cult,” such as SoulCycle, which grew from one studio in 2006 to 88 in 2018, with more than 10,000 riders a day. In these movements, as in a church, myth (in the form of the company’s origin story and mission statement) and rituals (a carefully regulated order of actions for leader and congregants) work together to create a sacred or “set apart” time and space.

Read it all.

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

(PRC) Marriage and Cohabitation in the U.S.

As more U.S. adults are delaying marriage – or forgoing it altogether – the share who have ever lived with an unmarried partner has been on the rise. Amid these changes, most Americans find cohabitation acceptable, even for couples who don’t plan to get married, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Even so, a narrow majority says society is better off if couples in long-term relationships eventually get married.

The survey also examines how adults who are married and those who are living with an unmarried partner are experiencing their relationships. It finds that married adults are more satisfied with their relationship and more trusting of their partners than those who are cohabiting.

The share of U.S. adults who are currently married has declined modestly in recent decades, from 58% in 1995 to 53% today. Over the same period, the share of adults who are living with an unmarried partner has risen from 3% to 7%. While the share who are currently cohabiting remains far smaller than the share who are married, the share of adults ages 18 to 44 who have ever lived with an unmarried partner (59%) has surpassed the share who has ever been married (50%), according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG).

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Marriage & Family, Sociology

(PRC in 2018) 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