Category : Sociology

(NYT Op-ed) Thomas Edsall–The Increasing Significance of the Decline of Men

A study by the Dallas Federal Reserve published in 2014, “Middle-Skill Jobs Lost in U.S. Labor Market Polarization,” found that:

While women were hit much harder than men by the disappearance of middle-skill jobs, the majority of women managed to upgrade their skills and find better-paying jobs. By comparison, more than half of men who lost middle-skill jobs had to settle for lower-paying occupations.

From 1979 to 2007, seven percent of men and 16 percent of women with middle-skill jobs lost their positions, according to the Dallas Fed study. Four percent of these men moved to low-skill work, and 3 percent moved to high-skill jobs. Almost all the women, 15 percent, moved into high-skill jobs, with only 1 percent moving to low-skill work.

Men whose childhood years were marked by family disruption seem to fare the worst.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Men, Sociology

(Barna) Bible Reading in 2017: A New Year’s Resolution

During the first week of January 2017, millions of Americans hit the gym, opened a savings account, enrolled in a class or started a new diet, vowing to keep their resolutions to make big lifestyle changes in the new year. Sadly, most of those December 31 aspirations have already started to gather dust, casualties of the stresses and demands of life. Undoubtedly, some chose to focus their resolutions on exercising their spiritual muscles through Bible reading. So what level of commitment do they show toward their Scripture-reading habits? In a study conducted in partnership with American Bible Society, Barna looks at the Bible reading desires and motivations of American adults. Do Americans wish they read the Bible more? Has their reading increased or decreased, and why?

Who Wants to Read the Bible?
In an era of significant change, when so many cultural touchstones are up for grabs, what compels people to read an ancient document, and what prevents them from reading it? A majority””and significant plurality””read the Bible because it draws them closer to God (57%). This means that for many Americans, Bible reading is a pillar of their faith. Most Americans though, are not satisfied with their current level of Scripture reading. A majority””about six in 10 American adults (61%)””express a desire to read the Bible more than they currently do, while a little more than one-third (36%) don’t. These numbers have remained relatively stable over the years since 2011 (see chart). The groups who desire more frequent Bible reading than their counterparts are females (68% compared to 54% of males), Boomers (68% compared to 55% of Millennials), non-white Americans (67% compared to 58% of white American) and those with no more than a high-school education (67% compared to 56% of college graduates). Seven out of 10 (70%) southerners want to read the Bible more, an especially high number compared to their western and northeastern neighbors (55% each), and perhaps unsurprisingly, born-again (85%) and practicing Christians (84%) are the most likely to desire more Bible-reading in their day-to-day lives.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Express) Millennials believe Britain no longer a Christian country

A total of 41 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds said Britain has “no specific religious identity” in a ComRes poll published to launch the new Faith Research Centre in Westminster.

And a third of 25 to 34-year-olds believed the same, the poll of 2,048 adults found.

Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, had an entirely different perspective on how religious Britain is compared to the over 55s and pensioners.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Young Adults

(IS) David Millard Haskell–Of Christmas and Church Closings

It’s also commonly asserted by our liberal critics that it is not the type of theology that matters for church growth but whether the theology is believed strongly and articulated clearly. However, we would suggest that different convictions, though equally strong and clear, produce different outcomes.

For example, all the growing church clergy in our study, because of their theological outlook, held the conviction that it is “very important to encourage non-Christians to become Christians.” As theological conservatives, these pastors believe Jesus is the only way to salvation and that they must “Go and make disciples everywhere.”

Conversely, half the clergy at the declining churches held the opposite conviction, believing it is not desirable to convert non-Christians. As theological liberals, these pastors believe there are many paths to salvation and that it’s culturally insensitive to peddle your beliefs on those outside your religious community. Comparing the two theological outlooks, which do you think is more likely to generate church growth?

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Canada, Christology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Soteriology, Theology

(Economist) Divorce is on the rise in China

With his slick navy suit, silver watch and non-stop smoking, Yu Feng is an unlikely ambassador for Chinese family values. The office from which he operates, in Chongqing in western China, looks more like a sitting room, with grey sofas, cream curtains and large windows looking out on the city’s skyscrapers. Women visit him here and plead for help. They want him to persuade their husbands to dump their mistresses.

Mr Yu worked in family law and then marriage counselling before starting his business in 2007. He charges scorned wives 100,000-500,000 yuan ($15,000-75,000); cases usually take 7-8 months. He befriends both the two-timing husband and the mistress, encouraging them to find fault with each other, and gradually reveals that he has messed up his own life by being unfaithful. Most clients are in their 30s and early 40s. “This is the want, buy, get generation,” he says; sex is a part of China’s new materialism. But changing sexual mores and a rocketing divorce rate have prompted soul-searching about the decline of family ties. Mr Yu claims a 90% success rate.

The ernai, literally meaning “second wife”, is increasingly common. So many rich men indulge that Chinese media sometimes blame extramarital relationships for helping to inflate property prices: some city apartment complexes are notorious for housing clusters of mistresses, paid for by their lovers, who often provide a living allowance too.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Children, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Sociology, Theology

(Globe and Mail) David Haskell–How to grow a church: some church leaders might not like the answer

If you went to Sunday school, you heard the story of Jonah and chances are you remember that he was swallowed by a whale. But what often gets forgotten is the story’s larger theme. Jonah is given a divine message and is instructed to deliver it to a people on the verge of calamity but, for some specific reasons, he’s reluctant.

Minus hearing the voice of God, for the last couple of weeks, I’ve felt a little like Jonah.

The information I’m delivering relates to a study some colleagues and I conducted that explored mainline Protestant churches. Since the 1960s, churches in the Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and United denominations have been steadily losing members and we wanted to determine why.

Through statistical analysis of survey data from a near-even mix of growing and declining church attendees and their clergy, we found that conservative religious doctrine, known for emphasizing a more literal interpretation of scripture, is a key driver for church growth in mainline Protestant congregations. Liberal doctrine, which emphasizes a metaphorical interpretation, leads to decline.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Canada, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

([London] Times) Most Muslims want full integration with British way of life

More than half of British Muslims want to “fully integrate” with society, according to the most extensive survey of its kind.

Research involving more than 3,000 Muslims shows that they broadly share the views and priorities of the wider population, rather than being shaped by supposedly “Islamic” concerns. Ninety-three per cent feel a fairly or very strong attachment to Britain and are likely to identify the NHS, unemployment and immigration as the biggest issues facing the country.

British Muslims were more likely than the general population to condemn terrorism, the survey by ICM and Policy Exchange, the right-of-centre think tank, found. They were also more likely to give credence to conspiracy theories that the United States government or Jewish influences were behind the September 11 attacks.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

(Gallup) A Record-High 77% of Americans Perceive Nation as Divided

Seventy-seven percent of Americans, a new high, believe the nation is divided on the most important values, while 21% believe it is united and in agreement. Over the past 20+ years, the public has tended to perceive the nation as being more divided than united, apart from two surveys conducted shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The latest poll was conducted Nov. 9-13 after a contentious presidential campaign involving the two of the least popular candidates in postwar U.S. history, and as protests erupted nationwide in response to Donald Trump’s victory.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Office of the President, Politics in General, Psychology, Sociology

(Time) American marriage rates may be stabilizing after decades of decline

The U.S. divorce rate dropped for the third year in a row, reaching its lowest point in nearly 40 years, according to data released Thursday.

Marriage rates, on the other hand, increased last year. In 2015, there were 32.2 marriages for every 1,000 unmarried women age 15 or older, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University. This represents a jump from 31.9 in 2014 and is the highest number of marriages since 2009, which suggests that marriage rates may be stabilizing after decades of decline.

On the divorce side, the 2015 rate was 16.9 divorces per 1,000 married women age 15 or older, which is down from 17.6 in 2014 and a peak of almost 23 divorces in 1980.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Sociology, Theology

(PR FactTank) If the U.S. had 100 people: Charting Americans’ religious affiliations

As of 2014, there were roughly 245 million adults in the United States, including 173 million Christians and 56 million people without a religious affiliation. These are big numbers that, along with many others in the religious demographic pie, can at times make it difficult to fully understand the American religious landscape.

But what if we looked at this big picture a little differently? What if we imagined the United States as a small town, population 100, instead of a continent-spanning nation with hundreds of millions of people? Doing so presents an interesting thought experiment because it allows us to see basic data about the U.S. and its people in a fresh, simple and illuminating way.

The following five charts use data from the 2014 Religious Landscape Study to create a religious demographic profile of the U.S. if the country were made up of exactly 100 adults.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Gallup) Americans Continue to Cite the Economy as the Top Problem Facing the Country

With the presidential election looming, more Americans cite the economy (17%) than any other issue as the most important U.S. problem in October, followed by dissatisfaction with the government (12%). Americans’ concerns about the major problems facing the country are largely consistent with what they have been throughout 2016.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Sociology, Theology

(Barna) Most Americans Believe in Supernatural Healing

Though often the subject of much debate””both theologically and scientifically””the majority of American adults (66%) believe people can be physically healed supernaturally by God. This majority is made up equally between those who either strongly (33%) or somewhat (33%) agree that it’s possible to be physically healed supernaturally by God. The remaining one-third (34%) are skeptical, comprised of those who either strongly (19%) or somewhat (15%) disagree.

Though there is consensus across the generational groups among those who strongly agree about supernatural healing, when it comes to those who strongly disagree, Millennials are more likely to be skeptical””one-quarter (25%) strongly disagree, twice the amount of Elders (13%). The other two groups fit into a sliding scale based on age (Gen-Xers: 21% and Boomers: 14%).

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(Lifeway Research) Americans Love God and the Bible, Are Fuzzy on the Details

Americans don’t know much about theology. Most say God wrote the Bible. But they’re not sure everything in it is true.

Six in 10 say everyone eventually goes to heaven, but half say only those who believe in Jesus will be saved. And while 7 in 10 say there’s only one true God””Father, Son and Holy Spirit””two-thirds say God accepts worship of all faiths.

Those are among the findings of a new survey of American views on Christian theology from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

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

(WaPo) Julie Zauzmer–How decades of divorce helped erode religion

People whose parents divorced when they were children are significantly more likely to grow up not to be religious as adults, the study found. Thirty-five percent of the children of divorced parents told pollsters they are now nonreligious, compared with 23 percent of people whose parents were married when they were children.

Other studies on the rise of the “nones” ”” those who say they have no religion ”” have focused on millennials’ changing preferences. This study found that 29 percent of adults who were raised religious and left their faith say they left because of their religion’s negative teachings about gay and lesbian people. Nineteen percent say they left because of clergy sexual-abuse scandals. Sixty percent say they simply do not believe what the religion teaches.

“A lot of the narrative around the rise of the nones, or the rise of the non-affiliated, has focused on how there’s changing cultural preferences, that people are choosing to move away from religion,” said Daniel Cox, one of the researchers on the new study. “I think there’s also a structural part of the story that has not gotten as much attention. We wanted to focus on the way millennials were raised, which is different from any previous generation. And part of that is they’re more likely to have grown up with parents who are divorced.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

(PRRI) Exodus–Why Americans are Leaving Religion””and Why They’re Unlikely to Come Back

The American religious landscape has undergone substantial changes in recent years. However, one of the most consequential shifts in American religion has been the rise of religiously unaffiliated Americans. This trend emerged in the early 1990s. In 1991, only six percent of Americans identified their religious affiliation as “none,” and that number had not moved much since the early 1970s. By the end of the 1990s, 14% of the public claimed no religious affiliation. The rate of religious change accelerated further during the late 2000s and early 2010s, reaching 20% by 2012. Today, one-quarter (25%) of Americans claim no formal religious identity, making this group the single largest “religious group” in the U.S.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Religion & Culture, Sociology