Category : Sociology

(Federalist) Glenn Stanton–New Harvard Research Says U.S. Christianity Is Not Shrinking, But Growing Stronger

“Meanwhile, a widespread decline in churchgoing and religious affiliation had contributed to a growing anxiety among conservative believers.” Statements like this are uttered with such confidence and frequency that most Americans accept them as uncontested truisms. This one emerged just this month in an exceedingly silly article in The Atlantic on Vice President Mike Pence.

Religious faith in America is going the way of the Yellow Pages and travel maps, we keep hearing. It’s just a matter of time until Christianity’s total and happy extinction, chortle our cultural elites. Is this true? Is churchgoing and religious adherence really in “widespread decline” so much so that conservative believers should suffer “growing anxiety”?

Two words: Absolutely not.

New research published late last year by scholars at Harvard University and Indiana University Bloomington is just the latest to reveal the myth. This research questioned the “secularization thesis,” which holds that the United States is following most advanced industrial nations in the death of their once vibrant faith culture. Churches becoming mere landmarks, dance halls, boutique hotels, museums, and all that.

Not only did their examination find no support for this secularization in terms of actual practice and belief, the researchers proclaim that religion continues to enjoy “persistent and exceptional intensity” in America.

Read it all.

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

(Barna) Who is Gen Z?

“First, why are we calling them Gen Z? Well, you may remember that Millennials were originally called Gen Y because they were born after Gen X, before they became Millennials. The same is probably true for Gen Z. Eventually, they’ll get their own name, once the particularities of their generation become clear. You may hear some people already referring to them as the ‘iGen’ or ‘digital natives’ because of their relationship with technology. Others called them the ‘homeland generation’ because most of them were born after 9/11. You may also hear ‘centennials’ or ‘founders’—but for now, the most widely accepted title is Gen Z.

“Gen Z was born between 1999 and 2015, making the oldest of them 18 this year. Most of them are in their teens and childhood years. Gen Z is the second largest generation alive today. In the U.S. there are 69 million of them, compared to 66 million Millennials, 55 million Gen Xers and 76 million Boomers. The parents of Gen Z are Gen X and Millennials. They are most ethnically diverse generation alive today, and they have, for better and worse, grown up with technology at their fingertips. The smartphone was invented before most of them were even born.

Read it all and there is more there.

Posted in --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

(Guardian) Non-believers turn to prayer in a crisis, poll finds

For many non-believers, it is an instinctive response to a crisis: “Please, God.” So perhaps it should not be surprising that a new survey has found that one in five adults pray despite saying they are not religious.

Just over half of all adults in the UK pray, and they are increasingly likely to call on God while engaged in activities such as cooking or exercising, according to the poll. Although one in three people pray in a place of worship, and a third pray before going to sleep or on waking, others combine prayer with daily activities. One in five pray while doing household chores or cooking, 15% pray while travelling, and 12% pray during exercise or other leisure pursuits.

Just under half of those who pray said they believed God hears their prayers, which suggests a slim majority feel their supplications are not answered. Four in ten go further, saying prayer changes the world; a similar number say it makes them feel better.

Family tops the list of subjects of prayers at 71%, followed by thanking God (42%), praying for healing (40%) and for friends (40%). Way down on the list comes global issues such as poverty or disasters, at 24%, according to the poll carried out by ComRes on behalf of the Christian aid agency, Tearfund.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Spirituality/Prayer

(Barna) The Trends Shaping a Post-Truth Era

The term “post-truth” is now often used to describe the current political climate in the United States, in which reality is relative and even the facts are open to interpretation. In the feature story of the new, 2018 edition of Barna Trends—an annual collection summarizing a year’s worth of Barna’s major research studies and including analysis, interviews and infographics—the Barna team and other trusted experts identify cultural and spiritual reasons the world is no longer in agreement about anything….

Barna Trends 2018 begins with an overview of the dwindling public confidence in institutions—especially, and very notably in 2017, the media. However, three in 10 U.S. adults (31%) say the primary source of the “fake news” problem most often lies in reader error—“misinterpretation or exaggeration of actual news on social media”—not factual mistakes in reporting itself. And it would seem there are plenty of chances for these social media mistakes: When asked what kind of news media people are most likely to share, social media posts tie with traditional reporter-written articles as the top response (25% each). Though a plurality (36%) says they verify reports by comparing to multiple sources, the tendency to share social media posts as news points to a preference for more salacious, opinion-forward headlines and reporting. At the least, it allows opportunity to perpetuate it; a plurality (38%) never corrects misinformation they see on social media.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Sociology, Theology

(Bloomberg) Divorce Is Making American Families 66% Bigger

As family structures become more complicated, a new body of new research is attempting to quantify the trend. The proliferation of stepchildren, half-siblings, and other extended relationships has important implications for how American families function.

Almost a third of U.S. households headed by adults under age 55 have at least one stepparent, according to a recent analysis of survey data by University of Massachusetts Boston Professor Emily Wiemers and others. Similarly, the study found that, looking at couples over age 55 who have adult children, 33 percent have a stepchild.

These step-relationships can stretch both the size and definition of family—researchers included both married and unmarried co-habiting couples in the analysis. For Americans with grown children, counting stepchildren boosts the total number of adult kids by 66 percent, the study found.

The rise in divorce and remarriage is driving this growth in family size. Over the past two decades, the divorce rate has doubled for older Americans. Almost 30 percent of people over 50 had been married more than once, according to a recent study by scholars at Bowling Green State University. About 40 percent of older Americans with children are in stepfamilies, according to survey data.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Marriage & Family, Sociology

(PewR) Americans Say Religious Aspects of Christmas Are Declining in Public Life

As long-simmering debates continue over how American society should commemorate the Christmas holiday, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that most U.S. adults believe the religious aspects of Christmas are emphasized less now than in the past – even as relatively few Americans are bothered by this trend. In addition, a declining majority says religious displays such as nativity scenes should be allowed on government property. And compared with five years ago, a growing share of Americans say it does not matter to them how they are greeted in stores and businesses during the holiday season – whether with “merry Christmas” or a less-religious greeting like “happy holidays.”

Not only are some of the more religious aspects of Christmas less prominent in the public sphere, but there are signs that they are on the wane in Americans’ private lives and personal beliefs as well. For instance, there has been a noticeable decline in the percentage of U.S. adults who say they believe that biblical elements of the Christmas story – that Jesus was born to a virgin, for example – reflect historical events that actually occurred. And although most Americans still say they mark the occasion as a religious holiday, there has been a slight drop in recent years in the share who say they do this.

Currently, 55% of U.S. adults say they celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, including 46% who see it as more of a religious holiday than a cultural holiday and 9% who celebrate Christmas as both a religious and a cultural occasion. In 2013, 59% of Americans said they celebrated Christmas as a religious holiday, including 51% who saw it as more religious than cultural and 7% who marked the day as both a religious and a cultural holiday.

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

(CT) Evangelical vs. Born Again: A Survey of What Americans Say and Believe Beyond Politics

For all the handwringing over what the term evangelical means in the political moment of Donald Trump and Roy Moore, only 1 in 100 Americans would take on the term if it had nothing to do with politics.

Meanwhile, the label is primarily a political identity for only about 1 in 10 self-identified evangelicals.

Overall, 1 in 4 Americans today consider themselves to be evangelicals. But less than half actually hold evangelical beliefs.

And when defined by beliefs and not by identity, evangelicals are less white (58% vs. 70%), more black (23% vs. 14%), and more likely to worship weekly (73% vs. 61%). However, they are not more likely to be Republican or Democrat.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Media, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(PRC) Europe’s Growing Muslim Population–Muslims are projected to increase as a share of Europe’s population–even with no future migration

In recent years, Europe has experienced a record influx of asylum seekers fleeing conflicts in Syria and other predominantly Muslim countries. This wave of Muslim migrants has prompted debate about immigration and security policies in numerous countries and has raised questions about the current and future number of Muslims in Europe.

To see how the size of Europe’s Muslim population may change in the coming decades, Pew Research Center has modeled three scenarios that vary depending on future levels of migration. These are not efforts to predict what will happen in the future, but rather a set of projections about what could happen under different circumstances.

The baseline for all three scenarios is the Muslim population in Europe (defined here as the 28 countries presently in the European Union, plus Norway and Switzerland) as of mid-2016, estimated at 25.8 million (4.9% of the overall population) – up from 19.5 million (3.8%) in 2010.

Read it all.

Posted in Europe, Immigration, Islam, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Local Paper Front Page) Southerners split on the economy, Confederate monuments and Donald Trump, new poll finds

While Southern whites and blacks agree all races should be treated equally and political correctness threatens their personal liberty, they are divided over views on economic opportunity, Confederate monuments and President Donald Trump, a new poll shows.

A survey of residents in 11 Southern states — released Wednesday by Winthrop University — collected views more than two months after hundreds of white supremacists and counter-protesters clashed violently in Charlotttesville, Va., over the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park.

Trump was criticized for blaming “both sides” at the rally, which was punctuated by a criminal charge against an alleged neo-Nazi for driving through a group of counter-protesters, killing one.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Sociology

YouGov Poll–Most Brits think only six of the Ten Commandments are still important

The Ten Commandments have been central tenets of Biblical teaching for several millenia. But how many Britons believe that they are good rules for life in the 21st century?

New YouGov research reveals that only six of the original Ten Commandments are still seen by most British people as important principles to live by. This is even true of Britain’s Christians, although they are more likely than the general population as a whole to think any given Commandment remains important.

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Posted in England / UK, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Marketwatch) 1 in 2 U.S. millennials say they would rather live in a socialist or communist country than a capitalist democracy

According to the latest survey from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a D.C.-based nonprofit, one in two U.S. millennials say they would rather live in a socialist or communist country than a capitalist democracy.

What’s more, 22% of them have a favorable view of Karl Marx and a surprising number see Joseph Stalin and Kim Jong Un as “heroes.”

Really, that’s what the numbers show.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., History, Sociology, Young Adults

Giving USA Special Report on Giving to Religion finds religious people give more money to charity than those unaffiliated

Among the report’s findings:

  • People who are religiously affiliated are more likely to make a charitable donation of any kind, whether to a religious congregation or to another type of charitable organization. Sixty-two percent of religious households give to charity of any kind, compared with 46 percent of households with no religious affiliation.
  • Although the percentage of people who give to religious congregations is declining, those who give to religion are giving at steady rates. Contrary to popular belief, younger generations do give to religion, and those who give are doing so at a similar rate as earlier generations did at the same point in their lives.
  • Frequent attendance at religious services is linked to both the likelihood of giving to religion and to making larger gifts to religion. People who attend religious services on a monthly basis are 11 times more likely to give to religious congregations, and they give an average of $1,737 more to religion per year than people who attend less than once a month.

Read it all.

Posted in Religion & Culture, Sociology, Stewardship

Bishop Robert Baron–The Least Religious Generation In U.S. History: A Reflection On Jean Twenge’s “igen”

Jean Twenge’s book iGen is one of the most fascinating—and depressing—texts I’ve read in the past decade. A professor of psychology at San Diego State University, Dr. Twenge has been, for years, studying trends among young Americans, and her most recent book focuses on the generation born between 1995 and 2012. Since this is the first cohort of young people who have never known a world without iPads and iPhones, and since these devices have remarkably shaped their consciousness and behavior, Twenge naturally enough has dubbed them the “iGen.”

One of her many eye-opening findings is that iGen’ers are growing up much more slowly than their predecessors. A baby-boomer typically got his driver’s license on his sixteenth birthday (I did); but an iGen’er is far more willing to postpone that rite of passage, waiting until her eighteenth or nineteenth year. Whereas previous generations were eager to get out of the house and find their own way, iGen’ers seem to like to stay at home with their parents and have a certain aversion to “adulting.” And Twenge argues that smartphones have undeniably turned this new generation in on itself. A remarkable number of iGen’ers would rather text their friends than go out with them and would rather watch videos at home than go to a theater with others. One of the upshots of this screen-induced introversion is a lack of social skills and another is depression.

Now there are many more insights that Dr. Twenge shares, but I was particularly interested, for obvious reasons, in her chapter on religious attitudes and behaviors among iGen’ers. In line with many other researchers, Twenge shows that the objective statistics in this area are alarming.

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Posted in Books, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Young Adults

(Telegraph) Divorce rates increase for the first time this decade as over-50s untie the knot

Divorce rates in England and Wales have increased for the first time this decade according to the Office for National Statistics.

There were 106,959 divorces of opposite-sex couples in 2016, an increase of 5.8 per cent compared with 2015, with men and women getting divorced at a rate of 8.9 per 1,000 married people – up 4.7 per cent.

The last time there was an increase in divorce rate was between 2009 and 2010.

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Posted in England / UK, Marriage & Family, Sociology

Americans Top Ten Fears in 2017

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