Category : Sociology

(Barna) Silent and Solo: How Americans Pray

Prayer is not only the most common faith practice among American adults (79% have prayed at least once in the past three months), it’s also one of the most complex and multifaceted. The Bible speaks of numerous kinds of prayers (supplication, intercession, faith, etc.) and uses diverse language to describe the practice. Different traditions and denominations tend to emphasize certain kinds of prayer over others, or even develop and build upon those laid out in scripture. Perhaps the only consistent thing about people’s prayers is that they are different. Americans do not think about approaching prayer in any kind of homogenous way—or even pray to the same deity (if they pray to a higher power at all). A new study from Barna reveals the diverse prayer habits of American adults….

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

(Barna) The Aging of America’s Pastors

Pastors are getting older, and this has important implications for the future of the church. In partnership with Pepperdine University, Barna conducted a major study into how today’s faith leaders are navigating life and leadership in an age of complexity. The State of Pastors study—revealed at a Pepperdine event earlier this year—examined the shifting demographic of faith leaders, and the cultural forces responsible for the dramatic changes.

When George Barna published his 1992 findings in Today’s Pastors, the median age of Protestant clergy was 44 years old. One in three pastors was under the age of 40, and one in four was over 55. Just 6 percent were 65 or older. Twenty-five years later, the average age is 54. Only one in seven pastors is under 40, and half are over 55. The percentage of church leaders 65 and older has nearly tripled, meaning there are now more pastors in the oldest age bracket than there are leaders younger than 40.

The upward climb did not begin in the 1990s. In 1968, 55 percent of all Protestant clergy were under the age of 45—that is, the majority of all church leaders were in their 20s, 30s and early 40’s. In 2017, just 22 percent are under 45.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Sociology

(Bloomberg) American weddings are getting rarer and smaller—but not cheaper

You’re not the only one spending fewer summer weekends watching other people get married—but don’t worry, the weddings you’re still invited to might feel a little more special these days.

Fewer Americans are getting married, and the ones who still are have scaled back their weddings. Their nuptials are becoming smaller, though not necessarily cheaper, affairs.

Many couples are waiting longer and longer to schedule their weddings. In 2015, the median first-time American bride was almost 28 years old and the median groom almost 30, according to the most recent data available from the Census Bureau. (Ten years earlier, the typical bride was 25.5, the typical groom 27.)

The U.S. marriage rate—the number of new marriages per 1,000 people—has been falling for decades. It fell especially fast during the recession, in 2008 and 2009, but there’s little evidence that people started getting married again even as the economy recovered. And research firm IbisWorld predicts the marriage rate will keep falling over the next five years.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Marriage & Family, Personal Finance & Investing, Sociology

(Gallup) Andrew Dugan–Moral Acceptance of Polygamy in the U.S. is at Record High — But Why?

It is certainly true that moral perceptions have significantly, fundamentally changed on a number of social issues or behaviors since 2001 — most notably, gay/lesbian relations, having a baby outside of wedlock, sex between unmarried men and women, and divorce. But these attitudinal changes did not occur in isolation. They have occurred alongside important cultural and legal changes, including the rising propensity of divorce following changes to state laws at the end of the 20th century and the gay rights movement that ultimately succeeded in legalizing same-sex marriage in 2015, to name a few.

No such shifts have occurred with respect to polygamy. It remains illegal in all 50 states. And only this year, the state House of Utah, a state that outlawed the practice in 1895 in order to gain admission into the union, passed a bill that would, among other things, increase the penalties for convicted polygamists. And while academic research finds that covert polygamous marriages do exist in the U.S., they are uncommon and are largely confined to some immigrant Muslim groups and Mormon sects that have broken away from the mainstream church.

In short, there is little reason to believe that Americans are more likely to know or be polygamists now than at any other time in the past. But there is one way Americans may feel more familiar with or sympathetic to polygamy: television.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Movies & Television, Sexuality, Sociology

(IFS) Infidelity is *down* among young adults, *up* among older adults

Enshrined in the Ten Commandments, the adultery taboo has persisted throughout human history. According to the past 30 years of the General Social Survey (GSS), three out of every four American adults aver that extramarital sex is always wrong. At the other end of the spectrum, under three percent of the population thinks extramarital sex isn’t wrong at all. The number of Americans who report actually having sex outside the bonds of matrimony has held relatively steady, at around 16 percent. Annual fluctuations have been minor, rarely exceeding more than a percentage point in either direction. At first glace, it seems like America has made up its mind about extramarital sex.

But the broader trend has obscured startling changes: since 2000, older Americans are cheating more, while younger Americans are cheating less. These numbers are derived from GSS responses to this survey item: “Have you ever had sex with someone other than your husband or wife while you were married?” Survey respondents have been asked this question in each survey wave since 1991.

The growing age gap in extramarital sex is depicted in Figure 1, below. For the first few years of the millennium, there were scant age differences. Starting after 2004, Americans over 55 began reporting rates of extramarital sex that were about five or six percentage points higher than were being offered by younger adults. By 2016, 20% of older respondents indicated that their marriages were nominally adulterous, compared to 14% for people under 55. Most married Americans remain committed to monogamy, but the mounting age difference is noteworthy and statistically significant. Additional analysis suggests that the age difference cannot be explained by fundamental sociodemographic differences between respondents, including sex, age, race/ethnicity, or education.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Marriage & Family, Middle Age, Sociology, Young Adults

More on the Scottish Episcopal Church Vote (V)–Professor Paul Johnson, Sociologist from the University of York, responds

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Posted in Scottish Episcopal Church, Sociology

(IFS) Tyler VanderWeele responds to Bella DePaulo–What The New York Times Gets Wrong About Marriage, Health, and Well-Being

DePaulo criticizes research of the sort we reported in the Nurses’ Health Study for not distinguishing between the transition from singlehood to marriage, versus from marriage to divorce. And indeed, the Nurses’ Health Study participants were married upon study entry so that the estimate reported above is more reflective of the adverse impact of divorce compared to marriage. DePaulo argues that if you marry, you are also more likely to divorce. That is, of course, true: the effects of continuous marriage on health are going to be more protective than marriage followed by divorce.

But DePaulo seems to suggest that the right way to avoid divorce is to not marry. A more sensible solution would be to develop support resources to work through marital difficulties, when appropriate. Marital counseling, maintaining commitment, online marriage support resources,19 and the passage of time can pay off.16 One study indicated that among those who were married and rated their marriage as “very unhappy” but stayed married, 77% said that five years later the same marriage was either “very happy” or “quite happy.”

Beyond the question of divorce, however, a vast literature now exists (in addition to the Switzerland study) on the objective health effects of marriage,including studies that have examined never-married populations: these studies find similar protective effects of marriage.

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Posted in Health & Medicine, History, Marriage & Family, Sociology

(PRC FactTank) Muslims and Islam: Key findings in the U.S. and around the world

Muslims are the fastest-growing religious group in the world. The growth and regional migration of Muslims, combined with the ongoing impact of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and other extremist groups that commit acts of violence in the name of Islam, have brought Muslims and the Islamic faith to the forefront of the political debate in many countries. Yet many facts about Muslims are not well known in some of these places, and most Americans – who live in a country with a relatively small Muslim population – say they know little or nothing about Islam.

Here are answers to some key questions about Muslims, compiled from several Pew Research Center reports published in recent years…

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Posted in Globalization, Islam, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Barna) Who Are the Lonely in America?

Science has shown that people who have close friendships are happier, more successful and even more physically and emotionally healthy. And in our hyper-connected culture, it may seem like it’s never been easier to make and maintain relationships. But is that true? How do Americans meet their friends? Who is most likely to feel lonely? In the infographic below, Barna explores new data about the care and keeping of friends.

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

(CT) Shame, Guilt, and Fear: What 1,000 Americans Avoid Most

Many Americans are more worried about their reputation than their conscience.

They worry less about guilt and fear and more about avoiding shame, according to a new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

Shame has become particularly powerful in American culture in the internet age, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. A single mistake or embarrassing moment posted on social media can ruin a person’s life.

“What’s our biggest cultural fear? Shame,” he said. “What’s surprising is not that personal freedom, ambition, and doing the right thing are valued by Americans. It’s that risk to our reputation is what matters most.”

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

(Gallup) Views of US Moral Values Slip to Seven-Year Lows

Americans’ ratings of U.S. moral values, consistently negative through the years, have slipped to their lowest point in seven years. More than four in five (81%) now rate the state of moral values in the U.S. as only fair or poor.

Since Gallup first asked in 2002 whether the nation’s moral values were getting better or getting worse, the percentage saying worse has always been well above the majority level, ranging from a low of 64% in November 2004 to a high of 82% in May 2007. Over the past six years, it has stayed within a five-point range, reaching a low of 72% in 2013 and 2015 before climbing to this year’s high of 77%.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Sociology

(Gallup) Americans Hold Record Liberal Views on Most Moral Issues

Americans continue to express an increasingly liberal outlook on what is morally acceptable, as their views on 10 of 19 moral issues that Gallup measures are the most left-leaning or permissive they have been to date. The percentages of U.S. adults who believe birth control, divorce, sex between unmarried people, gay or lesbian relations, having a baby outside of marriage, doctor-assisted suicide, pornography and polygamy are morally acceptable practices have tied record highs or set new ones this year. At the same time, record lows say the death penalty and medical testing on animals are morally acceptable.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sociology

(Telegraph) A recent survey shows that the decline of Anglicanism in England may be slowing

Academic Stephen Bullivant said that the growth in non-religious people has slowed and Anglicanism has seen a small uptick since 2013.

The professor of theology and the sociology of religion at St Mary’s University in Twickenham said that the church was recovering after losing a lot of believers after the publication of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion in 2006.

He also said that a rise in patriotism might be linked to greater pride in Christianity among some groups.

“People see Christianity as an expression of Englishness. There has been more rhetoric around Britain being a Christian nation….”

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

(PEW RC) Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe

Roughly a quarter of a century after the fall of the Iron Curtain and subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union, a major new Pew Research Center survey finds that religion has reasserted itself as an important part of individual and national identity in many of the Central and Eastern European countries where communist regimes once repressed religious worship and promoted atheism.

Today, solid majorities of adults across much of the region say they believe in God, and most identify with a religion. Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism are the most prevalent religious affiliations, much as they were more than 100 years ago in the twilight years of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires.

In many Central and Eastern European countries, religion and national identity are closely entwined. This is true in former communist states, such as the Russian Federation and Poland, where majorities say that being Orthodox or Catholic is important to being “truly Russian” or “truly Polish.” It is also the case in Greece, where the church played a central role in Greece’s successful struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire and where today three-quarters of the public (76%) says that being Orthodox is important to being “truly Greek.”

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Posted in Europe, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Bloomberg) Young Americans Are Killing Marriage

There’s no shortage of theories as to how and why today’s young people differ from their parents.

As marketing consultants never cease to point out, baby boomers and millennials appear to have starkly different attitudes about pretty much everything, from money and sports to breakfast and lunch.

New research tries to ground those observations in solid data. The National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University set out to compare 25- to 34-year-olds in 1980—baby boomers—with the same age group today. Researcher Lydia Anderson compared U.S. Census data from 1980 with the most recent American Community Survey 1 data in 2015.

The results reveal some stark differences in how young Americans are living today, compared with three or four decades ago….

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Young Adults