Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 18 hours 20 min ago
More Americans today say religion’s influence is losing ground just when they want it to play a stronger role in public life and politics.A new Pew Research Center survey finds 72 percent of Americans say religion’s influence is declining in society — the highest percentage since Pew began measuring the trend in 2001, when only 52 percent held that view.“Most people (overwhelmingly Christians) view this as a bad thing,” said Greg Smith, associate director of Pew’s Religion & Public Life Project. “That unhappiness may be behind their desire for more religion and politics.”Growing numbers want their politicians to pray in public and for their clergy to endorse candidates from the pulpit. And nearly half of Americans say business owners with religious objections to gay marriage should to be able to refuse wedding-related services to same-sex couples.There are three ways to look at the findings, released Sept. 22:
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 5 days 14 hours ago
James Merritt spent years as senior pastor of an Atlanta-area megachurch that featured a mighty choir.Then he changed his tune.At 50, he left First Baptist Church Snellville to plant a new church — 200 people in a rented space at a high school 12 miles away — focused on reaching a young generation.There was and is no choir. And that puts Merritt’s current congregation, Cross Pointe Church, right on trend.The newly released National Congregations Study finds church choirs are on the downbeat in white Protestant churches across the theological spectrum.Choirs stand strong in black Protestant congregations, where 90 percent of regular attendees say there’s a choir at the main service. The same is true for three in four (76 percent) Catholic worshippers.But among white conservative evangelicals, only 40 percent of worshippers say they hear a choir at services, down from 63 percent 14 years ago.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 1 week 4 days ago
U.S. religious congregations are marching to their own drums now more than ever.The National Congregations Study‘s latest look at the country’s churches, synagogues and mosques — the third wave of studies that began in 1998 — finds more congregations:Open their doors to gays and lesbians in active membership and in leadership.Show racial and ethnic diversity in the pews.Encourage hand-waving, amen-shouting, and dancing-in-the-aisles during worship.Disconnect from denominational ties doctrines and rules that might slow or block change.The study, released Thursday (Sept. 11), draws on interviews with leaders at 1,331 nationally representative congregations and updates data from 1998 and 2006 studies. Non-Christian congregations were included in the study but there are too few for statistical analysis by topics.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 2 weeks 16 hours ago
As thousands gathered Sept. 5 at Temple Beth Am in Miami to mourn journalist Steven Sotloff, they paid tribute to the one quality his family and friends tried hard to conceal from his Islamic State captors: his Jewishness.Sotloff was not only Jewish, he held U.S.-Israel dual citizenship. But during that terrible year of his captivity, dozens of family and friends worked to scrub that detail from any public mention of the 31-year-old reporter for fear he would be persecuted for it. It appears word never got out, though he was brutally beheaded nonetheless.In death, the Jewish values that informed his life are coming forward. One of the most moving testimonies Friday came from a childhood classmate Danielle Berrin, who writes for the Jewish Journal in Los Angeles.Speaking to Jose Diaz-Balart on his morning MSNBC talk show, Berrin said Sotloff’s Jewish education was “one of the beautiful things” about him.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 2 weeks 3 days ago
Joan Rivers, 81, the acid-tongued survivor of popular comedy and entertainment, died Sept. 4. Who could possibly find it funny?Joan would have.Humor, she said, was how she dealt with all life’s triumphs and defeats.She once said, “I knew I was funny and I knew it was powerful” as early as 8 years old.Born Joan Alexandra Molinsky in Brooklyn, the daughter of Russian immigrant Jews, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard. (“My mother wanted M.D. to stand for Make Dollars.”)But she couldn’t get a door opened to the stage until she started making the gatekeepers — the agents’ secretaries — laugh.She worked her way up through New York comedy clubs, over into TV and finally, after seven auditions, onto a stand-up stint on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show.” By 1983, she was Carson’s regular guest host until a bitter feud over her competing TV endeavors brought their friendship to an end.Rivers’ first marriage ended in divorce; her second ended in tragedy when her husband killed himself. Even so, she said, “I enjoy life when things are happening. I don’t care if it’s good things or bad things. That means you’re alive.”
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 4 weeks 5 days ago
The Moral Monday movement, birthed by activists who protest the actions of the North Carolina General Assembly, will expand to 12 states on August 22 in a so-called Moral Week of Action.The Rev. William J. Barber II, president of the NAACP in North Carolina and organizer of the Moral Monday movement, announced that Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania , Tennessee, and Wisconsin would join up.Each state is mobilizing social justice activists and clergy to call out governors and state legislatures for “regressive attacks” on the people Jesus called “the least of these,” Barber said in a press call on August 19. Last year, more than 1,000 people were arrested during a series of Moral Mondays in North Carolina.The objective is to push for the politicians to “repent and reform,” he said. But the marchers will have a daily theme promoting positive actions, not only decrying current policies, he said. Each state sets its own program, but most emphasize the same issues as North Carolina. After each rally there, participants will fan out to register voters.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 6 weeks 3 days ago
You don’t need a doctoral degree to think higher education leads people away from organized religion. That’s been common wisdom for decades.Now, a sociologist’s new generational study upends that thinking.Today, it’s the least-educated members of Generation X—people born roughly between 1965 and 1980—who are “most likely to leave religion,” said Philip Schwadel, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.Millennials—Americans roughly between the ages 18 and 30—were not included in the study because, Schwadel said, it’s too soon to tell if they will settle on a religious identity.Schwadel, whose study is published in the August edition of the journal Social Forces, found a clear historical shift.“Americans born in the late 1920s and ‘30s who graduated from college were twice as likely to drop out of religion than people who didn’t graduate from college,” he said.The postwar baby boomers proved to be “the last holdout of the church dropouts.” For boomers, “a college degree was still associated with a higher likelihood of leaving religion.”However, for the generation born in the 1960s, there’s no difference between those who did and those who did not go to college in their likelihood of religious affiliation. Now, for America’s middle-aged adults who were born in the 1970s, “those without a college education are the most likely to drop out.”
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 7 weeks 6 days ago
Most Americans say the waves of children crossing into the United States from Central America are refugees fleeing danger at home. And they say the United States should support these children while reviewing their cases, not deport them immediately.These largely sympathetic views come all points along the political and religious spectrum, according to a new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute released Tuesday.Democrats (80 percent), independents (69 percent), and Republicans (57 percent) favor offering support to unaccompanied children while a process to review their cases gets underway.Most major religious groups say the same, including white evangelical Protestants (56 percent), white mainline Protestants (67 percent), minority Protestants (74 percent), Catholics (75 percent), and the religiously unaffiliated (75 percent).(The survey sample of 1,026 adults was not large enough to capture the views of smaller religious groups, such as Jews, Muslims, or Mormons).“It makes a difference that we are talking about children facing violence and harm,” said Robert P. Jones, CEO of PRRI. “The value of keeping families together cuts across all party lines.”
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 9 weeks 5 days ago
A new Pew Research survey finds U.S. adults feel most warmly about people who share their religion or those they know as family, friends or co-workers.Americans give their highest scores to Jews, Catholics, and Evangelicals on a zero-to-100 “thermometer” featured in the survey, “How Americans Feel about Religious Groups,” released Wednesday. They’re nestled within a few degrees of each other: Jews, 63; Catholics, 62; evangelicals, 61.In the middle of the chart: Buddhists, 53; Hindus, 50; Mormons, 48. Trending to the chilly negative zone: atheists at 41 and Muslims at 40.Pew took the thermal reading because “understanding the question of how religious groups view each other is valuable in a country where religion plays an important role in public life,” said Greg Smith, Pew’s associate director of religion research.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 10 weeks 3 days ago
Most Christians don’t approve of President Obama right now, but he gets high ratings from Muslims and other minority religious groups.It’s not because of their religion, though.Obama’s level of popular approval matches Americans’ political party ties, not their religious identity, age or almost any other demographic characteristic, said Jeffrey Jones, managing editor of the Gallup poll.The newest Gallup tracking poll shows the president’s approval rating in June averaged 43 percent for Americans overall. However, his ratings sank with Catholics to 44 percent, down from 54 percent in June 2013.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 11 weeks 5 days ago
What’s the next religious liberties faceoff? Some suggest it could be between LGBT workers and religious owners of private businesses.On Monday, while news media dissected the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, President Obama pledged to sign an order protecting federal employees from discrimination based on gender identity .But he has yet to sign an executive order version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban discrimination based on gender identity for all federal contractors and subcontractors, an order that affects for-profit businesses.Now, in the wake of the Hobby Lobby ruling, such an order could rile the waters again, several legal experts say. They see a line between a ruling about contraception and hiring, firing, and benefit concerns for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees.
Posted by Lauren Markoe, Cathy Lynn Grossman 12 weeks 15 hours ago
Five things to know about one of the most anticipated Supreme Court decisions of the year:1. Corporations can’t pray, but they do have religious rights.Hobby Lobby isn’t a person. It’s a chain of crafts stores owned by a religious family. And though the evangelical Green family objects to parts of the Affordable Care Act’s emergency contraception mandate, it’s not the Greens but the company that writes the check for employees’ health insurance. The first question the justices had to answer was this: Does Hobby Lobby have religious rights? To many Americans, this sounds a little nutty. Does a craft store believe in God?A majority of the justices held that a closely held company such as Hobby Lobby does have religious rights. The court didn’t apply those rights, however, to publicly held corporations, where owners’ religious beliefs would be hard to discern.But well before the justices had delivered their verdict on this question, many legal scholars said they wouldn’t be surprised were they to affirm the company’s religious rights. American corporations do have some of the rights and responsibilities we usually associate with people. And in the 2010Citizens United campaign finance case, the justices overturned bans on corporate political spending as a violation of freedom of speech — corporations’ free speech.
Posted by Lauren Markoe, Cathy Lynn Grossman 12 weeks 20 hours ago
The Supreme Court on Monday sided with the evangelical owners of Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., ruling 5-4 that the arts-and-crafts chain does not have to offer insurance for types of birth control that conflict with company owners’ religious beliefs.Beyond the specifics of the Hobby Lobby case before them, the justices broke new legal ground by affirming that corporations, not just individual Americans or religious non-profits, may claim religious rights.Does Monday’s decision mean, however, that the religious beliefs of business owners stand paramount? That they are more important than a female employee’s right to choose from the full array of birth control methods she is promised under the Affordable Care Act? Or that a business owner may invoke his religious rights to deny service to a gay couple?Not necessarily, legal experts say.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 12 weeks 3 days ago
Toss out the party and ideology labels: Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal.The Pew Research Center’s new survey, “ Beyond Red VS Blue: The Political Typology,” finds no sharp lines dividing people by their views on politics, faith, family, and the role and limits of government.“It’s a spectrum,” said Michael Dimock, vice president for research for Pew Research Center.Looking at questions relating to faith and family, he observed, “the caricature that all religious people are Republican is just not true.”Black and Hispanic political liberals who attend church and hold conservative views on issues such as gay marriage hew red on social issues.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 12 weeks 5 days ago
Just because interfaith, interracial, and varied ethnic groups share a common cause doesn’t mean a diverse coalition can hang together.It often takes prayer. And not just a “Bless this group, Amen,” invocation.A new study by three sociologists finds that three out of four interfaith civic coalitions turn to what the sociologists have dubbed “bridging prayer” — interactive, participatory, and often innovative prayers and rituals that highlight their shared identity as people of faith.“Shared issues alone don’t necessarily ensure cooperation,” said Ruth Braunstein, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut. “But groups that cannot build a shared culture could find it very difficult to succeed.”
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 13 weeks 20 hours ago
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to finally issue its ruling this week in the highly anticipated case of the craft companies vs. Obamacare.Technically, it’s Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a showdown over the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate. The core legal question is whether a private company can have religious rights.But to the general public, this is seen as a showdown between employers — the evangelical Green family behind Hobby Lobby and the Mennonite Hahn familythat owns the Conestoga cabinet company — and the employees’ personal reproductive choices under their insurance.While conservatives have cast the battle as one for religious freedom, the general public may see it as a showdown over personal health choices.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 14 weeks 5 days ago
A Christian, a Muslim, and a Jew turn up together on a Washington, D.C., bus.It’s no joke. They’re the faces of a new ad campaign by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil liberties group. And the ad is the latest volley between Muslim and anti-Muslim groups that has played out most recently on the sides of buses in the nation’s capital.First, the American Muslims for Palestine ran ads during peak D.C. tourism season, the Cherry Blossom Festival in April, condemning U.S. aid to Israel.A month later, blogger Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative responded with bus ads featuring photos of Hitler meeting the grand mufti of Jerusalem and a text equating opposition to Israel’s territorial policies with Nazism.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 17 weeks 5 days ago
A public opinion war on Middle East politics is playing out this spring in new advertising campaigns on public buses and in newspapers.It began when the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) launched bus ads during the April Cherry Blossom Festival condemning U.S. aid to Israel because of that country’s continuing occupation of Palestinian territories.Then on Monday, Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative countered by deploying 15-foot-long ads on 20 buses in the Washington, D.C., system that equate opposition to Israel’s policies with Nazism. One ad shows the grand mufti of Jerusalem meeting Hitler during World War II.“The bus system is considered public space, so speech has First Amendment protections,” said Caroline Laurin, a spokeswoman for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. “We have no grounds to refuse ads due to their content.”
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 18 weeks 18 hours ago
“I know what you did last Sunday,” claims the title of a new survey.You skipped church. And then nearly one in seven of you fibbed about attending.That’s according to a new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute released Saturday. The study, to be presented at the national meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, was designed to measure the “social desirability bias in self-reported religious behavior.”The survey finds that many Christians — and unbelievers, too — will exaggerate about attending worship in live phone interviews. However, when asked in an anonymous online questionnaire, people will answer more realistically.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 19 weeks 4 days ago
The Pew Research Center’s look at “The Shifting Religious Identity of Latinos in the United States” also examined their beliefs, behavior, and views on social issues. It finds that, beyond the church doors in the lives of the faithful, there are distinct differences between Hispanic evangelicals and Hispanic Catholics:Catholics are less likely than evangelicals to:Attend services weekly — Catholic, 40 percent; evangelical, 71 percentPray daily — Catholic, 61 percent; evangelical, 84 percentTake a literal view of the Bible — Catholic, 45 percent; evangelical, 63 percentThink abortion should be illegal in all/most cases — Catholic, 54 percent; evangelical, 70 percent
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 19 weeks 5 days ago
A new report on the “Shifting Religious Identity of Latinos” reads very much like a biography of Fernando Alcantar.Like six in 10 Hispanic Catholics in the U.S., he was born in Mexico, where “you are Catholic as much as you are Mexican. You like jalapenos and worship the Virgin of Guadalupe,” he said.But once he moved to California after high school, his faith journey diverged — and derailed. Today, Alcantar, 36 calls himself a humanist.The Pew survey report released Wednesday is subtitled: “Nearly One in Four Latinos are former Catholics.” And Alcantar is one of them.
Posted by Lauren Markoe, Cathy Lynn Grossman 20 weeks 16 hours ago
The Supreme Court Monday declared that the Constitution not only allows for prayer at government meetings, but religious prayer.Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy held that the town of Greece, N.Y., did not violate the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, which forbids the government from endorsing a religion — by sponsoring clergy who delivered sectarian prayers.“To hold that invocations must be non-sectarian would force the legislatures sponsoring prayers and the courts deciding these cases to act as supervisors and censors of religious speech,” Kennedy wrote for himself and the conservatives on the court.Lawmakers and judges would otherwise have to police prayer, he wrote, involving “government in religious matters to a far greater degree than is the case under the town’s current practice of neither editing nor approving prayers in advance nor criticizing their contact after the fact.”
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 20 weeks 6 days ago
Despite progress in defeating extreme global poverty, most Americans see no end in sight, according to a survey sponsored by Compassion International.Christians who attend church at least monthly and consider religion very important in their life overwhelmingly (96 percent) expressed concern about the world’s poorest people. But they were skeptical that global poverty could be ended in the next 25 years. Only 41 percent of the group said it was possible.And yet Scott Todd of Compassion International, the Christian nonprofit agency that sponsors 1.5 million children abroad, remains upbeat. He sees hope in the numbers of “practicing Christians” who express concern about poverty and a willingness to do more.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 21 weeks 4 days ago
The Bible encourages the “repression of women,” and it’s silent on such fraught topics as war or slavery.As least, that’s what about one in five U.S. adults believe. But they’re wrong.The American Bible Society’s annual “State of the Bible” survey reveals “the people of the book are not people of this book,” said Geof Morin, chief communication officer for the society.“We know 88 percent of people say they have a Bible. They think: ‘I have a Bible. I have had one for a long time. I must know what’s in it.’ But people overestimate their knowledge,” Morin said.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 21 weeks 6 days ago
The U.S. Supreme Court will soon rule on the constitutionality of prayer at public meetings. But a new survey finds U.S. voters clearly favor prayer – as long the public prayer is generic and not specifically Christian.Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind survey asked about attitudes on high profile cases before the court, including Greece v. Galloway. That case addresses whether elected officials can open public meetings with religiously specific prayers , such as praying in Jesus’ name.A Jew and an atheist brought suit in Greece, N.Y., saying the Christian prayers excluded many citizens and violated the Constitution, which bans government establishment of religion. Even when the town began inviting non-Christians to give invocations, the “establishment” issue remained a question.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 26 weeks 6 days ago
Once Steve Green sets his path, there’s no turning back.Not when he and his high school girlfriend, Jackie, totaled their cars playing chicken. “No one turned off,” he said, recalling how he aimed right at her and she just kept coming. A year later, she married him.Not when he saw no point in college, going directly into his family’s Hobby Lobby craft store business. Green, now 50, rose up from assembling picture frames for “bubble gum money” at age 7 through every job, including cleaning toilets, to president of the $3.3 billion national chain, one of the nation’s largest private companies.And certainly not now when, he says, the U.S. government is challenging his unshakeable Christian faith and his religious liberty.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 27 weeks 4 days ago
In recent surveys, the religious “nones” — as in, “none of the above” — appear to lead in the faith marketplace. In fact, “none” could soon be the dominant label U.S. adults pick when asked to describe their religious identity.But they may not be who you think they are. Today, “nones” include many more unbranded believers than atheists, and an increasingly diverse racial and ethnic mix.And, researchers say, this is already making nones’ attitudes and opinions less predictably liberal on social issues.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 29 weeks 4 days ago
Americans’ attitudes toward the lives and choices of gays and lesbians have changed radically since Massachusetts first legalized same — sex marriage a decade ago.A new survey finds a significant shift toward tolerance across every religious, political, and age group and every region of the country, said Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute. PRRI’s survey, released Wednesday, reveals the ramifications of these changes in family, church, and community life.“Only the issue of marijuana looks anything like this in terms of rapid movement in favorability,” Jones said. “But with that one exception, it’s unusual to see this much change in a relatively short amount of time.”
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 30 weeks 6 days ago
Scientists and Christian evangelicals can collaborate for the good of society but it will take some serious effort, experts said as they launched a new campaign to change perceptions between the two groups.The American Association for the Advancement of Science and its Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion program released a major research project on Sunday, at the AAAS annual meeting in Chicago, and announced an upcoming series of conferences mixing believers, scientists, and many who are both.The massive survey of views on God, religion, science included 10,241 respondents and took a particularly close look at the views of evangelicals and people in science-related occupations.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 33 weeks 5 days ago
Conception. Pregnancy. Abortion. Abortifacient.Those words today are in a rhetorical swamp where contesting religious, medical, and political views muddy understanding. And soon the U.S. Supreme Court will wade in.On March 25, it will hear challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s provision that employers must provide insurance coverage with no co-pays for contraception.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 35 weeks 4 days ago
Most Americans don’t think God or the devil will be picking the NFL playoff winners this weekend or any other sports champions. But some will pray nonetheless, and a few will “religiously” perform little game-day rituals just in case.A survey by Public Religion Research Institute, released Thursday, probes the crossover between team spirit and spirituality.Most Americans (60 percent) call themselves fans of a particular team. Among this group, several will do a little dance or say a little prayer to help the team along:21 percent (including one in four football fans) will wear special clothes or do special rituals. Donning a team jersey leads the way (66 percent). But some admit they get a little funky with their underwear. One fan wears dirty undershorts on top of his jeans. (No word if these are boxers or briefs.)25 percent (including 31 percent of football fans) have sometimes felt their team has been cursed. (No word on how many are Red Sox fans.)26 percent (including one in three football fans) say they pray to God to help their team. White evangelicals are most likely to lean on the Lord on this: 38 percent will pray, more than any other religious group.Football fans are also more likely than other fans to admit praying for their team (33 percent to 21 percent), performing pre-game or game-time rituals (25 percent to 18 percent), or to believe that their team has been cursed (31 percent to 18 percent).
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 36 weeks 20 hours ago
Pope Francis released the names of 19 new princes of the Catholic Church Sunday — none from the United States.The list included cardinals for Burkina Faso and Haiti to show “concern for people struck by poverty,” according to Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi. And the pope created new cardinalatial sees, Perugia in Italy, and Cotabato on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. The consistory, scheduled for late February, will fill 13 vacant seats plus bring in three more cardinals to replace those who will turn age 80 — too old to vote in a papal election — by the end of May.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 36 weeks 3 days ago
Folks who have just knocked back two drinks say they’re really aware of God at that moment.And good sleep enhances a sense of God, joy, peace, and love.Who knew?Actually, about 160 people, so far, know such details about their spiritual lives. They were the first participants in SoulPulse, a newly launched, ongoing study of spirituality in daily life.It’s an “experiential” research survey inspired by pastor/author John Ortberg and conducted by a team led by Bradley Wright, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut and author of Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites … and Other Lies You’ve Been Told.Twice a day for two weeks, participants receive questions asking about their experiences of spirituality, their emotions, activities, and more at the moment the text messages arrive.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 38 weeks 6 days ago
Merry what? Just in time for Christmas, new statistics show “no religion is the new religion” in Great Britain, according to a study released Monday.The study, by Westminster Faith Debates, finds 38 percent adults in Great Britain, and 48 percent of those ages 18 to 29, checked no religion in online surveys conducted in January and June by YouGov.These numbers fall midway between the findings of two other British studies that both show a trend away from the pews.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 39 weeks 5 days ago
Nearly one in three Americans, including many with no little children at home and those with no religious identity, say they pretend Santa will visit their house on Christmas Eve.Overall, 31 percent of U.S. adults play up the Santa role in their holiday season, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.Jesus, however, is still the star of Christmas.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 39 weeks 6 days ago
Nine in 10 Americans will celebrate Christmas this year, but a new poll shows that increasing numbers see the holiday as more tinsel than gospel truth.This year more than ever, Americans prefer that stores and businesses welcome them with the more generic “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” than “Merry Christmas,” according to a survey released Tuesday by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service.And for one in four American adults (26 percent), Dec. 25 is simply a cultural holiday, not a religious holy day.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 41 weeks 6 days ago
This is Giving Tuesday, when nonprofits of every stripe hope to attract some of the billions of dollars to be spent during the Hanukkah and Christmas season.Many of those dollars will go to religious groups. Now, new research is expanding the meaning of “religious giving.” It counts motivation for giving, and measures not only gifts to houses of worship but also donations to faith-connected nonprofits that are doing secular service such as fighting poverty or offering job training for the disabled.“Most people cite their religious commitments, but most also cite the belief that they should give to benefit others. Many people hold both these impulses at the same time,” said Shawn Landres, a co-author of the research report, “Connected to Give: Faith Communities.”
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 43 weeks 4 days ago
Death may be inevitable, but one in three Americans – including most blacks and Hispanics – want doctors to never quit fighting it.And that number has nearly doubled in 23 years, a new survey finds.In 1990, 15 percent of U.S. adults said doctors should do everything possible for a patient, even in the face of incurable illness and pain. Today, 31 percent hold that view, according to a report released Thursday by the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project.The majority of U.S. adults (66 percent) still say there are circumstances when a patient should be allowed to die. At the same time, however, the never-say-die view calling for nonstop aggressive treatment has increased across every religion, race, ethnicity, and level of education.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 44 weeks 4 days ago
Nearly every home has at least one Bible, although few read it.But 16 percent of Americans log on to Twitter every day. And that’s where author Jana Riess takes the word of God. A popular Mormon blogger at Religion News Service and author of “Flunking Sainthood,” Riess spent four years tweeting every book of the Old and New Testaments with pith and wit.Now, the complete collection — each chapter condensed to 140 characters — is on sale as “The Twible,” (rhymes with Bible) with added cartoons and zippy summaries for each biblical book.Her tweets mix theology with pop-culture inside jokes on sources as varied as ”Pride and Prejudice,” “The Lord of the Rings,” and digital acronyms such as LYAS (love you as a sister). To save on precious character count, God is simply “G.”
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 45 weeks 5 days ago
As a law extending workplace protection to gay, bisexual, and transgender workers makes its way through the Senate this week, there’s a shift in the political air: Arguments that stand purely on religious grounds are no longer holding the same degree of political sway they once did.The rhetoric from Republican and conservative opponents of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is moving away from the morality of the bedroom and into the business sphere. More politicians are fighting ENDA as a bad economic move, not as a break with the Bible.ENDA would “increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” Speaker John A. Boehner said in a statement released Monday, which made clear the Senate bill is dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled House.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 47 weeks 5 days ago
The rite of baptism got big press as Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby christened Prince George, a future king of England on Wednesday.Welby made it a teachable moment for a country where only one in six are baptized. In a YouTube video, he explains that by bringing their son forward for baptism, Prince William and Duchess Catherine are “bringing God into the middle of it all.”Last month, Pope Francis gave the sacrament a boost when he called a pregnant, unmarried woman to encourage her faith and offered to baptize her baby. While his main message was anti-abortion, his call also reminded Catholics that children of unmarried parents are welcome in the church.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 48 weeks 3 days ago
In the Bible, few dine alone.Small wonder that Christians and Jews see sharing a meal with family, guests, and strangers as a form of spiritual nourishment and hospitality — as valuable as the bread passed around the table.Although the holiday season’s family feasts are fast approaching, many say it’s the weekly family meal that matters most across time.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 48 weeks 6 days ago
Who are the mainline Protestants today? Vintage Protestants? The VPCC — Vanishing Progressive Christian Church? The Legacy Church?Half a century ago, the denominations under the mainline umbrella dominated the American faith landscape. Now, after decades of declining numbers, only about one in five U.S. adults identifies with a mainline denomination such as United Methodists, the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA), and American Baptists.Could replacing the “mainline” name help stem the slide? The challenge came from scholar and Presbyterian pastor Carol Howard Merritt. Writing in the venerable Christian Century magazine, she called for a new brand that conveys her view of the mainline’s rising diversity and social justice leadership.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 49 weeks 3 days ago
Where once it seemed that uncritical devotion to Israel was the norm for U.S Jews, that Zionism and Judaism were hand-in-glove, new research finds that’s not the case today — if it ever was.The Pew Research Center’s newly released, comprehensive Portrait of Jewish Americans not only delved into myriad ways people identify as Jews, it also probed their emotional connection and their theological and political ideas about the Jewish state.
Posted by Kevin Eckstrom, Cathy Lynn Grossman, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, David Gibson, Adelle M. Banks, Katherine Burgess 49 weeks 5 days ago
As the government shutdown enters its second week, some religious groups are starting to feel the pinch, and they’re also finding ways to reach out.More than 90 Catholic, evangelical, and Protestant leaders have signed a statement rebuking “pro-life” lawmakers for the shutdown, saying they are “appalled that elected officials are pursuing an extreme ideological agenda at the expense of the working poor and vulnerable families” who won’t receive government benefits.Starting Wednesday, evangelical, Catholic, and mainline Protestant leaders will hold a daily “Faithful Filibuster” on Capitol Hill with Bible verses on the poor “to remind Congress that its dysfunction hurts struggling families and low-income people.”
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 50 weeks 5 days ago
They’re rarely at worship services and indifferent to doctrine. And they’re surprisingly fuzzy on Jesus.These are the Jewish Americans sketched in a new Pew Research Center survey, 62 percent of whom said Jewishness is largely about culture or ancestry and just 15 percent who said it’s about religious belief.But it’s not just Jews. It’s a phenomenon among U.S. Christians, too.Meet the “Nominals” — people who claim a religious identity but may live it in name only.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 50 weeks 6 days ago
Yoo-hoo! Sarah Silverman, Jon Stewart, Larry David! No matter how unreligious you comics may be, American Jews seem proud to claim you.Well, mostly. You know the joke: Two Jews, three opinions…But seriously: A sweeping new survey from the Pew Research Center, “Portrait of Jewish Americans,” finds humor is one of the main qualities that four in 10 of the nation’s 5.3 million religious and cultural Jews say is essential to their Jewish identity. The survey was released Tuesday.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 51 weeks 20 hours ago
A new survey of Hispanic political and religious values finds they’re overwhelmingly Democrats who hold a largely negative view of the Republican Party.The 2013 Hispanic Values Survey of 1,563 Hispanic adults was conducted online in both English and Spanish between Aug. 23 and Sept. 3. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.The survey found that most Hispanics are delighted with Argentine-born Pope Francis, but they hold slightly less favorable views of the Catholic Church. While nearly 69 percent look favorably on the pope, only 54 percent see the institution in a favorable light.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 51 weeks 5 days ago
After decades of glum trends — fewer priests, fewer parishes — the Catholic Church in the United States has a new statistic to cheer: More men are now enrolled in graduate-level seminaries, the main pipeline to the priesthood, than in nearly two decades.This year’s tally of 3,694 graduate theology students represents a 16 percent increase since 1995 and a 10 percent jump since 2005, according to Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).Seminary directors cite more encouragement from bishops and parishes, the draw of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and the social-justice-minded Pope Francis, and a growing sense that the church is past the corrosive impact of the sexual abuse crisis that exploded in 2002.
Posted by Cathy Lynn Grossman 1 year 23 weeks ago
Pastor Rick Warren, the best-known name in American evangelism after Rev. Billy Graham, lost his 27-year-old son, Matthew, to suicide on Friday.In the days since, uncounted strangers have joined the 20,000 congregants who worship at the megachurch network “Pastor Rick” built in Southern California, Warren’s nearly 1 million Twitter followers and hundreds of thousands of Facebook followers in flooding social media with consolation and prayer.“Kay and I are overwhelmed by your love, prayers, and kind words,” Warren tweeted on Sunday. “You are all encouraging our #brokenhearts.”But a shocking number are taking the moment of media attention to lash out at Warren on their digital tom-toms. The attacks are aimed both at him personally and at his Christian message.