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America’s Changing Religious Landscape

May 12, 2015 Comments off

America’s Changing Religious Landscape
Source: Pew Research Center

The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center. Moreover, these changes are taking place across the religious landscape, affecting all regions of the country and many demographic groups. While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults, it is occurring among Americans of all ages. The same trends are seen among whites, blacks and Latinos; among both college graduates and adults with only a high school education; and among women as well as men.

Religious Understandings of Science

April 30, 2015 Comments off

Religious Understandings of Science (PDF)
Source: Rice University
From press release:

The public’s view that science and religion can’t work in collaboration is a misconception that stunts progress, according to a new survey of more than 10,000 Americans, scientists and evangelical Protestants. The study by Rice University also found that scientists and the general public are surprisingly similar in their religious practices.

The study, “Religious Understandings of Science (RUS),” was conducted by sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund and presented today in Chicago during the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference. Ecklund is the Autrey Professor of Sociology and director of Rice’s Religion and Public Life Program.

“We found that nearly 50 percent of evangelicals believe that science and religion can work together and support one another,” Ecklund said. “That’s in contrast to the fact that only 38 percent of Americans feel that science and religion can work in collaboration.”

The study also found that 18 percent of scientists attended weekly religious services, compared with 20 percent of the general U.S. population; 15 percent consider themselves very religious (versus 19 percent of the general U.S. population); 13.5 percent read religious texts weekly (compared with 17 percent of the U.S. population); and 19 percent pray several times a day (versus 26 percent of the U.S. population).

CRS — Free Exercise of Religion by Closely Held Corporations: Implications of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (April 6, 2015)

April 15, 2015 Comments off

Free Exercise of Religion by Closely Held Corporations: Implications of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

A 5-4 decision, issued over a highly critical dissent, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. resolved one of the many challenges raised in response to the contraceptive coverage requirement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Imputing the beliefs of owners of closely held corporations to such corporations, the U.S. Supreme Court found that closely held corporations that hold religious objections to certain contraceptive services cannot be required to provide coverage of those services in employee health plans. The Court’s decision was based on the protections offered under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a statute prohibiting the government from imposing a substantial burden on a person’s religious exercise unless it can show a compelling interest achieved by the least restrictive means. The Court declined to address the constitutional challenge, holding that the companies were protected under RFRA.

In the absence of a definition under RFRA, the majority interpreted the term “person” to include closely held corporations, even if they operated for-profit, and determined that the penalties that such companies would face if they failed to comply with the contraceptive coverage requirement would impose a substantial burden. Though the Court assumed that the government had a compelling interest to require contraceptive coverage under ACA, it found that less restrictive means (e.g., expanding the regulatory accommodation available to nonprofit employers with similar objections) could achieve that interest without requiring companies with religious objections to be subject to the requirement.

Faith-Based Funding Backed, But Church-State Doubts Abound

April 7, 2015 Comments off

Faith-Based Funding Backed, But Church-State Doubts Abound
Source: Pew Research Center

As religion plays a more prominent role in public life, sharp divisions of opinion about the mixing of church and state are apparent. Most notably, while the public expresses strong support for the idea of faith-based groups receiving government funding to provide social services, in practice, it has many reservations. Most Americans would not extend that right to non-Judeo-Christian religious groups including: Muslim Americans, Buddhist Americans, Nation of Islam and the Church of Scientology. Many also have reservations about allowing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — the Mormons — to apply for federal funding to offer social services.

Beyond which religions are acceptable, strong concerns are expressed about what government might do to religion and what religious groups might do to the people they are trying to help. On the one hand, fully 68% worry that faith- based initiatives might lead to too much government involvement with religious organizations. On the other, six-in-ten express concerns that religious groups would proselytize among recipients of social services, and about the same percentage would prohibit groups that encourage religious conversion from receiving government funds. Americans have an even bigger problem with government-funded religious organizations hiring only those people who share their beliefs — 78% oppose that concept.

The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050

April 6, 2015 Comments off

The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050
Source: Pew Research Center

The religious profile of the world is rapidly changing, driven primarily by differences in fertility rates and the size of youth populations among the world’s major religions, as well as by people switching faiths. Over the next four decades, Christians will remain the largest religious group, but Islam will grow faster than any other major religion. If current trends continue, by 2050 …

  • The number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world.
  • Atheists, agnostics and other people who do not affiliate with any religion – though increasing in countries such as the United States and France – will make up a declining share of the world’s total population.
  • The global Buddhist population will be about the same size it was in 2010, while the
  • Hindu and Jewish populations will be larger than they are today.
  • In Europe, Muslims will make up 10% of the overall population.
  • India will retain a Hindu majority but also will have the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, surpassing Indonesia.
  • In the United States, Christians will decline from more than three-quarters of the population in 2010 to two-thirds in 2050, and Judaism will no longer be the largest non-Christian religion. Muslims will be more numerous in the U.S. than people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion.
  • Four out of every 10 Christians in the world will live in sub-Saharan Africa.

The future size of religiously affiliated and unaffiliated populations

April 3, 2015 Comments off

The future size of religiously affiliated and unaffiliated populations
Source: Demographic Research

Background:
People who are religiously unaffiliated (including self-identifying atheists and agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is “nothing in particular”) made up 16.4% of the world’s population in 2010. Unaffiliated populations have been growing in North America and Europe, leading some to expect that this group will grow as a share of the world’s population. However, such forecasts overlook the impact of demographic factors, such as fertility and the large, aging unaffiliated population in Asia.

Objective:
We project the future size of religiously affiliated and unaffiliated populations around the world.

Methods:
We use multistate cohort-component methods to project the size of religiously affiliated and unaffiliated populations. Projection inputs such as religious composition, differential fertility, and age structure data, as well as religious switching patterns, are based on the best available census and survey data for each country. This research is based on an analysis of more than 2,500 data sources.

Results:
Taking demographic factors into account, we project that the unaffiliated will make up 13.2% of the world’s population in 2050. The median age of religiously affiliated women is six years younger than unaffiliated women. The 2010-15 Total Fertility Rate for those with a religious affiliation is 2.59 children per woman, nearly a full child higher than the rate for the unaffiliated (1.65 children per woman).

Conclusions:
The religiously unaffiliated are projected to decline as a share of the world’s population in the decades ahead because their net growth through religious switching will be more than offset by higher childbearing among the younger affiliated population.

Religious vs. Conventional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Major Depression in Persons With Chronic Medical Illness: A Pilot Randomized Trial

April 3, 2015 Comments off

Religious vs. Conventional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Major Depression in Persons With Chronic Medical Illness: A Pilot Randomized Trial (PDF)
Source: Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease

We examine the efficacy of conventional cognitive behavioral therapy (CCBT) versus religiously integrated CBT (RCBT) in persons with major depression and chronic medical illness. Participants were randomized to either CCBT (n = 67) or RCBT (n = 65). The intervention in both groups consisted of ten 50-minute sessions delivered remotely during 12 weeks (94% by telephone). Adherence to treatment was similar, except in more religious participants in whom adherence to RCBT was slightly greater (85.7% vs. 65.9%, p = 0.10). The intention-to-treat analysis at 12 weeks indicated no significant difference in outcome between the two groups (B = 0.33; SE, 1.80; p = 0.86). Response rates and remission rates were also similar. Overall religiosity interacted with treatment group (B = −0.10; SE, 0.05; p = 0.048), suggesting that RCBT was slightly more efficacious in the more religious participants. These preliminary findings suggest that CCBT and RCBT are equivalent treatments of major depression in persons with chronic medical illness. Efficacy, as well as adherence, may be affected by client religiosity.

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