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Survey | How Race and Religion Shape Millennial Attitudes on Sexuality and Reproductive Health

March 27, 2015 Comments off

Survey | How Race and Religion Shape Millennial Attitudes on Sexuality and Reproductive Health
Source: Public Religion Research Institute

A majority (53%) of millennials say the country has gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track, compared to 45% who say it is going in the right direction. White and black millennials are near mirror opposites: close to two-thirds (64%) of white millennials say the country has gotten off on the wrong track, while more than seven in ten (71%) black millennials say it is moving in the right direction. A majority (53%) of Hispanic millennials also say the country is moving in the right direction. Asian-Pacific Islander (API) millennials are more divided—49% say right direction, 46% say wrong track.

Three-quarters (75%) of millennials favor teaching comprehensive sex education in public schools, while 21% are opposed. Support for this policy cuts across all racial, ethnic, and religious groups.

Can Islamic Banking Increase Financial Inclusion?

March 23, 2015 Comments off

Can Islamic Banking Increase Financial Inclusion?
Source: International Monetary Fund

The paper analyses existing country-level information on the relationship between the development of Islamic banking and financial inclusion. In Muslim countries—members of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC)—various indicators of financial inclusion tend to be lower, and the share of excluded individuals citing religious reasons for not using bank accounts is noticeably greater than in other countries; Islamic banking would therefore seem to be an effective avenue for financial inclusion. We found, however, that although physical access to financial services has grown more rapidly in the OIC countries, the use of these services has not increased as quickly. Moreover, regression analyis shows evidence of a positive link to credit to households and to firms for financing investment, but this empirical link remains tentative and relatively weak. The paper explores reasons that this might be the case and suggests several recommendations to enhance the ability of Islamic banking to promote financial inclusion.

From paper state to caliphate: The ideology of the Islamic State

March 12, 2015 Comments off

From paper state to caliphate: The ideology of the Islamic State
Source: Brookings Institution

While the Islamic State dominates headlines through its brutal tactics and pervasive propaganda, there is little awareness of the unique ideology driving the group’s strategy. Drawing from private correspondence, statements, speeches, and Islamic theology, Cole Bunzel unpacks the ideology of the Islamic State in a new analysis paper.

The Islamic State, Bunzel argues, is inconceivable apart from its ideology. Like al-Qaida, the group identifies with a movement in Islamic political thought known as jihadi-Salafism, or jihadism for short. Jihadi-Salafism is a distinct ideological movement in Sunni Islam, encompassing not only militant groups, but also a global network of scholars, websites, media outlets, and numerous supporters on social media.

The Islamic State’s version of jihadi-Salafism is predicated on an extremist reading of Islamic scripture that is also textually rigorous, deeply rooted in a premodern theological tradition, and elaborated on by a recognized cadre of religious authorities. Founded in 2006 as an al-Qaida offshoot, the Islamic State’s founders espoused sharply anti-Shiite sectarian views and harsh application of Islamic law. Empowered by its ideology, the group rose from a “paper state” of little influence to a global jihadi movement.

Bunzel argues that the coalition military campaign may actually strengthen the Islamic State’s ideology by lending credence to one of the group’s fundamental views: the idea that Shia are conspiring with the United States and secular Arab rulers to limit Sunni power in the Middle East. Instead, Bunzel recommends regional governments take the lead in countering the Islamic State by deconstructing its violent ideology and eroding the legitimacy of its claims to statehood. Reducing the Islamic State from a “caliphate” back to a “paper state,” Bunzel writes, may stem the group’s influence.

Constitutional Provisions on National and Religious Identity

March 2, 2015 Comments off

Constitutional Provisions on National and Religious Identity
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report contains information on provisions in constitutions and other founding documents specifying an ethnic or religious identity for an Asian or European country. Section I covers twenty countries and includes those indicating an ethnic identity and in some cases also a religious one. Section II covers four countries for whom those documents mention only a religious identity, not an ethnic one, and whose constitutions indicate that the specified religion is the basis for legislation. Section III covers thirteen countries that specify a religion, without necessarily indicating that religion is the basis of legislation and without any single ethnic identity.

American Values Atlas

February 26, 2015 Comments off

American Values Atlas
Source: Public Religion Research Institute

The American Values Atlas (AVA) is a powerful new tool for understanding the complex demographic, religious, and cultural changes occurring in the United States today. Recognizing the need to provide a more complete portrait of substantial diversity of opinion, identities and values across the U.S. PRRI launched the AVA in late 2014. The AVA’s interactive mapping system allows users to explore the differences and similarities between America’s diverse religious, political, and demographic communities. In 2015, the AVA launched specific issue modules, covering topics such as immigration, abortion, LGBT issues, and others.

The American Values Atlas draws upon 50,000 annual telephone interviews among a random sample of Americans to deliver an unprecedented level of detail about the United States’ cultural and religious landscape. With its large sample size, the AVA provides a rare look at the profiles of smaller religious communities, such as Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Hindus, Buddhists, and others, who are often omitted from depictions of the country’s religious population. The AVA’s scope also allows its users to explore the increasing diversity of specific regions, all 50 states, and 30 major metropolitan areas.

One of the key advantages of the American Values Atlas, and one that differentiates it from other large-scale studies, is that it is a dynamic, ongoing project. Each year, PRRI will conduct a new wave of approximately 50,000 interviews, which will provide an up-to-date view of America’s changing religious, cultural and political landscape.

Religion and fertility: The French connection

February 13, 2015 Comments off

Religion and fertility: The French connection
Source: Demographic Research

Background:
France has been among the first countries to become sacularized but has preserved a Catholic identity. Before 2008, French laws made it very difficult to collect data on an individual’s religious affiliation. The dataset “Enquête Mode de Vie des Français” is the first allowing one to collect such data.

Objective:
I investigate the impact that being a Catholic has on fertility in France. I answer two main questions: (i) Do Catholic people have more children than others? (ii) Why is this the case?

Methods:
Fertility is measured by the number of children ever born. I use the dataset “Enquête Mode de Vie des Français” and Zero-Inflated Poisson regression models. Individual religiosity is approximated by the attendance at religious services.

Results:
I first show that practicing Catholics have more children than the rest of the population, while this is not verified for nominal Catholics. I also construct two variables allowing me to detect that particularized ideology mechanisms (Goldscheider 1971) can explain in part why religion has an impact on fertility in my dataset. Nevertheless, I cannot exclude the social interaction hypothesis. The multivariate analysis I provide also validates the main mechanisms of the rational actor model.

Conclusions:
I implement several robustness checks showing that my main results are robust to changing my regression model (ordered probit and linear regressions) and the way religiousness and fertility are measured.

Escape from Hell: Torture, Sexual Slavery in Islamic State Captivity in Iraq

January 29, 2015 Comments off

Escape from Hell: Torture, Sexual Slavery in Islamic State Captivity in Iraq
Source: Amnesty International

Torture, including rape and other forms of sexual violence, suffered by women and girls from Iraq’s Yezidi minority who were abducted by the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS), highlights the savagery of IS rule.

Escape from Hell – Torture, Sexual Slavery in Islamic State Captivity in Iraq provides an insight into the horrifying abuse suffered by hundreds and possibly thousands of Yezidi women and girls who have been forcibly married, “sold” or given as “gifts” to IS fighters or their supporters. Often, captives were forced to convert to Islam.

The women and girls are among thousands of Yezidis from the Sinjar region in north-west Iraq who have been targeted since August in a wave of ethnic cleansing by IS fighters bent on wiping out ethnic and religious minorities in the area.

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