Reuters blog archive
from The Great Debate:
By Amanda Marcotte
The views expressed are her own.
Listening to the national discourse, one could be forgiven for imagining that America is becoming an ever more religious place. The amount of God talk in the public square has dramatically increased in a generation. Prior to the 70s, the concept of “the religious right” had barely existed, but now it’s a powerful lobbying force with multiple groups from Focus on the Family to Concerned Women for America, all sitting on more money than most liberal special interest groups could ever hope to accumulate. Republicans, especially, claw over each other to demonstrate fealty to a very narrow, fundamentalist view of Christianity that forbids gay rights, reproductive rights, and requires you to believe that evolution never happened. A generation ago, most people outside of evangelical Christian circles had never heard of things like “megachurches” or “the Rapture”, but now even people living in the most secularist urban enclaves are familiar with these concepts, if still less than approving. Americans seem not just more religious, but more drawn to reactionary religion than ever before.
That is, until you start to dig into the actual facts. If you poll actual Americans, you’ll find that the trend is not towards more religiosity, but towards less. Much less, in fact. Recent research from the Pew Research Center on politics and generational differences shows that interest in religion is actually declining from one generation to the next, and not only that, but interest in mixing religion and politics is on the decline. When asked which factors are the key to America’s success, fewer than half of Millennials say they believe that religious faith and values are important. They are the first generation to respond in such a way, as a majority of all older generations cite religion as an important factor. Even the generation known for cynicism, Generation X, has 64% of respondents citing religion as an important factor in our nation’s success, a full 18 points over the Millennial generation. Despite myths that people become more religious or more conservative as they age, previous Pew research shows that Xers and Boomers held roughly the same opinions on religion in their youth as they do now.
The research also found that more than one in four Millennials have no religious affiliation at all, the largest of any generation, though only by a small margin, as one in five Gen Xers is also irreligious. The percentage of unaffiliated Americans has grown gradually over the generations, but with the Millennials, we’re seeing a new trend emerge. There is now a large group of Americans who have a faith, but separate it from public life, keeping it in the private sphere.
So how to square away declining rates of belief with the perception that America is a land where the Bible is thumped regularly in the public square? What we’re seeing with the heightened emphasis on religion in politics is the death throes of the old order. After all, in the past, where it was assumed that a vast majority of Americans were not only religious, but Christian, those who wanted Christianity to dominate didn’t feel they had anything to prove. It’s only when they started to feel their power threatened did they become defensive, and in doing so, became much louder.
Mitt Romney's Mormonism could hurt the Republican candidate with evangelical voters in his fight for the party's presidential nomination, but those voters would favor him over President Barack Obama in the general election, according to a newly released poll.
Some 15 percent of evangelical Christians, a key constituency in the Republican presidential nomination battle, say they are wary of Mormonism and will not vote for Mitt Romney, the Pew Research Center poll found.
from Oddly Enough Blog:
Blog Guy, do you have a personal guiding philosophy of life? You know, three or four words that express your world view?
Regular attendance at religious services is associated with a more optimistic outlook and a lesser inclination to be depressed, compared to those who do not attend services at all, according to a recently published study.
The study's findings supports previous research that religious participation can promote psychological and physical health -- and reduce mortality risks -- possibly by calming people in stressful times, creating meaningful social interactions and helping curtail bad habits.
from Good, Bad, and Ugly:
Mitt Romney's French education
The small church in the Bordeaux suburb of Talence looks the same today as it did in the late 1960s, when Romney and fellow missionaries were photographed in front of it during a rare visit by then LDS church president, Howard Hunter.
In this article you mention that Mitt Romney was in a photograph in the late 1960's "during a rare visit by then LDS church president, Howard Hunter".
from Oddly Enough Blog:
It's been a few weeks since I've written about any new signs of that onrushing Apocalypse, so I foolishly thought things might be getting better.
Let's see here. Roman Catholic bishops in Wisconsin are urging their parishioners not to bring weapons TO CHURCH, now that a new law permits state residents to carry concealed firearms and electric weapons such as stun guns or tasers.
A majority of American Roman Catholics feel strongly about the sacraments and traditional church values such as caring for the poor, but they may not agree with the church teachings on topics such as abortion, same-sex marriage and maintaining a celibate, male clergy, a survey has found.
The "Catholics in America" survey of Roman Catholics published by the National Catholic Reporter found 86 percent said Catholics can disagree with aspects of church teaching and still remain loyal to the church.
from Photographers Blog:
By Navesh Chitrakar
Born and raised in Kathmandu's Newar community I am familiar with Lord Ganesh. His elephant head attached to a human body makes him easy to identify. Ganesh is honored at the beginning of rituals and ceremonies as we celebrate religious festivals.
This month, I had the opportunity to take pictures of Living God Ganesh after I asked one of my friends who was close to the living god's family. I was pleased and surprised that the family was willing to accept me since they don’t normally allow pictures to be taken.
from Photographers Blog:
By Dwi Oblo
I’ve known about the annual Hindu Kasada Festival for some time now.
For years, I've been planning to go but for the past two there have been conflicting events that I needed to cover so this was my first time attending the festival. As I wanted to provide extensive coverage, I decided to arrive a day before the festival started. Along with four colleagues, I headed to Mount Bromo from Yogyakarta. It took us nine hours to drive the 500 km (310 miles) route.
On the morning of August 15, the sunshine slowly warmed me as it reached 16 degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit). Coming from Yogyakarta, this was cold for me.