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Old 03-09-2009, 11:56 AM  
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More Americans say they have no religion

More Americans say they have no religion

By RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion Writer

A wide-ranging study on American religious life found that the Roman Catholic population has been shifting out o of the Northeast to the Southwest, the percentage of Christians in the nation has declined and more people say they have no religion at all.

Fifteen percent of respondents said they had no religion, an increase from 14.2 percent in 2001 and 8.2 percent in 1990, according to the American Religious Identification Survey.

Northern New England surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the least religious region, with Vermont reporting the highest share of those claiming no religion, at 34 percent. Still, the study found that the numbers of Americans with no religion rose in every state.

"No other religious bloc has kept such a pace in every state," the study's authors said.

In the Northeast, self-identified Catholics made up 36 percent of adults last year, down from 43 percent in 1990. At the same time, however, Catholics grew to about one-third of the adult population in California and Texas, and one-quarter of Floridians, largely due to Latino immigration, according to the research.

Nationally, Catholics remain the largest religious group, with 57 million people saying they belong to the church. The tradition gained 11 million followers since 1990, but its share of the population fell by about a percentage point to 25 percent.

Christians who aren't Catholic also are a declining segment of the country.

In 2008, Christians comprised 76 percent of U.S. adults, compared to about 77 percent in 2001 and about 86 percent in 1990. Researchers said the dwindling ranks of mainline Protestants, including Methodists, Lutherans and Episcopalians, largely explains the shift. Over the last seven years, mainline Protestants dropped from just over 17 percent to 12.9 percent of the population.

The report from The Program on Public Values at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., surveyed 54,461 adults in English or Spanish from February through November of last year. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 0.5 percentage points. The findings are part of a series of studies on American religion by the program that will later look more closely at reasons behind the trends.

The current survey, being released Monday, found traditional organized religion playing less of a role in many lives. Thirty percent of married couples did not have a religious wedding ceremony and 27 percent of respondents said they did not want a religious funeral.

About 12 percent of Americans believe in a higher power but not the personal God at the core of monotheistic faiths. And, since 1990, a slightly greater share of respondents 1.2 percent said they were part of new religious movements, including Scientology, Wicca and Santeria.

The study also found signs of a growing influence of churches that either don't belong to a denomination or play down their membership in a religious group.

Respondents who called themselves "non-denominational Christian" grew from 0.1 percent in 1990 to 3.5 percent last year. Congregations that most often use the term are megachurches considered "seeker sensitive." They use rock style music and less structured prayer to attract people who don't usually attend church. Researchers also found a small increase in those who prefer being called evangelical or born-again, rather than claim membership in a denomination.

Evangelical or born-again Americans make up 34 percent of all American adults and 45 percent of all Christians and Catholics, the study found. Researchers found that 18 percent of Catholics consider themselves born-again or evangelical, and nearly 39 percent of mainline Protestants prefer those labels. Many mainline Protestant groups are riven by conflict over how they should interpret what the Bible says about gay relationships, salvation and other issues.

The percentage of Pentecostals remained mostly steady since 1990 at 3.5 percent, a surprising finding considering the dramatic spread of the tradition worldwide. Pentecostals are known for a spirited form of Christianity that includes speaking in tongues and a belief in modern-day miracles.

Mormon numbers also held steady over the period at 1.4 percent of the population, while the number of Jews who described themselves as religiously observant continued to drop, from 1.8 percent in 1990 to 1.2 percent, or 2.7 million people, last year. Researchers plan a broader survey on people who consider themselves culturally Jewish but aren't religious.

The study found that the percentage of Americans who identified themselves as Muslim grew to 0.6 percent of the population, while growth in Eastern religions such as Buddhism slightly slowed.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090309/...9yZWFtZXJpY2Fu
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Old 03-11-2009, 09:17 AM   #61
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Originally Posted by patteeu View Post
One of the reasons Catholics are gaining followers, besides Jenson's major reason, is because I converted two people even though I'm not a believer myself! I think that's enough to get me into heaven if there is one, don't you?

Seriously, I think religions with clear rules make for a harder faith than loosey-goosey, believe-what-makes-you-feel-good religions.
Yeah, rigid right wing ideology values control and conformity, versus life and society that results from good people making good choices in a context of free will. They are just like the far left, in that respect.
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Old 03-11-2009, 09:24 AM   #62
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Originally Posted by Jilly View Post
Oh and Dan, perhaps you need to lay off the white zin....you might read words better that way!!
Who's Dan?
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Old 03-11-2009, 09:26 AM   #63
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Originally Posted by DaKCMan AP View Post
Who's Dan?
that's my name for you....I don't care what your name is, that's what I call you in my head.
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Old 03-11-2009, 09:27 AM   #64
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Originally Posted by BWillie007 View Post
To be honest with you, even as narrow minded as some of those people can be, they seem to be the happiest people I've ever met.
Ignorance is bliss.
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Old 03-11-2009, 09:28 AM   #65
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Originally Posted by Jilly View Post
that's my name for you....I don't care what your name is, that's what I call you in my head.
..and all this time I thought you called me Mr. Awesome.
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Old 03-11-2009, 09:29 AM   #66
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Originally Posted by DaKCMan AP View Post
Ignorance is bliss.
It isn't always ignorance (sometimes, yes), but I think it's because they've found meaning for their lives. It may not make sense to you or to me, but it does to them and causes them joy. There's tons of stuff in the world that provide meaning for humans, some of it is religion and some of it is just sheer passion....what drives your heart and makes you wake up in the morning....whatever that is brings great joy as long as it's something you are living.
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Old 03-11-2009, 09:37 AM   #67
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..and all this time I thought you called me Mr. Awesome.
I dropped that name, oh, um, when I saw you drinking a glass of White Zin....you dropped to Mr. OK at that point....I had you pegged for a nice pinot type of guy, you know, the high dollar stuff...and then, well....you settled.
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Old 03-11-2009, 10:00 AM   #68
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Originally Posted by Mr. Kotter View Post
Yeah, rigid right wing ideology values control and conformity, versus life and society that results from good people making good choices in a context of free will. They are just like the far left, in that respect.
I don't know what you're saying here. I assume that this has something to do with what I posted, but I can't figure out just what that is.
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Old 03-11-2009, 10:04 AM   #69
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I don't know what you're saying here. I assume that this has something to do with what I posted, but I can't figure out just what that is.
I'm not surprised. You really ought to up your meds, patty.
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Old 03-11-2009, 10:11 AM   #70
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I totally disagree with that. Clear rules give you nothing to think about, there's no ambiguity and no gray area, it leaves no room for you to truly explore faith and the essence of it without attacking some major belief - for instance, the Trinity and Catholicism. You can't ever wrestle with that major belief because the Catholic Church says it is true, therefore it is. Where's the room for questions? Questions, imo, is what makes things hard, not the rules. When there are questions, you might have to face something completely different then what the "church" believes. For instance - atonement theology, that Jesus was sent as a sacrificial lamb....what if I don't believe that and if I don't, what do I do with the cross? With the resurrection? It'd be much easier for me just to take the dogma of the church, run with it, know exactly how to live my life, then to face these questions and possibly have to question a belief that has been put in place for thousands of years.
Hmmm. I think there are a lot of people in rigid religions who have these same types of questions. The reason I think non-rigid religions are easier is because they let the follower come up with a wider variety of answers and still feel like they're worshiping the true God whereas a follower of a more rigid religion has to find a way to reconcile the church's teachings with their doubts. If the doubts win, they drop out. It's a little like the difference between being graded on a curve in college or being subject to a rigid grading scale.
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Old 03-11-2009, 10:13 AM   #71
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I'm not surprised. You really ought to up your meds, patty.
OK, I'll give it a try.
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Old 03-11-2009, 10:14 AM   #72
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Hmmm. I think there are a lot of people in rigid religions who have these same types of questions. The reason I think non-rigid religions are easier is because they let the follower come up with a wider variety of answers and still feel like they're worshiping the true God whereas a follower of a more rigid religion has to find a way to reconcile the church's teachings with their doubts. If the doubts win, they drop out. It's a little like the difference between being graded on a curve in college or being subject to a rigid grading scale.
But it takes courage to stay with the doubts and not drop out, this is why I think it's harder to have that kind of faith. But I totally see what you're saying the other way. I just don't want to confuse having doubts and questions with being wishy washy. I just think it's a lot harder to have the doubts and questions and come out with a strong faith in the end.
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Old 03-11-2009, 10:43 AM   #73
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But it takes courage to stay with the doubts and not drop out, this is why I think it's harder to have that kind of faith. But I totally see what you're saying the other way. I just don't want to confuse having doubts and questions with being wishy washy. I just think it's a lot harder to have the doubts and questions and come out with a strong faith in the end.
When one recognizes that religion is rooted in scriptures and teachings of man, that however inspired and however well-intentioned....are always and most importantly still written and translated and interpreted by fallible human beings, subject to all of the norms of human nature....only then do many folks begin to reconcile their doubts and questions. It took me until I was 35-40....and it's made all the difference in the world.
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Old 03-11-2009, 11:01 AM   #74
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Everybody has a religion. After all a religion is simply a system of beliefs super natural or otherwise.
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Old 03-11-2009, 11:14 AM   #75
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Originally Posted by BWillie007 View Post
Most of the time I wish I did have faith and believed in god 100%. To be honest with you, even as narrow minded as some of those people can be, they seem to be the happiest people I've ever met.

But I'm a logical thinker, it's impossible for me to believe most of what is written in the bible. Realistically, I cannot tell you whether there is a god or not. I don't know why people cannot simply sit back and say to themselves, "I don't know". There is much in life that we do not know. I think more people should leave it at that.
There is much in life that we do not know. But what a complete disservice we are doing to ourselves as a whole if we stop exploring what we think is unknowable and seemingly beyond our capacity for understanding.
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