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Old 03-09-2009, 11:56 AM  
DaKCMan AP DaKCMan AP is offline
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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, 11:16 AM   #76
Jenson71 Jenson71 is offline
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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.
I'm not a theologian, but I think the Church chalks up your conversions as having the Holy Spirit act through you. Very good -- if you are the means through which the Holy Spirit acts, then I would think you are on a good path.
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Old 03-11-2009, 11:25 AM   #77
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I'm not a theologian, but I think the Church chalks up your conversions as having the Holy Spirit act through you. Very good -- if you are the means through which the Holy Spirit acts, then I would think you are on a good path.
It sounds like you're calling me a tool.
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Old 03-11-2009, 11:32 AM   #78
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catholic religion is one of the hardest to get behind. It has very strict rules and some that are hard to follow to even be considered a catholic. To truely believe the bread at church becomes Jesus flesh and bood is not what I consider easy in the least.
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Old 03-11-2009, 11:34 AM   #79
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Originally Posted by Jilly View Post
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.
Jilly, Catholics are free to question. I wouldn't say it's encouraged or also that it's considered a higher virtue than obedience, but it's certainly allowed. If I told my priest that I have trouble believing that Jesus was really God, he would say something like "Well, that is a very reasonable trouble. Afterall, is it not so amazing that it must be seen as something worth pondering greatly over? Fortunately for you, two thousand years of the Holy Spirit has also helped Catholics go through similiar questions. I would encourage you to read these Saints and writers and the Catechism, and we can discuss it more." Then let's say I come back and say "Father, I do not think these answers are adequate for me." "Why not," he would say. If I could give reasonable reasons for my doubts and also show (this is key), show that I want to believe it and want to understand it, then I am in good faith. If the Catholic wants to reject it and does not want to understand it, then he has problems. Some Catholics turn their backs on the Church and outwardly reject what She says and will no longer seek to listen to the Church. But rejecting something completely is not considered open, honest questioning anymore.

But your concern is legitimate because it also wonders, how many actually do question? Do they just become little mechanical vegetables, not thinking for themselves? That may be the case for some, and though they are good, Heaven-bound people, I have always believed that God gave us a mind and wants us to use it, and not questioning is as much "Sloth" as being a lazy asshole and always using an elevator when there are stairs right next to it.
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Old 03-11-2009, 11:36 AM   #80
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Originally Posted by patteeu View Post
It sounds like you're calling me a tool.
Consider it a top of the line plasma cutter.
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Old 03-12-2009, 04:56 PM   #81
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Once the majority of humans believe some sort of higher power doesn't exist and humans themselves really control their own destiny in this life and the next, the race is doomed.

Go ahead and mock ants.....but they'll live through any nuclear exchange humans can throw at them.
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Old 03-12-2009, 05:03 PM   #82
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Once the majority of humans believe some sort of higher power doesn't exist and humans themselves really control their own destiny in this life and the next, the race is doomed.
Or, if the majority believes this life has far more significance because they reject the notion of a celestial Disneyland afterward, they'll behave more responsibly towards each other and their surroundings.

I don't see why the outcome you've suggested is any more likely than the one I suggested.

Also, I'm not sure how you reconcile the notion of "Destiny" (A future outcome that is inevitable) with the idea that people could "Control" that inevitable outcome, but whatever.

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Go ahead and mock ants.....but they'll live through any nuclear exchange humans can throw at them.
So will cockroaches. That just tells me they occupy a biological niche that is more survivable than that occupied by Homo Sapiens, combined with a vastly higher reproductive rate.
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Old 03-12-2009, 05:07 PM   #83
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Old 03-12-2009, 05:10 PM   #84
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Or, if the majority believes this life has far more significance because they reject the notion of a celestial Disneyland afterward, they'll behave more responsibly towards each other and their surroundings.
Fair enough, my premise is based on the idea humans don't use their religion as a basis to promote their own value. But every religion I've ever looked at does promote the idea that being human has it's rewards if one doesn't believe living is all about an individual.

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So will cockroaches. That just tells me they occupy a biological niche that is more survivable than that occupied by Homo Sapiens, combined with a vastly larger reproductive rate.
Ants or cockroaches can't kill off either species or their own.. I'm pretty sure humans can.
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Old 03-12-2009, 05:16 PM   #85
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Fair enough, my premise is based on the idea humans don't use their religion as a basis to promote their own value.
OK. My premise is based on the idea that many religions are all about people promoting their own value. For instance, Christianity teaches us that "God" created this planet and lots of lesser animals specifically for Human Beings, and that Human Beings are so amazingly fantastically stupendously important to "God" that this "God" actually sent part of himself on a suicide mission...just for us.

Or, for a more recent version of it..."Prosperity Faith" or whatever the moniker is.

Sounds like hubris to me, in a way that "we're just a smear of biosphere on an insignificant rock in a vast universe" never could. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.
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But every religion I've ever looked at does promote the idea that being human has it's rewards if one doesn't believe living is all about an individual.
That notion doesn't belong solely to religions, though many incorporate the idea. For that matter, repulsive as it is, Communism is based in part on that same idea, that the whole/collective is more important than the individual.

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Ants or cockroaches can't kill off either species. I'm pretty sure humans can kill their own.
And that has what to do with humanity dooming themselves due to a lack of belief in a higher power?

Sure, we can off ourselves. Does a belief or lack of belief in a higher power make that more or less likely? I think a case could be made either way. JMO.

That said, I can respect your opinion though I disagree with it.
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Old 03-12-2009, 06:08 PM   #86
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Originally Posted by Adept Havelock View Post
OK. My premise is based on the idea that many religions are all about people promoting their own value. For instance, Christianity teaches us that "God" created this planet and lots of lesser animals specifically for Human Beings, and that Human Beings are so amazingly fantastically stupendously important to "God" that this "God" actually sent part of himself on a suicide mission...just for us.

Or, for a more recent version of it..."Prosperity Faith" or whatever the moniker is.

Sounds like hubris to me, in a way that "we're just a smear of biosphere on an insignificant rock in a vast universe" never could. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

That notion doesn't belong solely to religions, though many incorporate the idea. For that matter, repulsive as it is, Communism is based in part on that same idea, that the whole/collective is more important than the individual.


And that has what to do with humanity dooming themselves due to a lack of belief in a higher power?

Sure, we can off ourselves. Does a belief or lack of belief in a higher power make that more or less likely? I doubt it. JMO.

That said, I can respect your opinion though I disagree with it.
You do realize that I consider religion a personal thing, not exactly organized.

Once humans embrace the idea that the world they live in is all they get and that's it, the race is doomed IMO. At that point it's everyone is all in for just themselves.

Maybe the current thinking that what is yours is also mine makes me cynical that a human brain can keep the race going when we've developed methods of destroying ourselves.

I do believe however that every human, when they reach the end, hope (or pray to something) their gig isn't over.

Every religion has positive aspects. If humans embraced just those I wouldn't fear for the race.
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Old 03-13-2009, 01:24 PM   #87
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So here's what I think the deal is:

1. Catholics/baptists are rising because the clear cut answers/rules make for an easier faith...which fits our fast food, easy society

2. Other Christian faiths are declining because we are failing miserably at letting people know that questions, not having answers, etc, is okay and discussion is great, and you can still have faith

3. Atheism is on the rise because it's the new "in" thing...although I would say most confuse atheism with agnosticism and in which case makes people say things like "I hate organized religion, but I'm very spiritual"

4. believing in God is hard when we look around us and fail to see what is good about the world

eh, jsut my assessment and attempt to bring us back to the subject at hand, especially now that it is in the right forum.

Oh and Dan, perhaps you need to lay off the white zin....you might read words better that way!!

it took 48 posts before someone addressed the story and not argued about where it should be posted. A classic CP moment.
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Old 03-13-2009, 02:27 PM   #88
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Sure, we can off ourselves. Does a belief or lack of belief in a higher power make that more or less likely?
Religious squabbles never lead to conflict.
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