RNS News Briefs
Gallup reports new low in
By BRUCE NOLAN
c. 2012 Religion News Service
(RNS) Americans’ confidence in organized religion, slowly but
steadily declining since the 1970s, slipped to a new low in the latest
survey, the Gallup Organization reported.
Today only 44 per cent of Americans have “a great deal” or “quite
a lot” of confidence in “the church or organized religion,” Gallup
said. It was 68 per cent in the mid-1970s.
Pollsters did not name any church or religion in particular, letting
respondents define that as they wished, the organization said.
Most Protestants, 56 per cent, expressed confidence in the church, but
only a minority, or 46 per cent, of Catholics did.
But Lydia Saad, Gallup senior editor, pointed out that the question deals
with churches and organized religion. Americans are still generally a
very religious people, although increasingly on their own terms.
In 2007 a poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public
Life found only about one in six respondents said religion was “not too” or “not
at all” important in their lives.
Only five per cent said they did not believe in God or a universal spirit.
Saad said in 1975, “the church or organized religion” was
the highest-rated of the 16 institutions Gallup asked about.
It still ranks fourth. The top three institutions Americans have most
confidence in are, in order, the military, small business and the police.
The least-trusted institution is Congress, in which only 13 per cent
of Americans voice “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of
Health maintenance organizations and banks follow right behind Congress.
The survey included 1,004 adults and was taken June 7-10, Gallup said.
(Bruce Nolan writes for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans.)
Scotland to legalize gay marriage by 2015
By TREVOR GRUNDY
c. 2012 Religion News Service
(RNS/ENInews) — Scotland has announced it will allow same-sex weddings
as early as 2015, becoming the first country in the United Kingdom to do
“We are committed to a Scotland that is fair and equal, and that is why
we intend to proceed with plans to allow same sex marriage and religious ceremonies
for civil partnerships,” said Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon,
who made the announcement on July 25.
The Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church were against the move,
but gay-friendly Christian groups said they were “relieved” by
Rev. Fiona Bennett, minister of Augustine United Reform Church (Protestant)
in Edinburgh, said, “We’re delighted. It’s been some
Sturgeon said that religious groups and individuals opposed to same-sex
marriage will not be punished for not performing them.
“The Scottish government,” she said, “will take all necessary
steps to protect churches and individuals within those churches who do not
wish to conduct same sex weddings if they do not agree with them.”
A spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Church said: “The Scottish
government is embarking on a dangerous social experiment on a massive scale.”
Rev. Rod Thomas, chair of Reform, a conservative evangelical network within
the Church of England, said, “God designed marriage to be the union
of one man and one woman, reflecting the union of Christ as bridegroom
and the Church his bride. God is not a person with whom even U.K. prime
ministers can negotiate a more congenial set of commands.”
The announcement came as British Prime Minister David Cameron hosted a
meeting of prominent gay leaders at his London home, 10 Downing Street.
“I am absolutely determined that this coalition government will follow
in that tradition by legalizing gay marriage in this Parliament,” he
Survey finds record 19 per cent of religiously unaffiliated Americans
By CATHY LYNN GROSSMAN
c. 2012 USA Today
(RNS) — Unbelief is on the uptick. People who check “None” for
their religious affiliation are now nearly one in five Americans (19 per
cent), the highest ever documented, according to the Pew Centre for the
People and the Press.
The rapid rise of Nones — including atheists, agnostics and those
who say they believe “nothing in particular” — defies
the usually glacial rate of change in spiritual identity.
Barry Kosmin, co-author of three American Religious Identification
Surveys, theorizes why None has become the “default category.” He says, “Young
people are resistant to the authority of institutional religion, older
people are turned off by the politicization of religion, and people are
simply less into theology than ever before.”
Kosmin’s surveys were the first to brand the Nones
in 1990 when they were 6 per cent of U.S. adults. By the 2008 survey, Nones
were up to 15 per cent. By 2010, another survey, the biannual General Social
Survey, bumped the number to 18 per cent.
Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic Church, the nation’s largest religious
denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, Methodists and Lutherans,
all show membership flat or inching downward, according to the 2012 Yearbook
of American & Canadian Churches.
The 19 per cent count is based on aggregated surveys of 19,377 people conducted
by the Pew Research centre throughout 2011.
How high the Nones numbers might go depends on demographics, says Mark
Chaves, professor of sociology, religion and divinity at Duke University,
an expert on the General Social Survey.
Two forces could hold Nones’ numbers down. First, they are disproportionately
young, often single, and highly educated — all groups with a low
birth rate. Second, the number of believers who immigrate to the U.S. from
particularly religious nations, such as Catholics from Mexico, fluctuates
with government policies and economic issues, Chaves says.
But the chief way the category grows is by “switchers.” A 2009
Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life look at “switching” found
more than 10 per cent of American adults became Nones after growing up
within a religious group.
Chaves says there’s another dimension to the unbelief trend worth
“Americans famously say they believe in some variation of God. Over 90
per cent do,” Chaves says. “But it used to be 99 per cent decades
ago. The change is slow, but we can see it coming.”
Cathy Lynn Grossman writes for USA Today. © 2012 Religion News Service.
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©2012 Religion News Service. All
rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced
without written permission.