American Spirituality: Fact and Fiction

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by path_of_one, Sep 21, 2008.

  1. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    I was reading the stats from the recent PEW foundation report on religion in the United States, and it really struck me how different common views of religious Americans are from the reality. I have ideas about why this is- mostly centered on corporate-owned media driving conflict and stereotypes in order to keep us divided... but I thought it might be interesting to just open some of the stats up for discussion.

    Here's a few interesting ones to me:

    About 70% of Americans do not believe their religion is the only way to salvation, and the same number also believe that there is more than one true way to interpret their religion's teachings.

    Yet, to more than 50% of Americans, their religion is very important, they attend services regularly, and pray daily. 75% pray at least once a week and 40% meditate at least once a week.

    Most want their religion to preserve traditional beliefs and practices, yet they do not believe their religion is the only valid way to salvation.

    A staggering 92% of Americans believe in God, though some are not as certain about it as others. Oddly, 21% of atheists and 55% of agnostics believe in God. Go figure. LOL

    While 78% think there are absolute standards of right and wrong, most rely on their own practical experience and common sense to tell them what those are (52%). Only 29% rely on religious beliefs.

    Finally, while 59% are very satisfied with their personal lives, less than a third (and this was across religious lines) are satisfied with the state of the country and the political system.

    So...

    It's a different picture of America than the media often gives us, yes? Less conflict and more tolerance than is usually reported. And yet more religiosity than is usually reported.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    What's the media saying about this report? :p
     
  3. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Did the report give the number that identified as atheists (I did not see it in your summary). Maybe it's just where I hang out :)D), but it seems like the outcry from atheists in the USA has been growing, fueled by the string of popular books by atheists out in the past few years.
     
  4. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti Well-Known Member

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    I think the conflict/tolerance issues are largely overhyped by conservative factions who are actively engaged in political pandering to certain Christian groups that comprise a voting demographic.

    I don't recall the issues being salient under a democratic regime in recent history.....but maybe I wasn't paying attention.
     
  5. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    With 92% believers that would make less than 8% Athiests, but that is confounded by the stat that 21% of Atheists believe in G!d, go figure.

    As to the believing there are other ways to salvation, yet attend services regularly, pray and meditate weekly...that would include me. ie I am very devoted to my religion, yet can easily accept that others have a different path.
     
  6. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    I think it's where we hang out, combined with the media.

    There are 1.6% atheists in this country according to the report. And 2.4% agnostics. There are 78.4% Christians. I think the hype about atheism as a threat is unfounded. So they publish books. It's not like anyone is forced to read them. ;)
     
  7. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    If a basic theology test were employed that 78.4% Christian would probably sustain a precipitous drop. I checked out the PEW data at their website. Interestingly, Hinduism and Judaism have the highest rates of post-graduates and wealthy members.

    Chris
     
  8. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    So glad I do not live there.
     
  9. Snoopy

    Snoopy Well-Known Member

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    What, to an American, is so eye-opening in this? (answering as a non-American).

    For example you say

    Why would an American find this staggering? Is the place full of wiccans yet???!!!:eek:

    s.
     
  10. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Why are you surprised. While it is a constant joke about Jews and money truth is as I see it the parents instill in their children from an early age that education, entrepreneurship and financial savvy are keys to life. They raise kids to go onto school, to become professionals (doctors, lawyers, accoutants etc.) to own thier own businesses to be responsible for their future. Quite valuable training and well worth it in my book.

    As for Hindus, almost all immigrants I have met in this country are Brahman, top caste, wealth and business people stock coming over here to do more of the same, provide a service and collect the money in the middle...and they are doing quite well at it.
    I don't beleive there exists a basic theology test to be Christian...or are you referring to the beliefnet type test that asks which religion your beliefs most align with?
     
  11. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    I think it demonstrates that in the US, so-called religious strife is actually political strife. Do you think this survey will help open peoples' eyes to this?
     
  12. sonoman

    sonoman Interfaith Forums

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    There you have it. When you research and discover that Judaism developed from Brahminism, you won't be surprised at the figures for Jews and Hindus doing well in America. Oops? Did I say a no-no?
     
  13. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    POW!!!

    Chris
     
  14. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    What I mean is: I know a lot of people who would label themselves Christian, but follow no specific theology, don't go to church, and have not once cracked the Bible. I'm not saying they're not Christian, just that a significant portion of that 78 percent are essentially only "ethnically" Christian. Christianity, in that sense, is really not much more than a component of nationalism.

    I only meant that the Hindu and Jewish demographic numbers were interesting, not that they might be indicative of anything conspiratorial-like. Historically black denominations, by comparison, have the worst educational and economic numbers, as one might expect.

    Chris
     
  15. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    Exactly.

    Path/Kim

    Because in our media and particularly among right-wing evangelical churches, there is a myth that is consistently perpetuated that atheism and secularism is gaining significant ground. This stirs up a political mess that is founded on (obviously) nothing. There are actually very few atheists, and so-called "secular" folks largely considered themselves theists and as religious but without affiliation. So all that media is just stirring up unnecessary conflict. It's a myth and hype perpetuated by the religious right to get people to feel defensive and afraid, with practically no grounding in reality.

    And all the Wiccans I've known are theistic... ;)
     
  16. ChristineES

    ChristineES Follower of Yeshua

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    Here in Southern California, religion is quite diverse-- and that includes Wiccans and Pagans. And a lot of those people who say they believe in God don't attend church except on Easter and Christmas and they aren't even all Christians. We have a lot of people who don't even speak English. I have heard Russian, Arabic, German,Hindi (and whatever else they speak in India) and mostly Spanish. People surrounded by that kind of diversity it is hard to be too narrow. :)
     
  17. Snoopy

    Snoopy Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the insight, Kim.

    s.
     
  18. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    Actually, Kim, there are a few militant atheists up here in this area. Some are political, like those who tried to outlaw "The Giving Tree" a few years ago. Others are intolerant secularists who will strive to outlaw and/or vandalize holiday displays/expression on public property. These ones will often try to justify their actions in the name of 'political correctness.' Others are just plain hateful, who will try to block church-sponsored religious celebrations, or just vandalize nativity scenes at churches. :(

    On the bright side, both the political conservatives and the liberals in the area will unite together to argue against them. People of different faiths will join together in support of those being targetted, 'political correctness' be damned. :)
     
  19. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    How dare they! Im sure you can provide the prosecution details of these "militant atheists"? This renegade bunch must be hunted down and crucified!!



    tao
     
  20. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    I would like to see the vandals brought to justice. (Vandalism is against the law.) The ones who try to outlaw religious expression can be countered with the Constitution. :)
     

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