Why America Is and Isn’t Unusually Religious

Tobin Grant, associate professor of political science at Southern Illinois University, recently wrote an article for Christianity Today about the unique nature of American religiosity.  In that piece, he noted that the United States continues to be quite religious while most other developed countries have become increasingly secular.  Upon deeper review, ongoing American religiosity is not an aberration but a logical outcome resulting from our unusually high level of economic inequality.  The Read More …

Volunteering in America

Last week a federal report was released providing a wealth of information about volunteerism in America.  The report is based on data "collected through a supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS) September Volunteer Supplement. The CPS is a monthly survey of about 60,000 households (approximately 100,000 adults), conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics." The executive summary of the 2010 data contains the following: In 2010, the national volunteer Read More …

High Levels of Education and Religion

The claim that as levels of education increase levels of religious belief and practice decrease is stated so often that many simply assume it is true.  Earlier this year, I shared Barry A. Kosmin's (Trinity College) work that provides substantive data suggesting the relationship between religion and education is far more complex than this generalization.  In fact, in some areas those with post-graduate degrees have higher rates of belief or practice than those with less education, Read More …

A New Trend: Long-Lasting Marriages

The first few sentences of Carol Morello's recent Washington Post article explain a significant trend: Americans may be postponing marriage, and fewer are wedding at all. But what about the people who do get married? They’re staying together longer than they have in years. Three in four couples who married after 1990 celebrated a 10-year anniversary, according to census statistics reported Wednesday. That was a rise of three percentage points compared with couples who married in the early Read More …

What Makes A Vital Congregation?

The Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell has served as senior pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, TX since 1982.  During that time the church has grown from around twenty-five active members to over 18,000.  Recently, the Rev. Caldwell was asked, by the United Methodist News Service, "What makes Windsor Village a vital congregation?"  He answered: When I came in 1982, I shared with the administrative council then that we were going to do three things, and we’re still trying to do Read More …

Statistical Surprises: Marriage and Divorce

The Daily Number is provided by the Pew Research Center that "highlights an important finding or trend."  A few days ago, the number looked at the unusually high rates of both marriage and divorce in the United States.  When compared to the European Union, Americans are far more likely to experience marriage (51% higher) or divorce (76% higher).  Interestingly, however, American divorce rates in the sample year (33% of the measured events) were similar to those in the EU (30%). So Read More …

A Shift in Theological Education

In the last two weeks two United Church of Christ (UCC) related seminaries have announced plans to launch or expand hybrid or online educational offerings. Andover Newton Theological Seminary will partner with The Alban Institute to offer "courses in church leadership and vitality . . . using Andover Newton’s online learning system and Alban’s authors as instructors."  These four week offerings are designed primarily as continuing education for clergy. Eden Theological Seminary will add Read More …