Recent Reading: Politics & Bible

Politics are everywhere; I have yet to spend more than a few seconds scanning my social media feeds before encountering a political remark. Political experts are everywhere; 99% of the political remarks I read and hear are communicated as though the communicator is a subject matter expert.  In reality, of course, most are simply people who have strong feelings about their particular perspectives. Political writing is particularly popular.  As a non-expert, I have read three books this year Read More …

Mainline: Lacking Racial Diversity

Race related topics have been featured in the news more in recent months than any time I can recall.  Mainline Protestants generally tend to have healthy perspectives on race.  Such philosophical and even theological understandings do not necessarily translate into action (for example: read my summary and reflection of Bradley Wright's recent research showing that Mainline Protestant congregations had the highest rate of discrimination to prospective visitors) nor do they lead to racially Read More …

Education Level & Declining Church Attendance

As I read W. Bradford Wilcox's recent Acts of Faith article in the Washington Post I found myself drawn to a graph illustrating a decline in church attendance.  While the decline in American church attendance in America since the mid-1970s is well documented and much discussed by lay religious folks and scholars alike, few have given any real consideration to how the rate of decline differs based on education. A few years ago I shared W. Bradford Wilcox's finding that "since the 1970s, white Read More …

Religion & Self-Identity

Barna recently conducted research into what most influences the self-identity of Americans.  In order, the top three influences are family, country (being American), and religious faith. Religion Matters While religion still ranks ahead of ethnic group, career, state of residence, and city/town of residence, it is a distant third to family and country. While a majority of Americans claim that family and their country are central to their identity, fewer than two out of five Read More …

Striking Religious Findings from 2014

Pew Research Center continues to be a leader in providing research and commentary on matters of faith that matter.  During 2014 they published  150+ reports and  600+ blog posts considering what is happening in the USA and the world.  At the close of the year they reviewed this massive body of work and created a list of 14 facts they "found particularly striking, as they illustrate some major shifts in our politics, society, habits or families."  The list includes two religious items: Over Read More …

Faith = Longer Life

In the latest edition of the Journal of General Practice, Richard Scott notes the correlation between religious faith and longer life expectancy: "religious faith remains by far the best predictor of a long and healthy life." So What? As someone who resides in a seasonal resort community that welcomes numerous snowbirds each winter, I am well aware of just how much life expectancy (and realized years of life) really matter.  I am also thankful to live in Collier County, which has been Read More …

College Education = More Religious?

I can't tell you how many times I have heard that young adults often go off to college and lose their religion.  Of course those offering such laments are often two (or more) generations older than today's college students.  I suspect that most who advance the argument base it on an absence of 20- and 30-somethings in the pews on Sunday mornings and because they have heard others assert it with such regularity that they assume it simply must be true. A few years ago I shared what was then the Read More …

Check Your Privilege

I rarely click through when I see friends sharing their score to the latest quiz, but I did a few days ago after seeing a number of posts on my Facebook feed declaring just how privileged people were based on their response to a rather lengthy checklist.  As I took the assessment, I realized my score would be high. I was, however, surprised by just how high it was, and that this placed me in the "you're the most privileged category." So What? I invite you to take the quiz, and to reflect Read More …

Is Christianity Bad for Entrepreneurship?

A new study by economists Travis Wiseman (Mississippi State University) and Andrew Young (West Virginia University), found that the "measure of total Christian adherents is robustly and positively correlated with states’ unproductive entrepreneurship scores.” Put more simply: the more Christians in a given state the more likely that state is less successful in entrepreneurial endeavors.  Additionally, the study found that atheism and agnosticism positively impact Read More …

Religion Is Losing Influence

According to the latest Gallup survey, "Over three-quarters of Americans (77%) say religion is losing its influence on American life, while 20% say religion's influence is increasing."  While the overall view tends toward pessimism, this year's results are the most pessimistic about the influence of religion since 1970. So What? At a time when the vast majority agree that religion is declining, an almost equal number (75%) believe that it would be positive for our nation if more Americans Read More …