Survey: U.S. Church Attendance Sinks to Record Low, but Prayer Is Still Resilient in the Age of the Nones

A survey research analyst who writes for the Washington Post asserts that, in America, religion is on the ropes. More precisely, Scott Clement says that

American religion is on the ropes, but it has a prayer.

A major poll whose results were released this past week, the 2014 General Social Survey, reveals that U.S. church attendance continues to fall.

A record-low share of Americans attend church regularly, affiliate with a religious faith and see themselves as religious. … The findings … mark a continuation of a decades-long departure from the pews along with a growing share who profess loyalty to no religion at all.

But reason isn’t truly taking over; prayer is going as strong as it was three decades ago.

Fully 57 percent of respondents said they pray at least once a day, little different from 54 percent in 1983, when the question was first asked on the survey. Three-quarters of respondents said they pray at least once a week, while 1 in 4 pray less often or never.

The poll has a margin of sampling error of 2.5 percentage points.



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French to Crack Down on Hate Speech, Including the Anti-Religious Kind, “In Much the Same Way [As] Pedophilia”

Recently, French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira announced that she wants the power to quash speech as she and her government see fit, stripping judicial niceties from the process of shutting people up, says Paris-based news outlet France24.

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira has said she will push for legal reforms that would help French authorities crack down on racism and anti-Semitism online in much the same way they do with pedophilia. The proposals include empowering French authorities to shut down websites hosting content that is deemed illicit without prior court approval.

“Crimes recognized in public spaces must also be recognized as such on the Internet,” Taubira [said], echoing other recent statements on combating terrorism. “Our challenge is to find the most appropriate responses, but we are determined to wage an unmerciful battle against racism and anti-Semitism on the Internet.”

Almost no one likes hate speech, but neither should the government of a modern, secular state be in the business of defining and targeting it… unless and until it rises to the level of incitement. It’s fairly easy to get people to agree (as do I) that racist and anti-Semitic invective should not be tolerated. For me, that means that sanctions should be social, from verbal pushback to full-throated rebuttals to ostracism.

Intemperate words and pictures are rarely, I think, a matter for the police or the courts.

Taubira’s well-intentioned but dangerous proposal has every likelihood of defining public discourse down to the comfort level of the most thin-skinned and vocal members of society. And I predict that this will please and benefit no group quite as much as French Muslims who believe that the Charlie Hebdo victims had it coming. The hate-speech crackdown will feel like vindication to them, and/or like a government-endorsed justification après la lettre.

Brendan O’Neill at Reason explains how illiberal France’s plan is:



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New York City Just Expanded Its Recognized Religious Holidays For Schoolkids. Here’s Why That’s Wrong

My friend Marc Randazza, a First-Amendment attorney, has a sweet piece up at CNN about officially-recognized religious holidays.

I wish the headline were different: “Why schools should observe ‘Day of the Dude’” (a reference to The Big Lebowski) is going to cause lots of people to click through to something less seemingly absurd. In fairness, absurdity is exactly the thing Marc was going for with his argument — in a good way. Follow along:

Schools in New York City have decided to observe two Muslim holidays and close schools for them. After all, for decades, kids have gotten Christian and Jewish holidays off.

But that’s the wrong approach, Marc argues:

First of all, virtually every recognized religion is practiced in New York City. Unfortunately, now only three of them have some kind of “officially acknowledged” status. Christians, Jews and Muslims have their holidays off, but what about New York’s other religions? What about my religion? March 6 has long been “The Day of the Dude,” and as a Dudeist minister, should I not demand respect for my beliefs, by insisting that the school district “take ‘er easy” on that date every year?



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FOX News Hires Alveda King, Who Is Anti-Abortion and Anti-Divorce Despite Having Obtained Several of Each Herself

A new face on FOX News:

Fox News has signed Alveda King, the niece of civil-rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., as a contributor, Fox president Roger Ailes announced [on Friday]. King will provide regular social and cultural commentary across the network lineup.

Alveda has brilliantly carried the legacy of the King family to the next generation and has been a source of inspiration for many Americans,” Ailes said in making the announcement. “Her passion and mission for social change will be a valuable contribution to our network.”

And how has Ms. King, 64, advanced the cause of human freedom?



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U.S. ISIS Fan Says He Planned to Kill Obama, and Pipe-Bomb “Buildings Full of Kafir”

Chris Cornell (not, not that one) was planning to get very busy.

An Ohio man claiming sympathy with Islamic State militants and charged with plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol said in a television interview that he would have shot President Barack Obama in the head. Christopher Cornell, 20, told Cincinnati’s FOX 19 WXIX TV that if he had not been arrested by FBI agents in January, he would have carried out an alleged plot to plant pipe bombs on the Capitol and at the Israeli Embassy.

In mid-January, FBI agents arrested him at a local gun shop after Cornell bought two AR-15 rifles and 600 rounds of ammo. The FBI knew what Cornell was up to after he talked to an undercover agent about his murderous intentions. Initially, news reports only said that he had planned to bomb the U.S. Capitol.

In the TV interview, conducted over the phone, Cornell got a lot more explicit about his intentions.



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