Correlation is not causation in study of ELCA racial diversity

More evidence that scientists–especially social scientists–need to study philosophy, particularly the complicated question of what constitutes causality:  A study of ELCA congregations has found that the more racially diverse  a congregation is, the more it has declined in attendance.  The implication being that white people leave when minority races show up.  This effect is especially evident, the study says, in older congregations.

But there are lots of reasons that ELCA congregations have been declining in membership!  The study says nothing about the theological shift leftward that has caused so many members to leave.  Or, even more to the point, neighborhood demographics.  “Older congregations” originally started in big cities are nearly always in decline as assimilated immigrants and young families move to the suburbs.  These congregations do pick up some racially diverse members from the neighborhood, but since African-Americans don’t have a tradition of becoming ELCA Lutherans (though they could well be Missouri Synod Lutherans, which has a long tradition of black membership), there will be a net loss.  But to interpret this as racism is grossly inaccurate.  To use statistical terms, correlation is not causation. [Read more…]

Britain now has more “nones” than Christians

Great Britain now has more people who say they have “no religion” (48%) than say they are Christians (44%).  (Other religions such as Islam constitute 8%.)  And this happened fast.  Fifteen years ago, around 75% said they were Christians.  Five years ago, only 25% said they have “no religion.”  After the jump, a story about this from the London Spectator.

For a long time, most Brits still considered themselves Christians, while hardly ever attending services.  Staying Christian requires going to church.  Then again, when the churches themselves, as a whole, become so theologically liberal they stop teaching anything that could be recognized as Christianity, then of course Christianity will, apart from divine intervention, be extinguished.

Could such a religious shift happen in the USA?  Or is it already happening? [Read more…]

Looking for a new moral code

Barna has released a fascinating study on Americans’ moral beliefs. Eighty percent are worried about the nation’s moral condition, and yet there is little consensus about what morality is and how we can know the difference between right and wrong.

A majority believe that this knowledge is a matter of personal experience.  Three-quarters of Millennials believe “Whatever is right for your life or works best for you is the only truth you can know.” (I don’t understand how you can get from experience or “what works” to moral truth, given the difference between what “is” and what “ought to be.”  And how do you know “whatever is right for your life”?  Isn’t that the question we are trying to figure out?)  [Read more…]

We aren’t as busy as we think we are

Chaucer describes a bustling lawyer (the Sergeant of Law) like this:

Nowhere so bisy a man he ther nas                                                                                                                       And yet he semed bisier than he was

It turns out, though we all complain about how busy we are, a study of how we actually use the 24 hours in our days suggests that we may not be as busy as we think.  Or so says Laura Vanderkam, working mother of four,  in the New York Times. [Read more…]

The transgender mandates

President Obama has commanded all public schools to open their bathrooms and locker rooms to either sex in cases of children who are “transgendered.”  Children are generally too young for sex-change operations, so what we are dealing with is the extremely small number of children with “gender dysphoria,” confusion about what gender they are.

Not long ago, feminists and LGBTQ activists were insisting on the distinction between “sex” and “gender,” the former referring to biological anatomy and the latter referring to a social “construction.”  Now, though, being “transgender” (constructing a different gender identity) must be counted as actually changing one’s sex.

The President’s authority to impose a transgender mandate on all schools, on threat of losing federal funding, is a new interpretation of the Title IX non-discrimination law, construing the language forbidding  discrimination on the basis of “sex” so that it also means not discriminating on the basis of “gender,” or, rather, gender identity.

North Carolina, the target of massive indignation over its law requiring that schools and government facilities segregate their bathrooms according to natural sex rather than self-identified gender, is pushing back in a lawsuit challenging the administration’s use of  Title IX and its authority to issue transgender mandates.  Read Michael Avramovich on the issues after the jump. [Read more…]

The Anti-Culture and its Unholy Trinity

We talk about engaging or changing the culture.  Carl R. Trueman says that this is beside the point:  We have no culture.  All we have is an anti-culture.  And it is presided over by an “Unholy Trinity”:  The entertainment industry, big business, and our legal institutions. [Read more…]


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