Saying grace

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About half of Americans say grace before meals, according to a new study.  Even 11% of those who don’t believe in religion a
say some sort of grace.  (For regional, ethnic, political, age, and denominational breakdowns, read after the jump.)

Religion journalist Sarah Pulliam Bailey writes about the phenomenon, interviewing a number of different people about why they pray.  An atheist, for example, says that he feels that it is important to express some kind of gratitude.  (But to whom?)

She also cites the Lutheran table prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus. . . .” [Read more…]

Education and religion

graduation-1177256_640Does having more education mean being less religious?  That has been the conventional wisdom in academic circles.  But a new Pew Research study has found that the relationship between education and religion is much more complicated than that.

In general, according to the report, highly educated people are less religious.  But this effect does not hold true for Christians.

Highly educated Christians are actually more likely to go to church regularly than less educated Christians.

Read the findings after the jump.  How do you account for them?

[Read more…]

Are atheists dying out?

PERSONAL_SECULARISM_LOGOAn article in Evolutionary Psychological Science looks at the “secularization hypothesis,” the assumption that modernity would be accompanied with the gradual dying out of religion.  That is proving not to be the case, with many researchers trying to figure out why.

The authors of this study sought a biological reason.  They found a strong correlation between “religiosity” and family size.  Conversely, they found a very strong correlation between the degree of “secularism” and small family size.  That is to say, atheists tend to have very few children.

The researchers conclude that secularists are dwindling demographically.

In the words of the article abstract (given after the jump), “A contra-secularization hypothesis is proposed and defended in the discussion. It states that secularism is likely to undergo a decline throughout the remainder of the twenty-first century, including Europe and other industrial societies.”

[Read more…]

Will Islam become the world’s largest religion?

religion-882281_640A new study says that Islam will pass Christianity as the world’s largest religion by 2070.

The report says that in 2050, Muslims will make up 10% of the European population.  But they will number only 2.1% in the United States.

Interestingly, the study also says that the number of atheists and non-religious affiliated will decline globally.

This may very well be, but, like many statistical studies, it is mainly just an extrapolation of current numbers over time.  Muslims have a higher birth rate than Christians do, so if we graph that out, their numbers will be higher by 2070.

Other scenarios are not factored in.  For example, what if some of the 10% of the European population that has an Islamic heritage convert to Christianity, now that they can be exposed to it?  That may depend on Christianity reviving in Europe, but that is not outside the possibility of the grace of God.  Or what if the brutality of ISIS and the Islamic terrorism that is rampant in the Middle East creates a reaction against the religion?  Or what if the Westernization of Islamic countries creates a decline in the birth rate?  Or what if the Christian birth rate shoots up?

Lots of things can happen, there being many more variables and unpredictabilities in life than a single statistical trend.

[Read more…]

Why is Cedar Rapids so Godless?

Cedar_Rapids_skylineIowa defines the American heartland, with its staunch Midwestern values and rural American virtues.  Though its prairie populism sometimes elects Democrats, today its elected officials are most Republican.  The candidate favored by Christian conservatives usually wins the Iowa caucuses.

A recent study ranked Iowa as the 19th most religious state in the union.  Except for one mysterious outlier:  Cedar Rapids.

The second largest city in the state, with a population of only 130,000, is an island of secularism in an ocean of religion.  By virtually ever standard–Bible reading, Bible believing, church attendance–Cedar Rapids scores closer to the big coastal cities than any of its midwestern neighbors.  Nearly half (47%) of its adults are “nones,” holding to no particular religion at all.  That’s the same percentage as Los Angeles county.

So why is this?  People are trying to figure that out.  One perhaps counter-intuitive reason:  Cedar Rapids is overwhelmingly white.  So are the vast majority of “nones.” Black people, in contrast, score extremely high on the religious indexes (Bible reading, Bible believing, church attendance).  A large black population tends to increase a city’s religion score, while a large white population decreases it.  At least that’s what the post says, quoted and linked after the jump, which also lists other possible factors.

Still, the mystery remains.  Iowans, can any of you explain? [Read more…]

India, Africa, Indonesia, and other Lutheran enclaves

Most people associate Lutheranism with Germany, Scandinavia, and the United States.  Germany indeed is number one (11,787,811), but number two is Ethiopia (7,886,595) and number three is Tanzania (6,531,336).  Indonesia is fifth (6,046,321) and India is seven (4,042,543).

There are nine countries with more Lutherans than the United States (3,765,362).  Followed by more African countries and Papua New Guinea.

See the list after the jump.  The link discusses other significant Lutheran populations in other parts of the world, such as Australia and Brazil. [Read more…]