Pew Forum survey on American religion

A survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life of 35,000 Americans found that 44% of them have changed affiliations between "major faith traditions," such as from Baptist to Methodist. 28% have switched between traditions.Protestants make up a bare majority of Americans--51.3%.16% classify themselves as not affiliated with any faith (despite only 7% being brought up that way), and 4% as atheist or agnostic.Mormons account for 1.7% of the population, Muslims 0.6%, and Hindus 0.4%.Those … [Read more...]

Reeves, Louisiana ditches 666 prefix

After complaints from religious villagers for forty years, Reeves, Louisiana's telephone prefix has been changed from 666 to 749. I added a smartass comment on the story that "In other news, Satan has announced that the Antichrist is now going by the number 749," but a much better response comes from Daniel Rutter on the SKEPTIC list, who points out that the new prefix suffers from a very similar numerological difficulty, which you may see for yourself by multiplying 74 by 9. Doh!Concerns … [Read more...]

Pope forming exorcist squads to wage war on Satan

I thought for a moment I was reading The Onion, but this story is from what at least sometimes purports to be a real newspaper, the UK's Daily Mail:The Pope has ordered his bishops to set up exorcism squads to tackle the rise of Satanism.Vatican chiefs are concerned at what they see as an increased interest in the occult.They have introduced courses for priests to combat what they call the most extreme form of "Godlessness."Each bishop is to be told to have in his diocese a number of priests … [Read more...]

Celebrity atheists gallery

Australia's Daily Telegraph ran a story "Christ-miss for atheist celebs" on Christmas eve which features a gallery of celebrities who are atheists (but not celebrities because of their atheism), such as Keanu Reaves, Angelina Jolie, Rachel Griffiths, Richard Branson, Bob Geldof, Bill Gates, Katherine Hepburn, Jodie Foster, Marlon Brando, Ricky Gervais, John Malkovich, and Bjork. Has anyone ever seen a story like that in a U.S. newspaper, that acknowledges that someone of prominence is an … [Read more...]

The Economist on Mormons, the Bible vs. the Koran, and New Age

The year-end issue of The Economist has three articles of interest regarding religion. One article, "The battle of the books," describes how Christianity and Islam are competing to distribute their holy books and convert followers, and how their respective demographics have changed dramatically since 1900. In 1900, Islam had about 200 million followers concentrated in the Arab world and southeast Asia, while today it has 1.5 billion followers around the globe. 80% of Christianity's followers … [Read more...]

Antony Flew’s new book

Philosopher Antony Flew has a new book out titled There Is A God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.But what's interesting is that he didn't write it--Christian apologist Roy Abraham Varghese did.Today's New York Times has the fascinating and disturbing story about how some evangelical Christians have exploited an aging man's loss of memory and critical thinking capacity to make him the basis of a fallacious argument from authority in support of their views.UPDATE (November … [Read more...]

Scientology offering “Hubbard study tech” to low-income Christian churches

CNN reports that the Church of Scientology is partnering with Christian churches in low-income areas to offer free tutoring (and indoctrination in L. Ron Hubbard's "study technology"). This is actually not a new development--Scientology has long partnered with a number of pastors of Baptist churches to promote its "Applied Scholastics" program, such as Rev. Alfreddie Johnson and the Rev. Fred Shaw. … [Read more...]

Pentecostal rave party

(Hat tip to Ed Babinski, who found this at the Wittenburg Blog. The music is titled "Det snurrar i min skalle" and is from a Swedish group called Familjen--they've got several other songs on YouTube.)I found an apposite quote about this in an Economist article published last year titled "Christianity reborn":"A Pentecostal service is an unforgettable experience, part religious service, part spectacle, part rock 'n' roll rave. ... Harvey Cox, a professor at Harvard, points to two things that … [Read more...]


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