US continues to confound Western outsiders – Australians, Kiwis, Brits, and Europeans. In response to a recent Federal Court ruling of National Day of Prayer as unconstitutional the Pew Forum quoted a 2007/2008 religious survey, showing that 58% of the US over 18 population pray on a daily basis. Equally interesting is the spread across different faiths and denominations with the lowest faith being Jewish at 26%. The ‘unaffiliated’ are still 22%. I suppose the question for that group is ‘what is meant by the activity of prayer?’ and implicitly to whom or what. Alex McCullie1 comment
Religious leaders often criticise secular societies as being anti-religious or irreligious, not showing religions enough respect and deference, often for the speaker’s religion, of course. The same speakers conveniently forget about the government funding for religious-based schools plus tax-free incentives. In fact secular societies are truly their best friends, offering equal tolerance for all religions. Last year a Pew report showed what happens when religious faith dominates the public space - religious intolerance survey around the world. I have listed the worst offenders, in alphabetical order, below followed by some well-known countries as a comparison. The Pew survey considered government restrictions and social hostilities of the dominant or state-sponsored religion over lesser religions. ‘Very high’ represents the worst 5% with ‘high’ – the next 15% of countries surveyed. I took the dominant religion figures from the World Factbook with most numbers estimated since 2000.
Do religious leaders in secular countries really want faith-dominant societies when they may represent a minority religion?
|Country||Govt Restrictions||Social Hostilities||Dominant Religion|
|Very high rating – alphabetical order|
|Afghanistan||High||Very high||Muslim (Sunni 80%)|
|Bangladesh||Moderate||Very high||Muslim (83%)|
|Brunei||Very high||Moderate||Muslim (67%)|
|Burma||Very high||High||Buddhist (89%)|
|China||Very high||Low||None (95%)|
|Egypt||Very high||High||Muslim (90%)|
|Eritrea||Very high||Low||Muslim, Christian|
|India||Low||Very high||Hindu (80%)|
|Indonesia||High||Very high||Muslim (86%)|
|Iran||Very high||High||Muslim (98%)|
|Iraq||High||Very high||Mulsim (97%)|
|Israel||High||Very high||Jewish (76%)|
|Malaysia||Very high||Low||Muslim (60%), Buddhist (19%)|
|Maldives||Very high||Moderate||Muslim (Sunni)|
|Pakistan||High||Very high||Muslim (95%)|
|Saudi Arabia||Very high||Very high||Muslim (100%)|
|Somalia||High||Very high||Muslim (Sunni)|
|Sri Lanka||Moderate||Very high||Buddhist (69%), Muslim (7.6%)|
|Sudan||High||Very high||Muslim (70%)|
|Uzbekistan||Very high||Moderate||Muslim (88%)|
|US||Low||Moderate||Protestant (51%), Catholic (24%)|
|Russia||High||High||Orthodox (20%), Muslim (15%)|
|Australia||Low||Moderate||Catholic (26%), Anglican (19%), None (19%)|
|UK||Low||Moderate||Christian (72%), None (23%)|
|Canada||Low||Low||Catholic (43%), Protestant (23%), None (16%)|
|New Zealand||Low||Low||Anglican (15%), Catholic (12%), None (26%)|
According to the national survey of religious belief from Pew Forum 33% of people in the US believe that their respective scriptures are the literal word of God. The highest believing group is the ‘Historically Black Churches’ at 62%. Some of the lowest groups are Hindus, Buddists and Jews. Christian groups dominate the literalists.
(Pew breakdown here.)
Alex McCullieNo comments
A new Pew report of religious beliefs in the US again shows that many religious people believe eternal life is available to other faiths and even non-faiths. 56% of surveyed believed that people with no religious faith may still have eternal life after death and that even applies to atheists (42% – presumably kicking and screaming) with white catholics giving atheists the most hope.
So how does one get eternal life? Again, according to the survey it’s by ‘Believing in Jesus’ just ahead of ‘Being a good person’. (full report from Pew Forum)
Here’s one extract that’s interesting…
Mainline Protestants who attend religious services at least once a week are also somewhat more likely than their less-observant counterparts to describe theirs as the one, true faith, though large majorities of both groups say many religions can lead to eternal life (75% and 85%, respectively). The religious attendance gap is virtually nonexistent among white Catholics; more than eight-in-ten weekly churchgoers and less-observant Catholics alike say many religions can lead to eternal life (85% and 84%, respectively).
PS For the record unaffiliated seems to include atheists, agnostics and no particular religious beliefsNo comments