Comment: 58% daily prayer – US Pew Forum

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 McCullie Pew Forum

News: US Conservative Christians Rile Against Obama’s Social Reforms

More marginalised with the Republican Party out of power, the US religious conservatives are having to work harder to continue their fight against progressive social reforms. Their target is Democratic President, Barack Obama and his attempts at long-overdue reforms of the discriminatory health care systems in the US. There is no doubt that the US has excellent health care for the well-off but it’s dismal for everyone else.

Still that doesn’t worry the Christian conservatives. They fear state-funded abortions and the breaking of their God’s law. As I have said before, a consistent theme for traditional religions is theology over humanity. Read an article from Reuters.

Religious critics and progressive and liberal religious together should show these Christian conservatives for what they really are – dangerous moralisers working against human interests.

Alex McCullie

News: US – More Evangelicals & Non-Believers

USAToday reports that the biggest US churches are modern and evangelical – no surprise there. In an older related article USAToday describes a 20 year comparison of religious profiles in the US with a survey of generational religious changes over last 20 years.

Most religions lost ground with significant state-by-state variations. The broad non-believer category increased significantly (8% in 1990 to 15% in 2008).

One big casualty has been the mainstream Protestant churches, experiencing sharp declines. As discussed before, progressive Christian leaders present more credible religious beliefs (or perhaps  better described as non-beliefs) and progressive social attitudes to essentially the disenfranchised, liberal-minded, Christians. However the overall push towards evangelicalism and non-belief does appear ominous for progressives and liberals to compete in that  US religious market-place.

One article goes on to suggest the willingness of non-believers to declare themselves with today’s more tolerant society and as a rejection of the perceived irrelevance and destructiveness of organised religions. Child-sex scandals have dug deep into the churches’ moral standings. As an aside, modern religious people rightfully talk about the importance for religious tolerance but often do not apply that thinking to non-religious beliefs.

Alex McCullie

News: Importance of Religion to US – Gallop

While religion is becoming less important to Australians, it still is big part of the US daily life. Here’s a state by state breakdown (10 top and 10 least plus overall) from the Gallop poll article.

Alex McCullie

Click to view article
Click to view article
Click to view article

News: Religious Make-up of US Congress

According to the latest Pew report the largest religious groups in the US are represented in roughly the same proportions in the US Congress. There is one exception – Unaffiliated – non-religious, agnostic, atheist.

16.1% of the Unaffiliated US population is represented by 0% of US Congress.

Alex McCullie

News: Palin’s US Iraq Occupation “task from God” video

In case you missed THE Sarah Palin video. Palin’s religiosity is a very scary from someone who may run militarily the powerful country ever (video). In fact the whole video reinforces every stereotype of religious belief that atheists attack.

Alex McCullie

Profile: Robert G Ingersoll – soldier, politician, orator and agnostic

Robert Green Ingersoll was a very popular orator of the late 19th Century in the US. He spoke regularly promoting free thought and agnosticism as well as criticising religious belief. Ingersoll used his speeches – often long and fully memorised – to advocate radical social views on religion, slavery and woman’s suffrage.

After serving in the American Civil War, Ingersoll became the State Attorney General in Illinois. Ultimately he was unable to pursue a federal political career while still holding his agnostic beliefs and speaking on the need for major social reforms.

Robert Ingersoll was born in 1833 to an abolitionist Presbyterian preacher. He established a law practice with his brother after being admitted to the bar. Ingersoll formed the Illinois Cavalry Regiment and served as a Colonel in the Civil war. After following a state political career and being a famous and popular orator, he died in 1899 of heart failure.

…”What is greatness ?”

A great man adds to the sum of knowledge, extends the horizon of thought, releases souls from the Bastile of fear, crosses unknown and mysterious seas, gives new islands and new continents to the domain of thought, new constellations to the firmament of mind. A great man does not seek applause or place; he seeks for truth ; he seeks the road to happiness, and what he ascertains he gives to others. A great man throws pearls before swine, and the swine are sometimes changed to men. If the great had always kept their pearls, vast multitudes would be barbarians now.

A great man is a torch in the darkness, a beacon in superstition’s night, an inspiration and a prophecy. Greatness is not the gift of majorities ; it cannot be thrust upon any man ; men cannot give it to another; they can give place and power, but not greatness.

The place does not make the man, nor the sceptre the king. Greatness is from within.

Voltaire! a name that excites the admiration of men, the malignity of priests. Pronounce that name in the presence of a clergyman, and you will find that you have made a declaration of war. Pronounce that name, and from the face of the priest the mask of meekness will fall, and from the mouth of forgiveness will pour a Niagara of vituperation and calumny. And yet Voltaire was the greatest man of his Century, and did more to free the human race than any other of the sons of men.

(Voltaire – A Lecture by Robert G Ingersoll 1895)

Nearly, every people have created a god and the god has always resembled his creators. He hated and loved what they hated and loved, and he was invariably found on the side of those in power. Each god was intensely patriotic, and detested all nations but his own. All these gods demanded praise and flatter, and worship. Most of them were pleased with sacrifice, and the smell of innocent blood has ever been considered a divine perfume. All these gods have insisted upon having a vast number of priests, and the priests have always insisted upon being supported by the people, and the principal business of these priests has been to boast about their god and to insist that he could easily vanquish all the other gods put together.

(The God, Their Lectures by Robert G Ingersoll 1876 – Oration on the Gods)

© 2008 Alex McCullie