A Burgundy and Gold Obsession
'Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.' - Groucho Marx

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  1. #1

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    James Madison

    Default Religion in America

    I may be the only one interested in this, but I thought I would throw it out there nonetheless. I am reading a fascinating book on Christianity in America over the past 50-ish years, called American Grace. It is written by two economists (IIRC), who conducted an incredibly large survey a few years ago, and are discussing the results. The book deals with ethnicity, gender, politics and so on in religion, and the effect all these changes have had on the church.

    For instance, one of their thesis (thesi?) purports that the church reacted strongly against the sexual revolution of the 60' and 70's in the culture. Instead of going along with the culture, the church went the opposite direction, and became more conservative (as an interesting side note, there were an equal number of liberals and conservatives in the pews before this happened), eventually aligning itself with the Republican Party, and forming the Religious Right. This coincided with the slow but steady demise of mainline denominations (Methodists, Presbyterian, Episcopal, etc) to the point that these mainline churches were not thought to be likely to survive in the 90's. Part of that was because of the incredible surge of Evangelical churches during that same time, as they aligned with the Republicans more and more closely.

    However (Steven A Smith voice), in the 90's, the Evangelical growth began to taper off, and now they are doing well simply to maintain their membership (though children of evangelicals are much more likely to remain evangelicals than mainline denominational children), while the mainline denominations are starting to rise incrementally. Why would this be? The authors (through this study) hypothesize that thoes who came of age in the 90's (my generation) saw what they perceived as a disconnect between Christ's words and the increasingly political-affiliated church they saw. My generation now has the greatest number of "nones" (no denominational affiliation) in history. As this has happened, some mainline denominations have allowed gay marriage, have greater social justice programs, etc that they use to draw in those younger congregants. But even with that, there is a great number of people disaffected from church who don't attend anywhere.

    Some other interesting tidbits: being highly educated makes you MORE likely to attend church regularly, not less, contrary to popular opinion. The poor, uneducated are much more likely to be a "none" than a middle-class college grad.

    Interestingly, the while most people of my generation (coming of age in the 90's) feel more liberal on gay marriage, we also feel MORE conservatively on abortion than our parent's generation. And over the last 30 years, regular church attenders were just as likely to have a mother work outside the house as non-attenders. In other words, feminism is alive and kicking within most churches.

    Lots of other interesting tidbits I will share as I finish the book. Again, I find this fascinating (largely because I'm a major nerd).
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  2. #2

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    1) mothers working: feminism? or response to a crappy economy? also....trends also show that fewer and fewer males are graduating from Universities and Colleges (i.e., women are a greater percentage of graduates relatively and absolutely). what is it in the culture that is driving this?

    2) do the authors address the impact of the incessant anti-religion message from the mainstream culture/media?
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  3. #3

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    Mothers working is a 30 year trend, not a recent one. So if you are blaming the economy on that one, watch out, St Ronald may not be happy with you.

    Nope, they haven't talked about media at all, actually. Not yet, anyway.

    EDIT: Not that aren't making a valid point, but media influence is difficult to measure. They are focusing more on the numbers and facts, and certainly giving us their interpretations of both, but also allowing us to draw our own conclusions.
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  4. #4

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    George Mason

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    Quote Originally Posted by Goaldeje View Post
    The authors (through this study) hypothesize that thoes who came of age in the 90's (my generation) saw what they perceived as a disconnect between Christ's words and the increasingly political-affiliated church they saw.
    I started thinking this as my response before I got to this part in your post. It's 100% what has happened to me.

    I don't even look at it as religion anymore, I differentiate between religion and organized religion.

    Organized religion is not at all what I read in the bible when I was young, which is why I turned away from it. I cannot stand the political involvement that organization religion has. It is my opinion that it has NO place in politics or the education system (aside from religious classes, where all religions are discussed), what so ever. I also can't stand how they've taken it upon themselves to judge everyone and to try and impose their morals/view points on everyone else, despite the bible warning against that.

    I also think that it has to do with science... Science has come an incredibly long way since the 60's. Organized religion's only response is that science is the devil trying to convince us God doesn't exist.... which I just don't think resonates with people my age. I'm a CS major - my degree is science heavy. I find it hard to believe that a snake talked to a man and a woman, and that because the woman ate the apple we now have sin; a magical apple and a talking snake just don't fit with everything else I've learned through my life. That's not to say that I don't believe in God, just that the stories don't make sense and when people insist that the talking snake is real it makes me question the rest of the message. I'm very conflicted on what I believe at this point in my life (at age 27)... I want to believe that there is something out there...


    Religion was great when we didn't understand things; 'because the Gods wanted to' explained a lot of things. But now we understand why waters rise so high at certain times, why it rains so hard for so long in certain areas at certain times, why some years we get blizzards and others we barely get snow. etc etc etc...

    When organized religion stops trying to dictate how everyone else lives their life through politics, they'll start to earn their respect back from me.
    When organized religion stops trying to refute everything science has proven, they'll start to earn respect back from me.
    Until then they can screw off as far as I'm concerned.

    I also lol at the idea that the media/country is somehow against religion. The victim card that Christians play is laughably pathetic. Christmas owns their entire country, economy, and media for 3 months out of the year. Christianity is the only religion that gets a federal holiday revolving around it's savior. And, at least around here, so many people are given Good Friday off (ie: holiday pay, not personal time off) that it's pretty much a 2nd holiday in the northern VA area (we even take off because all of our customers are off and we sit around with nothing to do...). I guess that isn't good enough.
    Yup, poor Christianity, always getting the shaft.
    Last edited by tshile; 06-29-12 at 10:40 AM.
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    James Madison

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    Yep. I work in churches every day and stopped going for a while because I couldn't take it.

    For what it's worth, you might try a mainline denomination sometime, they tend to be much less political. But as the book discusses, you are in the growing number of "nones" who may (or may) practice their own faith, but do so privately, without the corporate worship aspect, due to a variety of reasons.
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  6. #6

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    I have long believed the each generation finds it increasingly harder to adhere to the teachings of the Bible. It is therefore conveniently reinterpreted to a more acceptable tone, so they don't lose parishioners to whom they pass the plate. It is what I call, Religion Lite.

    It is my theory that this is what created the need for a "New Testament", because the Old one was just too dang hard to live up to.

    For the record, when I served my 10-12 year sentence at Folsom Religion, it was old fashioned fire and brimstone. So, my original view of it was pretty much, "by the book". Which doesn't leave the wiggle room that seems to be so acceptable today.

    Not trying to flame hear. Just an outside observation.
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    Florida Atlantic

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    Wah wah wah, the liberal main stream media is killing religion, wah wah wah!

    Give me a break...
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    Perhaps, Ax. But I think if you look back through the history of religion, you will find a series of peaks and valleys of religious fervor, for lack of a better term.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goaldeje View Post
    Perhaps, Ax. But I think if you look back through the history of religion, you will find a series of peaks and valleys of religious fervor, for lack of a better term.
    I was talking more to the interpretation of the Bible, and how it's seemed to change during my lifetime. 50+yrs.
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    George Mason

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    Ax, that was another thing I wanted to bring up. I'm very happy you did.

    The fact that they keep changing things doesn't sit well with me either. It brings into question the authenticity of the bible when you do that.

    The christian religion is in a no win situation. I'm sure things will swing the other way eventually, since that seems to be the trend through history. But right now I can't see what it is that will make it change directions.
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    I know this will be difficult...but get it straight: I said the culture and media (culture/media).

    you are free to apply any dogma you chose! I would never begrudge you that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeSr619 View Post
    Im definitely a child of the 90s and believe that religion is used and twisted for man's own gain. Is it the liberals fault? No, its a sinner's fault. I read my Bible, pray to God, and just try to live right. I sin every day but try to make ammends for it. I no longer attend a regular church but instead believe that I myself am all the church I know need to connect with God.
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    That is why religion was created - as a means to an end. To control the population. There is an underlying goodness and structure to religion, I don't think most athiests/agnostics deny this, however its the way religion is used that is a HUGE problem for many.

    Just my 2 cents, and not meant as an attack on religion.
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    George Mason

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    I'm sorry, thank you for the correction.
    The bible isn't changing (as far as I'm aware). It's the people/words.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanky Livingston View Post
    That is why religion was created - as a means to an end. To control the population. There is an underlying goodness and structure to religion, I don't think most athiests/agnostics deny this, however its the way religion is used that is a HUGE problem for many.

    Just my 2 cents, and not meant as an attack on religion.
    as though agnosticism/atheism isn't similarly used!

    while I am not a religious person...I do happen to see it through a wider aperture than your exclusively political pov:

    - religions provide a sanctioning authority

    - religions address morality

    - religions address unanswerable verities such as the meaning of life, creation of the Universe, etc

    - religions address the soul

    - religions service the community

    - religions answer a fundamental human need for faith

    - religious belief is free...not compelled
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    Florida Atlantic

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    Quote Originally Posted by fansince62 View Post
    as though agnosticism/atheism isn't similarly used!
    By who?

    I've already acknowledged that there is good in religion and a lot of its underlying message. Nobody can say "love thy neighbor" is bad. So, the rest of your post is somewhat irrelevant.
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    no...you pontificated your usual inanities:

    "That is why religion was created - as a means to an end. To control the population."

    which is doubly ironic since your political/governance preferences clearly favor precisely this sort of outcome!!!
    Last edited by Neophyte; 06-29-12 at 02:25 PM. Reason: Remove unnecessary personal comment.
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    Florida Atlantic

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    Nothing to see here - Management
    Last edited by Neophyte; 06-29-12 at 02:26 PM. Reason: Remove response to personal comment.
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    this does get tedious

    - first of all....it's "by whom"

    - secondly...if I have to parse it for you......agnosticism/atheism is a worldview. it is no different from religion in the sense of asserting conclusions about entities, their relationships...and prescribing behaviors. sell the marketing to someone who is interested.
    Last edited by Neophyte; 06-29-12 at 02:27 PM.
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  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by fansince62 View Post
    this does get tedious

    - first of all....it's "by whom"
    Thanks for the English lessons...me point no understood without silly m.

    I will rephrase:

    By whom?

    Now that everyone understands...mind answering?

    - secondly...if I have to parse it for you......agnosticism/atheism is a worldview. it is no different from religion in the sense of asserting conclusions about entities, their relationships...and prescribing behaviors. sell the marketing to someone who is interested.
    So, who is this "worldview," and how are they controlling athiests? I was asking for a specific entity, not some broad generalization. For example, the vatican has used religion to control government for a long time. Or, Henry VIII created a religion so that he could get divorced. Things like this is what I'm looking for.

    If you're saying "in general" my "worldview" controls me, then I present you with the captain obvious cookie award. Yes, the way we view things "controls" us in the sense that it dictates how we react to certain things. The difference is that athiesm doesn't have a guy in white robes and a funny hat sitting on a throne somewhere, controlling our outlook.
    Last edited by Neophyte; 06-29-12 at 02:27 PM.
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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeSr619 View Post
    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/0...cal/?hpt=hp_c2



    racist AND involving politics and religion. I thought she would know to separate church and state but apparently the Obama's dont give a ****. seriously...SERIOUSLY!!
    Interestingly, I just finished the chapter of ethnicity and religion during lunch. The Black Protestant churches are some of the more politically active churches, along with the (largely) white evangelicals. However, the black protestants political affiliations don't seem to hurt their attendance, mostly given that ethnicity and religion are closely intertwined in that segment of the population (which is very similar to the Hispanics and Catholicism, btw).

    As for the whole media vs. Christianity debate, meh. I think as a group, we Christians tend to be a bit melodramatic about the War on Christmas and so on. My personal opinion is that as religion and the culture around it have drifted apart from each other, media reflects culture more than religion, so the perceived slights exist more and more. In religion's golden age of the 20th century (Post WWII-sexual revolution), religion and culture were much more intertwined and enmeshed, so the media wasn't critical of religion, and in fact, encouraged it to some degree. As the culture started to drift one way and religion the other way, criticisms began to be more frequent.

    Those who think there is no media bias against Christianity are kidding themselves; those who think it is a big conspiracy against Christianity are flattering themselves. It is what it is, imo. Nothing more.
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