There’s little for us mainliners to celebrate in this new Pew study. We’re losing people, and fast. I appreciate Heidi Haverkamp’s realistic-yet-hopeful words here and Rob Rynders’ there. But, like them, I’m not interested in spinning an argument that the numbers are somehow lying.
The numbers are clearer, however, than the reasons for them.
I often think I hear colleagues asking, “How could we attract nuns to our church?” Actually they’re talking about “the nones,” of course. One of the clearest findings of the Pew Forum’s new religious landscape study is that fewer and fewer people have any religious affiliation at all. Catholics and mainline Protestants show the biggest drop.
How do American people-of-faith feel about American people-of-different-faith?
The Pew Forum has a new polling report on this question. It seems Catholics have a slightly higher view of Jews than vice versa, while white evangelicals' view of Jews is much higher than Jews' view of evangelicals. White mainline Protestants have moderately positive views of Jews, Catholic, and evangelicals, while the opposite is....
Last week Pew released some more data from its spring survey on the rise of the nones. They asked people if they thought the growing number of "people who are not religious" is good, bad or neutral for American society. One interesting finding: while most of the nones said neutral, nearly as many said "bad" as "good." Almost a fifth of the nones think the growth of the nones—of their own group—is bad for society.
So most Jews know where Jesus was born, even though few Christians know
much about Buddhism. Jesus makes the cover of one general-interest
magazine or another ever month or so, and it only takes a couple
shopping trips between Thanksgiving and New Year's to accidentally
memorize the words to "O Little Town of Bethlehem."
The political-moral spin from online bloggers and television opinion-makers is enough to make citizens dizzy, if not profoundly unsure of where U.S. public opinion is headed. The controversies relating to religious views have put the nonpartisan Pew polls in the spotlight.