01: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was the fastest-growing denomination in the last dead, followed by various Pentecostal churches, according to a new study.
The study, conducted by Glenmary Research Center, confirmed previous studies showing that conservative churches have grown far faster than liberal and moderate bodies. The LDS church boosted its membership by 19.3 percent to a total of 4.2 million, followed by the conservative Christian and Churches of Christ congregations (18.6 percent), the Assemblies of God (18.5 percent), and the Roman Catholic Church (16.2 percent).
The denominations with the largest decreases was United Church of Christ (14.5 percent) and the Presbyterian Church USA (at 14.8 percent). The study found far fewer Muslim than presented by Muslim groups and in the media. The estimate of 1.5 million clashes sharply with the seven million estimate provided by most U.S. Muslim groups.
02: Another study finds that the number of American Jews is found to be much higher than earlier reports have stated. The Jewish Week newspaper (Sept. 27) reports that the survey, conducted by the Institute for Jewish Community Research, reveals a total of 6.7 million Americans claiming Judaism as their primary religious and ethnic identification. This figure contrasts sharply with the benchmark survey of “core Jews” conducted by the National Jewish Population Survey in 1990.
The IJCR study also found an additional 2.5 million respondents whom he terms “Jewishly connected non-Jews,” meaning that they practice Judaism as a secondary religion or that their spouse is Jewish or that they simply “feel Jewish in their hearts.”
To complicate matters further, the survey finds another 4.1 million Americans who claim some Jewish blood. The previous NJPS did not measure such populations, believing that the “core” identifies the number of people practicing Judaism or identifying with the Jewish community. Gary Tobin, head of the IJCR, says he did not distinguish between core and non-core Jews. He maintains that his “big tent” approach to polling shows that the “sociological network of Jews is growing.”
03: Most surveys show little lasting effect of Sept. 11 on religious behavior or beliefs.
Public Perspective (September/October), a review of polling and pubic opinion, finds that Americans’ “personal ties to religion were neither strengthened nor weakened by the events of Sept. 11. The rise in church-going after the attacks lasted only a few weeks. But the way in which religion was perceived did show substantial change after 9/11.
In every survey conducted by Pew and Gallup polls, a clear majority has believed that religion’s influence in the country was in decline. After 9/11, Americans of all faiths and regional, racial and socioeconomic groups changed that view (for instance, one Pew survey found 78 percent believing the influence of religion was on the rise). But even that view turned out to be short-lived, as by February the public’s view of the influence of religion was back down to pre-9/11 levels (with 52 percent saying it is on the decline).
Yet the majority continue to believe that even if religion’s influence was in decline, this was a bad thing for the country.
(Spirituality & Health, 74 Trinity Place, New York, NY 10006)