01: The growth of “worship wars” in churches waged between those pressing for contemporary music and others hankering for traditional liturgy and hymns is exaggerated, according to a recent Barna Poll.
In a national poll of church-goers, Barna finds that battles between contemporary and traditional worshippers in Protestant churches do exist but they are limited. About one-quarter of senior pastors say their church has music-related tensions, but only five percent claim such conflicts are “severe.” About three out of 10 pastors report “somewhat serious” tensions regarding music. As a total, only seven percent of Protestant churches say they have “severe” or “somewhat serious” music conflicts.
Part of the reason for the lack of widespread conflict is that worshippers did not particularly rate music as a key concern for attending their church. Only 17 percent said they would change their attendance patterns if the musical style of the church was altered. [Barna doesn’t focus on conflicts surrounding liturgy, probably because of his strong evangelical orientation.]
(Barna Research Online, http://www.barna.org)
02: While institutional religious involvement is often cited as a factor in involvement in social action, spirituality also may have an important role in individuals’ engagement in social change, according to a recent study.
The Christian Century (Oct. 23-Nov. 5) reports that the University of Southern California study based on in-depth interviews with 67 men and women found that a commitment to social justice was connected to the “tailoring [of] a subjectively meaningful practice and worldview” associated with spirituality. Some of these individuals — selected from all the major religious faiths — had rediscovered texts and practices from their own traditions.
Others incorporated rituals, such as chanting and meditation, from other faiths. A third pattern was finding spiritual meaning in ordinary activities, such as eating with friends and family or even working out in a gym. “Most of our Christian interviewees utilized each of these forms of spiritual appropriation to some degree,” said Gregory Stancak, who collaborated in the study.
03: The sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church is having a significant negative effect on the collection baskets, with 20 percent of parishioners saying they have stopped contributing money to their diocese, according to a Gallup poll.
The poll, commissioned by the Foundations and Donors Interested In Catholic Activities (FADICA), found that one in nine have also cut back on the money they give to their parish. Commonweal magazine (Nov. 22) reports that the poll found that 64 percent of Catholics think the bishops have badly mishandled the most serious crisis to ever face the Catholic Church. FADICA president Francis J. Butler says the drop in offerings is due to parishioners’ questions about how much money bishops have spent on sexual-abuse settlement claims, and whether there will be public disclosure on such matters.
(Commonweal, 475 Riverside Dr., Rm. 405, New York, NY 10115)
04: Muslims reporting hate crimes against them because of their religion increased dramatically since Sept. 11, according to figures released by the FBI.
The FBI’s annual hate crimes report finds that incidents targeting people, institutions, and businesses identified with the Muslim faith increased from 28 in 2000 to 481 in 2001 — a growth of 1,600 percent. The figures did not specify how many of the 481 crimes occurred after Sept. 11, 2001.
05: The percentage of British churchgoers attending “large” churches (over 200) has almost doubled in the 1990s, according to recent figures.
Quadrant (November), the newsletter of the British Christian Research Association, reports that two-thirds of churchgoers attend churches with more than 100 in the congregation, but the percentage attending the largest churches increased from 26 percent to 40 percent between 1989 and 1998.
The growth of large churches went from eight percent to 11 percent. While the number of Anglican large churches stayed the same — at about 1,300 — the number of free churches, such as Baptist and Pentecostal, increased from 1,500 to 2,500 during this ten-year period. In 2002, the “very largest” churches represented 0.1 percent of all churches but accounted for one percent of all churchgoers, which is 10 times their number.
(Quadrant, Vision Bldg., 4 Footscray Rd., Eltham, London SE9 2TZ UK; http://www.christian-research.org.uk)