01: Although the population of U.S. Catholics rose by more than a million last year, the church showed a loss of school enrollment and sacramental observance, according to the 2006 Official Catholic Directory. The directory, which gathers statistics from diocesan reports, found that Catholic school enrollment declined by 13,000 to just under 680,000 students. The decline of sacramental practices included a drop of 11,000 marriages conducted; 15,000 fewer confirmations, 40,000 fewer first communions, and 34,000 fewer baptisms.
02: Religious beliefs and church attendance have positive effects on donating to charity but people with many religious friends tend to donate less, according to a study in the Review of Religious Research(June). Past studies have shown that religious people tend to give more to secular charities, but there has been little agreement on which dimensions of religiosity affect charitable giving. Researchers Jan Reitsma, Peers Scheepers, and Manfred Te Grotenhuis of Radboud University in the Netherlands find from a seven-nation study that both private dogmatic convictions as well as integration into a religious community affected intentional giving.
The religiosity of one’s social network, such as a spouse, also had an effect, but having friends with similar religious views actually had a negative effect on giving. The researchers speculate that having religious friends may lead to a diffusion of individual responsibility
(Review of Religious Research, 618 SW 2nd Ave., Galva, IL 61434)
03: Christians and Buddhists show the highest rates of literacy and per capita Gross National Product (GNP), according to recent statistics gathered by missions researcher Todd Johnson. Quadrant (July), the newsletter of the Christian Research Association, reports that the data shows Christians and Buddhists are about 20 times wealthier than Hindus.
The Buddhists and Christians showed a $9,000 and $8,000 (respectively) GPA, compared to Hindu GPA of $400. The Muslim per capita GPA is $1,700. The reason given for the low Hindu GPA was that most Hindus live in India, still a very poor country. Buddhists led in literacy rates (92 percent for men and 82 percent for women), followed by Christians (88 percent and 81 percent), Muslims (68 percent and 48 percent), tribal religions (75 percent and 56 percent), and Hindus (65 percent and 38 percent).
(Quadrant, Vision Bldg., 4 Footscray Rd., Eltham, London SE9 2TZ UK)
04: A recent Gallup Poll shows a growth of Christianity in Japan, long considered a nation resistant to Christian influence. Charisma magazine (August) reports that the poll showed that four percent of adults and seven percent of teens profess Christianity. Previous polls have shown far smaller Christian percentages, with some as low as 0.7 percent.
Of the 30 percent of adults who claim to have a religion, 12 percent said they were Christian, 19 percent Shinto and 75 percent Buddhist. Of the 20 percent of youth claiming a religion, 36 percent said they adhered to Christianity, 36 percent said they followed Shinto, and 60 percent called themselves Buddhist. As the figures indicate, some respondents claimed more than one religion. One analyst said that some professing Christianity may be “pre-Christians”– those exploring the faith but yet to make a commitment to the religion.
(Charisma, 600 Rhinehart Rd., Lake Mary, FL 32746)