01: American Muslims have a generally positive view of the U.S., seeing little conflict between Islam and being an American citizen, and they are more likely to reject Islamic extremism than their counterparts in Europe, according to a new survey. The survey by the Pew Research Center finds that a majority of respondents (53 percent) said that it has become more difficult to be a Muslim since the September 11 attacks, but most also express satisfaction with the U.S.
Only 21 percent of foreign born and 38 percent of native born Muslims said they should try to remain distinct from American society and 63 percent do not see a conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society. The native born Muslims–half of whom are African-American– and representing 35 percent of American Muslims– tended to take a more negative view of American society. Very few–just one percent– of American Muslims say suicide attacks against civilian targets are often justified to defend Islam. An additional seven percent of most younger American Muslims say that such attacks may be sometimes justified.
Native born- African American Muslims were more likely than foreign born Muslims to have favorable views of Al Queda (9 percent versus 3 percent). The survey shows that although many Muslims are relative newcomers to the U.S., they are also highly assimilated into American society. With the exception of very recent immigrants, most report that a large proportion of their friends are non-Muslims. (The full report can be found at:http://www..pewresearch/pubs/483/muslim-americans)
02: Latin Americans “entering the US are not only changing the face of traditional Catholicism; the immigration process itself may be stimulating the shift to charismatic religion,” writes Andrea Althoff in the e-newsletter Sightings (May 24). In analyzing a recent survey of Latino Catholics from the Pew Hispanic Center, Althoff writes that the most striking finding of the survey was that half of Latino Catholic respondents identified themselves as charismatic.
This finding undercuts assumptions that Mexican Catholics–both in Mexico and the U.S.–hold to a strongly traditional Catholicism based around the saints and a passive relationship with the church hierarchy. Because the charismatic movement is not as large as in other Latin American countries, Althoff surmises that the shift to charismatic religion takes place in relation to the immigrant process itself. This is also supported by the fact that immigrant Latinos are more likely to be charismatic than those born in the U.S.
Althoff’s own research in Latino parishes in Chicago suggests that the charismatic turn is ruffling feathers among some church leaders. Conflicts between laity and the church hierarchy are “especially poignant in parishes staffed with priests who are opposed to the renewalist movement.” These priests, schooled in liberation theology and the Catholic Social Action movement, fear that charismatics will downplay social justice and immigration issues. Yet both the Pew survey and Alhoff’s research show that few Latino charismatic Catholics plan on leaving their parishes or Catholicism. In contrast, they are nearly twice as likely than other Latino Catholics to serve their parishes in leadership roles.
03: Contrary to popular stereotypes, clergy report more job satisfaction and happiness than those in other occupations. The eighteen-year-long study on job satisfaction and general happiness was conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. The position of clergy members at the top of these categories was found to be anomalous within the context of the other results, which show that both job satisfaction and happiness are strongly linked to the prestige associated with an occupation.
But NORC survey director notes that “a number of very high prestige occupations do not finish at the top of either list.” Sightings (May 5) reports that an overwhelming 87.2 percent of clergy described themselves as “very satisfied” with their jobs; in contrast, only 47 percent of the general population described themselves this way. In related NORC findings, clergy reported that they were “very happy,” in great numbers — 67.2 percent against 33.3 percent among the general population. Among the people who reported the least satisfaction with their jobs were roofers, waiters and servers, non-construction laborers, and bartenders. Those who reported the least amount of happiness overall also tended to have what Smith describes as “low-skill, manual and service occupations.”
04: The growing research on the health benefits of religious belief and practice seems to have convinced many doctors, according to a new study. A University of Chicago survey of 1,000 doctors finds that 56 percent of them believe that religion and spirituality have a “significant effect on health.“ About the same percentage say that such influence is attributable to “divine intervention,” according to the study, which was reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine and cited by the National Catholic Register (May 6)