01: American entrepreneurs are similar to most other Americans in terms of belief in God, religious affiliation, and religious service attendance, but they do tend to have a more personal view of God and favor places of worship that are friendly to business concerns, according to a Baylor University study.
Researchers used a national random sample of U.S. adults and found that nearly nine out of 10 entrepreneurs are affiliated with a religious tradition, with one-third being evangelical Protestant, one-quarter mainline Protestant, and slightly less than one-quarter Roman Catholic. Two-thirds have no doubt God exists while five in 100 identify as atheist.
Entrepreneurs are very similar to the American population as a whole, attending religious services about monthly on average, and about a third of entrepreneurs attend services weekly or more. In the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (June), researchers Kevin Dougherty, Jenna Griebel, Mitchell Neubert, and Jerry Park note that entrepreneurs are more likely to believe that God is interested in their problems and affairs and put less emphasis on a public role for their faith. Finally, the sociologists found that entrepreneurs tend to favor congregations that are amenable to other business people and their concerns.
(Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1468-5906.)
02: A new study by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) finds that anti-Semitic incidents declined for the second year in a row.
The ADL’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents reported a 14 percent decline in 2012. Incidents monitored include vandalism, assaults, and threats and harassment against Jewish individuals. The ADL Audit, conducted annually since 1979, found 926 anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. last year and 1080 in 2011. But the picture of overall decline in these incidents is complicated by a proliferation of anti-Semitism online, as well as a rise in vandalism by 33 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year. Most of the vandalism took place on public property or individual homes, and 13 percent of these attacks were on Jewish institutions.
03: Census data recently released by Statistics Canada shows the continuing free fall of Christian affiliation and identity in Canadian society, moving closer to a European pattern of secularization.
In the e-newsletter Sightings (July 18), John Stackhouse of Regent College reports on the 2011 census data showing that 67.3 percent claim a Christian affiliation, compared to 83 percent in 1991. Along with the decline in Christianity, 25 percent of Canadians espoused no affiliation, an increase from 17 percent a decade earlier and from about 13 percent in 1991. Canada’s multicultural policy, welcoming those from religions around the world, has only slightly altered the nation’ religious landscape, according to the census. World religions beyond Christianity only accounted for eight percent of the population, increasing from about six percent ten years ago.
04: A new study finds the percentage of religious conservatives shrinking in each successive generation, with “religious progressives” representing one-in-five Americans.
The Economic Values Survey, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, found that aside from religious progressives, 38 percent are religious moderates, 28 percent are religious conservatives, and 15 percent are non-religious. The survey found that religious progressives are younger and more diverse than religious conservatives; they had a mean age of 44 while the mean age of religious conservatives is 53.
In the Millennial generation, there are nearly as many religious progressives as there are non-religious (22 percent). As far as religious makeup, Catholics (29 percent) constitute the largest share of religious progressives, followed by mainline Protestants (19 percent), the non-affiliated who still claim that religion is at least somewhat important to them (18 percent), non-Christian Americans (13 percent), trailed by evangelicals (4 percent). Religious progressives tended to characterize their religious commitment on the basis of doing good works, while religious conservatives say that being religious is more about having the certain beliefs.
05: A long-range international study finds that both discrimination against and support for religion have increased in the last two decades.
The study, conducted by Jonathan Fox of Bar Ilan University in Israel, uses new data from the Religion and State Round 2 dataset, which measures religion’s influence on politics in 177 countries from 1990 to 2008. In a forthcoming issue of the journal Religion and Politics, Fox finds that the increase in support for — measured by government support for religious policies or institutions — and discrimination against religion was robust and consistent across world regions and religious traditions. This finding contradicts the once predominant paradigm of secularization, which argues that religion’s pubic influence would decline, particularly in the West. In contrast, Fox writes that this study is based on a longer time frame and more comprehensive variables than previous ones. With this method, it shows that “every country is essentially a battleground between the supporters of religious and secular ideologies.”
(Politics and Religion, http://journals.cambridge.org.)
06: In the next decade, the world will grow more religious while atheists and agnostics will represent a smaller proportion of the world’s population, according an analysis by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
The new study looks at the changing demographics of Christianity over a 50-year period (1970-2020). In the International Bulletin of Missionary Research (July), researchers Gina Bellofatto and Todd Johnson find that in 1970, nearly 80 percent of the world’s population was religious. By 2010, that figure had grown to 88 percent and by 2020, the projection is up to about 90 percent. Due to the resurgence of Buddhism, Christianity, and other religions in China and Christianity in Eastern Europe, in ten years atheism and agnosticism will decline to 10.7 percent of the world’s population from 11.8 percent in 2010. Yet by 2020, the U.S. will have the most Christians (263 million). It will also have more agnostics and atheists (almost 53 million) than any other country after China.
Bellofatto and Johnson add that while Christianity and Islam will predominate as the world’s largest religions, there will also be more religious diversity in most countries (i.e. the Baha’i have a greater “global spread” than any other religion besides Christianity), but because of the particular growth of Christianity and Islam in the global south, this region will show less diversity by 2020. Among the countries likely to show the greatest growth rate for Christianity in the next ten years are China and Mongolia.
(International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 490 Prospect St., New Haven, CT 06511.)
07: Religiosity is regressing in Europe not only in its institutional forms, reinforcing trends toward individualization, new family models, and moral liberalism over time, writes Pierre Bréchon (Institute of Political Science, Grenoble, France) in the journal for prospective studies Futuribles (July-August).
Bréchon’s analysis is based on the data collected periodically since 1981 through the European Values Study in nine Western European countries (other ones were later added), including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. In the nine European countries under consideration, the percentage of people without a religious affiliation has grown from 15 percent to 35 percent (9 percent claiming full atheism, up to 18 percent in France). Both Catholics and Protestants have decreased, while Muslims have been on the rise as a consequence of migration.
Attempting to assess levels of religiosity with a variety of indicators (religious attendance, belief in God, feeling religious, etc.—the presence of at least seven out of ten indicators being seen as a sign of strong religious commitment), the percentage of people with strong religiosity has decreased, from 41 percent in 1981 to 32 percent today. Young people are on average less religious than older generations. It is higher among Muslims than among Christians, higher among Catholics than among Protestants. The survey also makes clear the key role of early religious socialization: the more people attended religious services frequently at the age of 12, the more likely they are to be religiously committed currently in adulthood. Among people who never attended religious services as teenagers, only 6 percent have a strong level of religiosity as adults.
The analysis of the results of the survey shows no indication that the current secularization trends could be reversed in Western Europe in the foreseeable future (at least until the mid-21st century), since the variations appear to be strongly generational (lower levels of religiosity among younger people). This is bound to have deep social consequences, beyond purely religious ones.
(Futuribles, 47 rue de Babylone, 75007 Paris, France – www.futuribles.com.)
08: While Italy still used to be seen in the 1980s as a Catholic country with a very small percentage of other believers (one percent), the religious landscape has undergone significant changes in recent decades: 7.6 percent of all residents (out of a population of more than 60 million) belong to religious minorities, reported PierLuigi Zoccatelli (Center for Studies on New Religions, CESNUR) at the 2013 CESNUR conference.
The changes in the religious composition of Italy’s population are due more to migration than to switching affiliations. Indeed, if only Italian citizens are considered (including people of foreign origins who acquired Italian citizenship), those belonging to religions other than the Roman Catholic Church make up 2.5 percent, Zoccatelli stressed. According to CESNUR estimates on migrants, there are 1,360,000 Muslims and 1,294,700 Eastern Orthodox; in the latter group, Romanians make the largest part. Obviously, the percentage of people of other faiths having Italian citizenship is bound to increase over years, through the process of naturalization.
Still, there are also people of Italian descent who embrace other faiths, particularly Protestantism. Among the 435,000 Protestant Italian citizens, only 14.9 percent belong to “historical” Protestant denominations, while 72 percent (313,000) belong to Pentecostal churches. It should also be mentioned that there are more than 400,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Italy. Data on religion in Italy are presented in much more detail in the 3rd edition of Encyclopedia of Religion in Italy (available only in Italian), coedited by PierLuigi Zoccatelli and Massimo Introvigne, released in April. This volume of more than 1,200 pages provides detailed information on 836 religious groups (there had been 658 in the 1st edition in 2001).
(For additional information on the Enciclopedia delle religioni in Italia: http://www.cesnur.org/2013/enciclopediareligioni2013.htm.)
09: While Belgium has been rated as one of the most secularized European societies, the country has recently witnessed a significant growth of Protestant, particularly Pentecostal churches, reports the British newsletter on religious trends and research, Future First (June). Although Catholic Mass attendance has fallen sharply since the 1970s, Protestant churches have shown steady growth since the 19th century, although they have remained small, representing about two percent of the population by 2012.
But the new growth of Pentecostal churches has outstripped those of the older mainline churches, tripling in number from 69 in 1980 to 242 in 2012. Part of this growth is due to the growth of immigrant churches that minister to newcomers particularly from Africa in non-Belgian languages. But these congregations do not seem themselves as national churches reaching out to a particular ethnic group but rather see themselves as reaching out to all of Belgian society. Not all of the growth is in new Pentecostal churches; some of the historic churches have taken a charismatic turn as Belgians are drawn to Pentecostal practices and spirituality.
(Future First, The Old Post Office, 1 Thorpe Ave., Tonbridge, Kent TN10 4PW UK.)
10: A new study by the Pew Research Center finds that countries that underwent the Arab Spring have not lessened religious restrictions on minorities and in fact have often increased them.
The study, which measured religious restrictions by world regions on an index, finds that the Middle East and North Africa showed restrictions growing from a median score of 4.7 to 5.9 from 2007 to December of 2011. Along with measuring government restrictions, the index also looked at social hostilities against religion. Before the Arab Spring, both government restrictions and social hostilities were higher in the Middle East and North Africa than in any other region of the world. In late 2011, government restrictions remained high (the region next highest in such restrictions was Asia-Pacific at 3.2), while social hostilities markedly increased—starting at 3.7 in 2007 and going to 5.4 in 2011.