01: There is still a Presbyterian (or Calvinist) difference at work in the way that these Christians show high levels of optimism, volunteering, happiness and generalized trust, writes William Weston in the social science journal Society (July/August). Weston analyzes recent data from the Presbyterian Panel comparing them with the results of the General Social Survey and the Baylor Religion Survey, and he finds that while mainline Protestant identity is associated with higher community volunteering and other “civic virtues,” the rate is more robust among Presbyterians on several measures. He finds that Presbyterians have held on to higher levels of trust than has the population as a whole. On the value of “trusting optimism,” Weston compared figures from the baseline of the 1972 American National Election Survey with 2014 Presbyterian Panel results and finds that 35 percent of the former were trusting optimists compared with 74 percent of the Presbyterians (though the Presbyterian Panel did not offer an “optimistic” or pessimistic” option). In comparing the larger population with Presbyterians, specifically members of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Weston finds that the latter scores higher. When focusing on Presbyterian elders, the differences are even greater: The general population was 30 percent very happy, 54 percent pretty happy, and 16 percent not too happy while the elders were 40 percent very happy, 54 percent pretty happy, and 6 percent not too happy.
02: A new study shows that Latinos make up more than half of all families in the Catholic Church in the U.S. The study, conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, finds that 54 percent of young couples in the 25 to 45-year-old age range said they were Latino or Hispanic. This is in comparison with the 32 percent of the overall adult Latino/Hispanic Catholic population. While many of these young Hispanic families may speak English, they are culturally Latino. The study, which is based on a 2014 CARA survey of 1,104 young families, found that 22 percent of respondents attend Mass weekly, which is similar to the overall Catholic adult population. Parents with a teenager at home were more likely to attend Mass weekly than those with an infant (26 percent to 18 percent). The survey also found that only 42 percent of weekly Mass-goers have a child enrolled in religious education programs, compared to 27 percent of monthly attendees.
03: Religion is one of several factors that make a difference in shaping one’s ethics regarding tax evasion, with Buddhists showing the most opposition to the practice and members of the Baha’i showing the least, according to an international study in the online Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies (Summer). The study, conducted by Serkan Benk (Inonu University, Turkey), Robert McGhee (Fayetteville State University), and Bahadir Yusbasi (Inonu University), is based on Wave 6 (2010-2014) of the World Values Survey asking about attitudes on tax evasion and such religious variables as attendance at religious services, rate of belief in God, importance of religion and frequency of the practice of prayer, as well as control variables on socio-economic conditions, social bonds and general views on society.
Following Buddhists, those least likely to justify cheating on taxes were Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Christians and Baha’i. The authors note the anomaly that the Baha’i faith is emphatic that tax evasion is never justified, with the sole exception being cases of religious persecution. “Apparently, the members of the Baha’i faith have views that differ from that of their official religious literature.” Along with the religious variables, the control variables of happiness, the importance of democracy, and being on the left side of the political spectrum increased respondents’ opposition to cheating on taxes.
(Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, http://www.jsri.ro/)
04: Catholics have been given a boost in their numbers in Britain from the significant influx of Polish immigrants in recent years, according to figures reported in The Tablet magazine (June 27). A report from the Office for National Statistics and the Home office finds that the 2011 census showed that almost half of the foreign-born population identified with a white ethnic group, and of these a sizeable minority (528,000) were from Poland. The census report also shows that of the foreign-born population in England and Wales nearly half (48 percent) identified as Christian, and a fifth identified as Muslim, with only one in seven having no religion.