Category Archives: Religion

Variants of religiousness

A useful summary of variants of religiousness with reference to Christianity, although it works just as well for other systems: I is Identifies (with the religion), B is Believes, A is Attends (services), x before the letter negates that factor.
Religious Christians – IBA
Moderately or passively religious Christians – IBxA
Social or instrumental Christians – IxBA
Nominal Christians – IxBxA
Active but unaffiliated Christians – xIBA
Privately religious, or ‘spiritual but not religious,’ Christians – xIBxA
Non-religious attenders – xIxBA

Not religious – xIxBxA

Obviously, there’s more detail than this.

One can identify with, for example, a denomination and a religion, or with only one of those (e.g., “Non-denominational Christian”, or “secular Anglican”).  Similarly, one can identify with a religious group whose other members reject the identification with them (e.g., Jehovah’s Witnesses as part of Christianity).

Belief varies not only by strength, but by form and origin.  One believer can accept one metaphysical proposition dogmatically (because it was taught by a trusted source), another unconsciously (having never thought about it), a third emotionally (having experienced something which made belief in it important), and a fourth philosophically (reaching a conclusion based on propositions either within or without the official system).

Attendance, of course, can include High Holy Days only, services which feature one particular characteristic (e.g., when Reverend Sally is preaching), every Sunday, or every Sunday morning and Sunday evensong and Wednesday evensong and Friday prayer meeting and Saturday youth group – not all of those necessarily at one church or within one denomination.

Even the above are simplifications.  As with many other things, the closer you look, the more complex it becomes.


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The narrative of persecution in Christian news

The Christian Post shared an article saying that Christians were kicked out of an Australian bar for discussing their opposition to gay marriage. The bar, however, say that they asked the Christians to move their meeting – which included people using a public address system – from the beer garden to the bar’s private function space. Notably, the CP fails to mention this.
A couple of weeks ago, the same news service shared a story about a Christian student’s being kicked out of his university for supporting Kim Davis . That article fails to mention that publicly sharing a passage calling homosexuality an “abomination” worthy of the death penalty violates the Standards of Conduct, Performance, and Ethics for UK social workers , and that it was the violation of professional standards, not his religious belief, for which he was expelled not from the university but from a professional training course.
If you want to know why so many Christians believe that they are being persecuted, you could start by looking at how much their news services are omitting.

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Low education means you’re more likely to be religious or irreligious than spiritual.

PRRI’s latest release on the “spiritual” versus “religious” reinforces some of the usual differences, but not all of them.

There is a well-established correlation between gender and religion, and that is borne out here: about 27% more men than women are neither “spiritual” (in belief) nor “religious” (in practice); 27% more women than men are “religious”; 34% more women are “spiritual”; 44% more women are both “spiritual” and “religious”.

There is also a well-established negative correlation between religion and extent of education, but the data show some interesting things about irreligion and spirituality. For example, a person with only a secondary-level education is 3.6 times as likely as a person with a postgraduate education to be “religious”, 3.42 times as likely to be “neither spiritual nor religious”, but only 2.03 times as likely to be “spiritual”; a person with an undergraduate degree is 1.52 times as likely as the postgrad to be “religious”, 1.5 times as likely to be “neither spiritual nor religious”, but only 1.26 times as likely to be “spiritual”. In other words, there is strong correlation between low education and religiousness, almost as strong a correlation between low education and irreligiousness, but a considerably weaker correlation between low education and spirituality.

Given the typical antipathy of institutes of higher learning towards the dogmatism of traditional religion, it’s interesting to see that the same effect does not impact spirituality.

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Evangelical scientists, on climate change

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The projected development of world religious trends

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Young people’s views of religion

The following is a useful graphic display of the difference between US Christian and non-Christian views of Christianity. Barna have a similar chart relating to what people perceive as “extreme” in religion, and nearly three times as many young Brits believe religion to be a nett source of evil as believe it to be a nett source of good. 

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The Bible and refugees

On using Dt 7:3 as justification for banning refugees because they might contaminate your society.

That verse in its context: “When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you go to possess […] you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. Nor shall you make marriages with them.” – Deuteronomy 7:1-3. That passage is *not* talking about refugees, but about Israel’s invasion of the Promised Land.

Subsequently, the Torah refers to Israel’s life in the Promised Land, saying, “‘And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” – Leviticus 19:33-34. They are not treated as Israelites if they are denied the right to marry Israelites.

This injunction is repeated: “the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” – Deuteronomy 10.

The Torah does indeed require a coherent law for the whole society, which includes *equal rights* for all members of that society.”

In fact, we have the Torah in its repeated, explicit commandment to care for refugees:
• Lev 19:18 thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself
• Lev 25:35 And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.
• Deu 10:17 For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:
• Deu 10:18 He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.

Next, the Nevi’im, continuing that theme:
• Isa 1:17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
• Jer 7:6 If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt:
Jer 7:7 Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.
• Hos 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
• Mic 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
• Zec 7:10 And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.

Then, the Ketuvim, maintaining the same discourse:
• Psa 82:3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Psa 82:4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
• Pro 14:31 He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.
• Pro 17:5 Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.

And finally the Christian Scriptures, following that same idea:
• Mat 5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
• Mat 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
• Mat 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
Mat 25:42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
Mat 25:43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
• Luk 10:29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? […] 33 But a certain Samaritan
• 1Jn 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

Just to make it perfectly clear, there is no exemption for a stranger who is hostile:
• Mat 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”.

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