Young Americans shifting US towards becoming less religious nation – Harriet Sherwood Tuesday 3 November 2015 16.31 EST

Growing numbers of ‘millennials’ who are unaffiliated or atheists are causing vast changes in the American religious landscape, report says

Catholic church

Declining levels of religious belief and practice among the generation of Americans born in the last two decades of the 20th century is shifting the US towards becoming a less devout nation, a major new survey has found.

The growing proportion of “millennials” – young adults now in their 20s and 30s – who do not belong to any organised faith is changing America’s religious landscape, says a report by the respected Pew Research Center, based on a survey of 35,000 people.

The religiously unaffiliated or “nones”, who include atheists and those who describe their religion as “nothing in particular”, have grown to 23% of the US population, compared to 16% at the time of the last comparable survey in 2007.

But three out of four Americans still have some religious faith, mainly Protestant denominations, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. And 89% of US adults say they believe in God – including a significant proportion of “nones” – making America more religiously inclined than other advanced industrial nations.

Youth largely equates with a lack of religious activity, says the report. One in four millennials attend religious services on a weekly basis, compared with more than half of those adults born before or during the second world war. Only 38% of adults born after 1990 say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 67% of those born before 1945.

Overall, 55% of American adults say they pray daily, 53% say religion is very important in their lives and 50% attend a religious service at least once a month. Significantly, more women (64%) pray on a daily basis than men (46%).

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Clerk’s gay marriage protest divides the Republican field – By Jesse Byrnes September 02, 2015, 04:38 pm

Republican presidential candidates are split on whether a Kentucky county clerk should be forced to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The case of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who has cited religious objections in refusing to issue the licenses, has pushed gay marriage toward the center of political debate at a time when the Republican Party is grappling with its stance on the issue.

The clerk’s crusade has become the first major legal flare-up over gay marriage since the Supreme Court’s decision in late June that legalized gay marriage nationwide.

Most of the Republican presidential candidates denounced the high court’s ruling, calling it judicial overreach that threatens the religious liberty of faith-based organizations and business owners.

Democrats mostly cheered the court while dismissing the warnings about religious freedom as overblown.

Rowan is scheduled to appear in court Thursday morning after defying a judge’s order to issue the licenses, a ruling that the Supreme Court itself refused to block.

With attention on the case growing, presidential contenders are beginning to stake out their positions on whether Rowan should be compelled to issue the licenses.

Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister, on Wednesday gave Rowan a full-throated endorsement after speaking to her on the phone.

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Matt Dillon Puts Rare Celebrity Spotlight on Rohingya Robin McDowell / AP   4:59 AM ET

“They are being strangled slowly, they have no hope for the future and nowhere to go”

In this Friday, May 29, 2015 photo, American actor Matt Dillon, right, shakes hands with Noor Alam, a 17-year old Rohingya survivor of human-trafficking at Thetkabyin village, north of Sittwe in the western state of Rakhine, Myanmar.

Robin McDowell—APMatt Dillon shakes hands with Noor Alam, a 17-year old Rohingya survivor of human-trafficking, at Thetkabyin village, Burma, on May 29, 2015

(SITTWE, Myanmar) — American actor Matt Dillon put a rare star-powered spotlight on Myanmar’s long-persecuted Rohingya Muslims, visiting a hot, squalid camp for tens of thousands displaced by violence and a port that has served as one of the main launching pads for their exodus by sea.

It was “heartbreaking,” he said after meeting a young man with a raw, open leg wound from a road accident and no means to treat it.

Mothers carrying babies with clear signs of malnutrition stood listlessly outside row after row of identical bamboo huts, toddlers playing nearby in the chalky white dust.

“No one should have to live like this, people are really suffering,” said Dillon, one of the first celebrities to get a first-hand look at what life is like for Rohingya in the western state of Rakhine. “They are being strangled slowly, they have no hope for the future and nowhere to go.”

Though Rohingya have been victims of state-sponsored discrimination for decades, conditions started deteriorating three years ago after the predominantly Buddhist country of 50 million began its bumpy transition from a half-century of dictatorship to democracy.

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Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Gets a Facelift – By Eric Trager and Marina Shalabi May 20, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at May 21, 2015 4.34 1

Amr Farrag is a prominent Muslim Brotherhood youth cadre. The 28-year-old Cairene is a widely followed exponent of the organization’s ideology on social media and manages the popular pro-Brotherhood news portal Rassd. But these days, he no longer operates in Cairo. On July 5, 2013—two days after the Egyptian military responded to mass protests by removing Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi—the organization’s leaders urged Farrag to relocate to Istanbul, so that he could evade the Egyptian government’s anti-Brotherhood crackdown and reestablish the organization’s media operations in exile. Meanwhile, as many more Muslim Brothers fled to Turkey during the chaotic weeks that followed Morsi’s ouster, the Brotherhood formed a committee in Istanbul to resettle them, hoping to preserve the organization until it could return to power in Egypt, which it promised its members would happen very soon.

But as the months wore on, and Egypt’s repression of the Muslim Brotherhood grew more severe (at least 2,500 people were killed and 16,000 imprisoned, and Morsi has just been sentenced to death), impatience with the rate of progress divided the organization’s younger members from its older ones. Farrag and other exiled Brotherhood youths rebelled against the group’s older leaders, blaming them for “misanalyzing” the political situation leading up to Morsi’s overthrow and then mismanaging the post-Morsi period. They further rejected their leaders’ calls for a patient, long-term struggle against Egypt’s military-backed government. They advocated instead for revolutionary—and violent—tactics to destabilize the government sooner rather than later.`

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Pro-lifers’ new litmus test for GOP – By JAMES HOHMANN 4/17/15 3:34 PM EDT

Presidential candidates must make 20-week abortion ban a centerpiece of their campaigns.

Ted Cruz is pictured. | AP Photo

For decades, Republican presidential contenders would commit to support a constitutional amendment banning abortion — a seemingly definitive statement on the issue that nonetheless had almost no chance of making it through the cumbersome process to change the Constitution.

Then, having sewn up pro-life support, they would move on to other issues.

In the 2016 election, pro-life groups have become more savvy — and less tolerant of lip-service endorsements. And among other provisions, they are pushing an idea that most agree has a realistic chance of becoming law: banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Fourteen of the likely GOP candidates already pledged to sign such a law if elected, but leaders of the community want them to offer vocal support of the measure — warning of peril in the primaries for those who do not and making the case that this could be a winning issue in the 2016 general election.

Even before talk of “legitimate rape” made Todd Akin a household name in 2012, many GOP candidates were skittish to engage on anything having to do with the A-word.

Social conservatives recognize that they have the most leverage during the nominating process. There were hours of discussion about how best to maximize it during a Thursday strategy session convened by the Susan B. Anthony List, one of the most influential anti-abortion groups.

Steve King, the conservative congressman from Iowa, told activists they should make a point of prodding candidates to detail their views during events. “If they’re not in a position where they talk about it, neither are they publicly committed,” King told a group of 75 at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Washington. “Getting them on record creates momentum for our cause.”

A group of moderate Republican congresswomen prodded House leadership to postpone a vote on the 20-week ban in January over concerns about the definition of rape in the bill. Activists continue pushing for votes in the House and Senate this Congress, but they know there aren’t the votes to override a presidential veto. So they’re focused on electing an ally as president. It’s part of a broader strategy to incrementally roll back abortion. Many states have already passed similar bills.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the SBA List, said that “inserting this into the presidential debate is way easier said than done.”

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Does Christianity have a Future? – Candida Moss 04.12.156:45 AM ET



A new study shows Christianity on the decline in the wealthy West, with Islam surging. What Would Jesus Say? It’s not what you think.

A study released by the Pew Forum last week demonstrates that the future of the religious world is rapidly and dramatically changing. Differences in fertility rates and the high incidence of conversion make Islam the world’s fastest-growing religion. And, if current rates continue, by 2070 Islam could be the world’s largest.Between now and 2050 the number of Muslims is projected to rise to 2.8 billion, a 35 percent increase. While India will continue to be predominantly Hindu, it will also be home to the world’s largest Muslim population. And, by 2050, Muslims are slated to make up 10 percent of Europe’s population and be the largest non-Christian religion in the U.S.

There is good news for Hindu and Jewish populations, too, which will continue to grow, and the global population of Buddhists should hold steady.

Changes are coming, though, for Christianity. The trend of southward expansion will continue. By 2050, 4 out of every 10 Christians will live in sub-Saharan Africa. Christianity will grow, but not in wealthier countries. In the U.S., the Christian majority will slip from roughly three-quarters of the population to a still-healthy two-thirds.

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Arkansas lawmakers pass ‘religion freedom’ bill – BBC News 12:01AM EDT

Indiana residents say the law there has been an embarrassment

Indiana residents say the law there has been an embarrassment

Arkansas has approved a religious freedom bill similar to one that has caused a storm of protest in Indiana.

Critics of the law say it could be used to discriminate against gay people because it gives business owners a legal defence based on their faith.

The measure now requires the signature of Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson, but it already has his backing.

A law signed last week in Indiana sparked a national outcry and calls to boycott the state.

Apple, Yelp, Angie’s List, the White House and Warren Buffett were among its critics.


The law’s critics…

Georg Takei
Takei called for a boycott of Indiana

Sport: National Collegiate Athletic Association, NBA, basketball players Charles Barkley and Jason Collins

Business: Angie’s List, Yelp, Warren Buffett, Apple, Gap, Levi’s

Politics: White House, Hillary Clinton, governors of New York, Connecticut and Washington state, cities San Francisco, Indianapolis and Seattle

Celebrities: Miley Cyrus, George Takei, Larry King


The furore forced the Indiana governor to say he wanted state lawmakers to add language to the law to clarify that it is not discriminatory.

Now the focus shifts to Arkansas, where hundreds of people filled the state capitol building for a second day to protest against the measure.

Some held signs that read “Hate is Not Holy” and “We are Open for Business for All Arkansans”.

Demonstrators in Little Rock
Demonstrators in Little Rock lost their battle to stop the bill

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