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Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Demographics of Religious Intolerance

(Keywords: , , , , , , getting to work at the DMV)

Let's start out with a few facts from the U.S. Census.

Christianity's on the decline in the US. In 1990 they were 88.3% of americans and, by 2001 79.8% - a -8.5% change. That's pretty damned fast for one decade. I'm just guessing here, but this is probably due to a shift in the home countries of legal immigrants to the US from Europe to the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Africa, and southeast Asia. Another factor is that many christians convert in order to marry people of other religions - a man may convert to marry a muslim woman or a woman might convert to judaism in order to have jewish children, for example. Of course, a lot of people convert because they think another religion is a better idea. There are many american converts to buddhism or wicca. And, among the key findings of American Religious Identification Survey by City University of New York was that 'the greatest increase in absolute as well as in percentage terms has been among those adults who do not subscribe to any religious identification; their number has more than doubled from 14.3 million in 1990 to 29.4 million in 2001; their proportion has grown from just 8% of the total in 1990 to over 14% in 2001.' That is, the fastest growing religion in the U.S. are people who mark 'No Religion/Atheist/Agnostic'.

Either way, if the trend continues, not only will christians be a minority in the world, but in the US by 2030 at 49.77%. Maybe the religious right is well aware of this and all this effort to get Jesus into every aspect of government is just rightwing christians freaking out and thinking that they'll be oppressed somehow - maybe they think pagans and atheists are going to come looking for payback. It wouldn't be unreasonable, in their minds. They have an extremely distorted view of other people's religious beliefs. Everyone remembers this exchange after the 9/11 attacks (thanks to Rotten.com):

JERRY FALWELL: I agree totally with you that the Lord has protected us so wonderfully these 225 years. And since 1812, this is the first time that we've been attacked on our soil and by far the worst results. And I fear, as Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, said yesterday, that this is only the beginning. And with biological warfare available to these monsters -- the Husseins, the Bin Ladens, the Arafats -- what we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if, in fact -- if, in fact -- God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.

PAT ROBERTSON: Jerry, that's my feeling. I think we've just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven't even begun to see what they can do to the major population.


JERRY FALWELL: The ACLU's got to take a lot of blame for this.


PAT ROBERTSON: Well, yes.


JERRY FALWELL: And I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say: "You helped this happen."


PAT ROBERTSON: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system.


JERRY FALWELL: Pat, did you notice yesterday the ACLU and all the Christ-haters, People For the American Way, NOW, etc. were totally disregarded by the Democrats and the Republicans in both houses of Congress as they went out on the steps and called out on to God in prayer and sang "God Bless America" and said "let the ACLU be hanged". In other words, when the nation is on its knees, the only normal and natural and spiritual thing to do is what we ought to be doing all the time -- calling upon God.


PAT ROBERTSON: Amen.


Many sources will tell you that Falwell apologized for what he said - this isn't true. He said, "I would never blame any human being except the terrorists, and if I left that impression with gays or lesbians or anyone else, I apologize." That's right, he apologized for the fact that people believe he means what he says. He's never apologized for what he said - because he believes every word of it.

And Pat Robertson? According to TruthorFiction.com, " Pat Robertson, on his website, distanced himself from the comments that he had agreed with at the time they were made. He said that during the interview, Falwell suddenly made a '...political statement of blame directed at certain segments of the population that was severe and harsh in tone, and, frankly, not fully understood by the three hosts of The 700 Club who were watching Rev. Falwell on a monitor.' Robertson said he considered the comments 'totally inappropriate' and that critics had taken the words out of context." Where Falwell at least pretended to apologize, Robertson just lied about what he said. Far from 'not being fully understand', Robertson had actually said, ""We have allowed rampant secularism and occult, et cetera, to be broadcast on television. We have permitted somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 to 40 million unborn babies to be slaughtered in our society. We have a Court that has essentially stuck its finger in God's eye and said, 'We're going to legislate you out of the schools, we're going to take your Commandments from off the courthouse steps in various states, we're not going to let little children read the Commandments of God, we're not going to let the Bible be read -- no prayer in our schools.' We have insulted God at the highest levels of our government. And, then we say 'why does this happen?' Well, why its happening is that God Almighty is lifting His protection from us." (Rotten.com again).

Robertson also has said, "It is interesting, that termites don't build things, and the great builders of our nation almost to a man have been Christians, because Christians have the desire to build something. He is motivated by love of man and God, so he builds. The people who have come into (our) institutions (today) are primarily termites. They are into destroying institutions that have been built by Christians, whether it is universities, governments, our own traditions, that we have.... The termites are in charge now, and that is not the way it ought to be, and the time has arrived for a godly fumigation." The guy's a Hitler.

For these people, Jesus is an american. A future where most people in America aren't christian must just be unthinkable to them. So it must be stopped. The strategy is to remake the U.S. into a 'christian nation' by law. They want to create christians by teaching christianity in schools. In fact, at nearly every point a citizen comes in contact with government, they want a christian message to come across as well.

Take the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, headed by Jim Towey. In 2004, Towey admitted that "no direct federal grants from his program had gone to a non-Christian religious group," according to Esther Kaplan, a journalist. And what does Towey's office do? Hand out funds to religious groups - and only religious groups - to provide social services to the public. Need housing assistance? Talk to a christian. Have a drug or alcohol dependency? Talk to a christian. Getting out of prison and headed a halfway house? Talk to a christian. Homeless? Talk to a christian. Hungry? Talk to a christian. Pregnant? Talk to a christian.

The only reason that they haven't tried to hand of the Dept. of Energy to christians is because oil companies are busy with it. What this does is put the government in the position of deciding what is and isn't a 'real' religion. Often, the target of this decision making has been the emerging religion of Wicca. In 2001, the State of Wisconsin hired a wiccan, Rev. Jamyi Witch, to become a prison chaplain. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, "Rep. Scott Walker, R-Wauwatosa, head of the assembly committee that regulates prison, said he was 'offended' by Witch's religion and was looking into whether she had been hired in defiance of the state's hiring freeze.

"Another legislator, Rep. Mike Huebsch, R-West Salem, threatened Thursday to pull funding from the prison chaplain program, calling Witch's hiring 'hocus-pocus' and headlining his press release 'Huebsch burns Waupun witch project.'"

On a national level, when Rep. Bob Barr found out that there were wiccan military chaplains at Fort Hood, Barr said that it and other bases "are sanctioning, if not supporting the practice of witchcraft as a 'religion' by soldiers on military bases" and allowing wiccans to practice their religion on base "sets a dangerous precedent that could easily result in the practice of all sorts of bizarre practices being supported by the military under the rubric of 'religion.'" Clearly, when the government is allowed to decide which religions are legitimate, non-christians are judged harshly, while christians are judged not at all.

--Wisco

11 comments:

proletariat said...

But.. the respondents who refused to even answer the question increased from 4 to 11,000. It seems to be less of declining christianity than other factors such as whose business is it anyway. This type of question today will get a more guarded response from the christian left than in 1990.

It also seems like the surveys used were very different. The 2004 one only had 50,000 respondents.

Wisco said...

I'd argue that the only way that refusals would matter is if there were any reason to believe they were mostly christian. There's no reason to believe that. Most likely, the percentage reflects the the sample in the survey. And the 4:11,000 is supect to me. I'm guessing a typo. That's just such a cultural shift that I think we'd notice it in the culture. I'm not seeing a real resistance among americans to discuss religion.

And the sample size is statistically irrelevant. 50,000 is a huge sample. If you were blindfolded and had to match socks out of a drawer of black and white socks, how many socks would you need to pull a match?

Three. More wouldn't make it 'more certain'.

NewsBlog 5000 said...

I think it's pretty rational to believe that as radical Christians get more exposure, they are going to drive more "Christmas and Easter" Christians away. And the extremists have gotten a lot of exposure over the last few years, what with them having the ear of the government.

I also think that I am not going to let Wisco organize my sock drawer.

Anonymous said...

Sample size is irrelevant?!?!?!?

So, you're saying that if you asked 3 people if they were christians or "other", and got 3 others, you'd conclude no one in the US is a christian? Or if I asked 3 people at a church and they all said "christian", you'd agree that you're one too?

Also, location matters. Ask the same survey in Berkely, CA, Salt Lake City, UT and Brownsville, FL and see the results jump all over the map..

Yikes, what a misconception.

Wisco said...

Sample size is irrelevant?!?!?!?

So, you're saying that if you asked 3 people if they were christians or "other", and got 3 others, you'd conclude no one in the US is a christian? Or if I asked 3 people at a church and they all said "christian", you'd agree that you're one too?


Straw man. Neither sample was three, both were tens of thousands. Once you get up into samples that larger, sample size is irrelevant. Statistically speaking, the percentages would be the same for 50,000 as they would be for a million.

In fact, having had some experience with statistical research in politics, I'd say that a sample of 50,000 is too large and needlessly expensive.

Anonymous said...

So many flaws to this post it's difficult to know where to begin. The most obvious is the assumption that since the rate of Christians dropped over a decade, it'll keep dropping. Highly, highly debateable. The less obvious but far more devastating flaw is the much higher birth rate of Christians, as compared to the non-religious. The overwhelming majority of children don't stray too far from their parents' beliefs, and the simple fact is Christians have way more children than the non-religious. This trend will actually increase thanks to the fast growing Latino population in America, almost all of whom are Roman-Catholic. (A keen irony that the far right is so anti-immigrant, when Mexican immigrants will very likely make America more Christian *and* more conservative.)

Anonymous said...

So if non-christians are growing in the USA...are they more politically active and as a result more politically powerful?
Or do they just not care about politics and have no power?
To me it seems people who are just margianlly anything (religous, educated, rich, etc) are not that interested in getting into the system (politics) and change anything. It seems all these other religous groups are just not playing the game of politics..and those that are playing (fundamentalist christians) and they are taking over the government.

Anonymous said...

So if non-christians are growing in the USA...are they more politically active and as a result more politically powerful?
Or do they just not care about politics and have no power?
To me it seems people who are just margianlly anything (religous, educated, rich, etc) are not that interested in getting into the system (politics) and change anything. It seems all these other religous groups are just not playing the game of politics..and those that are playing (fundamentalist christians) and they are taking over the government.

Wisco said...

So many flaws to this post it's difficult to know where to begin. The most obvious is the assumption that since the rate of Christians dropped over a decade, it'll keep dropping. Highly, highly debateable. The less obvious but far more devastating flaw is the much higher birth rate of Christians, as compared to the non-religious.

LOL! The only way for this make sense is to say that christians are a rising minority. Obviously, that's not the case. Or are you argue that this 'higher birth-rate' for christians (something there's no evidence of, BTW) is a recent phenomenom?

Your 'devastating flaw' is devastatingly flawed.

Anonymous said...

You people are all stupid for arguing about this and need some kind of hobby other blogging mostly because you suck at it.

then again.... thanks for the entertainment.

Wisco said...

Thanks for the input, kid.

Now get back to your Legos.