Let's see, in my blog I have discussed Sex, Drugs, and Politics. I guess Religion is the only taboo I need to jump into. And yesterday's news gave me the perfect grist for my rant mill.
Have you seen the new Pew Survey on the Religious Landscape of America? It is fascinating! It also describes an America that I am not sure that I live in. Of those surveyed, 70% of those who identified themselves as being with a particular religion agreed with the statement that "many religions can lead to eternal life." I find that interesting as most of the people I know who are religious and identify themselves with a particular church are fairly dogmatic in their beliefs.
Another surprising survey result was that while 90% believe in God in one shape or another, only 60% of those believe in the classical bronze-age sky god that I remember being taught about in my catechism classes. A quarter of the respondents expressed the view that God may be an impersonal force... a zeitgeist, an amorphous thing rather than the bearded grand-dad figure floating on a cloud that you're likely to see in the popular religious artwork.
Not surprisingly, the percentage of people who expressed absolute certainty of the existence of God (at or above 90%) are the groups that tend to be the most vocal or evangelical. The Jehovah's Witnesses top the list at 93%, followed by a three-way tie of the evangelical sects, historically black churches, and Mormons.
For someone who professes to being an Existential Catholic (I believe in Catholicism as a concept and think that the underlying ethical code they teach is a fundamentally good one but have a hard time swallowing the dogma of the church and the evolving "truth" they peddle) I was not surprised that the strongest beliefs tend to be held by the people that seem to always be in the news protesting Abortion, Gay Rights, or Liberalization of anything they see as "Sinful." What surprised me in the survey the most was that nearly one-in-five respondents identified themselves as being either Atheist, Agnostic, or otherwise unaffiliated with a particular church.
In an America that was founded on Protestant beliefs but religious cast-offs from the old world who came here to found a country where they could practice their religions without fear, it is to be expected that the US would have a decidedly religious bent. I know a lot more of these "unaffiliated" people from the UK than I do from the US. It surprises me, that there are so many out here. They are certainly not a vocal minority!
Wherever you are today, I hope you will have a great day!
Don Bergquist - June 24, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA