《英语国家国情与文化-美国》PDF电子版教材-U7-精简版

发布时间:2023-04-19 02:04:45浏览次数:87
English Speaking Countries Today – America Unit Seven 1 Unit Seven Core Text Religious Identification in the U.S.: How American adults view themselves "The proportion of the [American] population that can be classified as Christian has declined from 86% in 1990 to 77% in 2001." ARIS Study. " 'We the people' of the United States now form the most profusely religious nation on earth." Diana Eck. "There does not seem to be revival taking place in America. Whether that is measured by church attendance, born again status, or theological purity, the statistics simply do not reflect a surge of any noticeable proportions." George Barna. "...the number of Protestants soon will slip below 50 percent of the nation's population." National Opinion Research Center's General Social Survey, 2004. A Shift Away From Christianity and Other Organized Religions The United States appears to be going through an unprecedented change in religious practices. Large numbers of American adults are disaffiliating themselves from Christianity and from other organized religions. Since World War II, this process had been observed in other countries, like the U.K., other European countries, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. But, until recently, affiliation with Christianity had been at a high level -- about 87% -- and stable in the U.S. Polling data from the 2001 ARIS study, indicate that 81% of American adults identify themselves with a specific religion, while 76.5% (159 million) of Americans identify themselves as Christian. This is a major slide from 86.2% in 1990. Identification with Christianity has suffered a loss of 9.7 percentage points in 11 years -- about 0.9 percentage points per year. This decline is identical to that observed in Canada between 1981 and 2001. If this trend has continued, then at the present time (May, 2007) only 71% of American adults consider themselves Christians and this percentage will dip below 70% in 2008. By about the year 2042, non-Christians will outnumber the Christians in the U.S. Meanwhile, 52% of Americans identified themselves as Protestant, 24.5% as Roman Catholic, 1.3% as Jewish and 0.5% as Muslim. The fastest growing religion (in terms of percentage) is Wicca – a Neopagan religion that is sometimes referred to as Witchcraft. Numbers of adherents went from 8,000 in 1990 to 134,000 in 2001. Their numbers of adherents are doubling about every 30 months. English Speaking Countries Today – America Unit Seven 2 Wiccans in Australia have a very similar growth pattern, from fewer than 2,000 in 1996 to 9,000 in 2001. In Canada, Wiccans and other Neopagans showed the greatest percentage growth of any faith group. They totaled 21,080 members in 1991, an increase of 281% from 1990. A USA Today/Gallup Poll in January of 2002 showed that almost half of American adults appear to be alienated from organized religion. If current trends continue, most adults will not call themselves religious within a few years. Current results showed that about 50% consider themselves religious (down from 54% in December, 1999), about 33% consider themselves "spiritual but not religious" (up from 30%) and about 10% regard themselves as neither spiritual or religious. Among those who consider themselves ―spiritual,‖ 14.1% do not follow any organized religion. This is an unusually rapid increase -- almost a doubling -- from only 8% in 1990. There are more Americans who say they are not affiliated with any organized religion than there are Episcopalians, Methodists, and Lutherans taken together. The unaffiliated vary from a low of 3% in North Dakota to 25% in Washington State. "The six states with the highest percentage of people saying they have no religion are all Western states, with the exception of Vermont at 22%." Is the U.S. Losing Its Protestant Majority? Prior to 1492, the entire population of what was to become the United States of America and Canada followed about 500 forms of Native American religions. With the influx of immigrants from Europe and the genocide of the native population, the U.S. became predominately Protestant Christian by the time of the Revolutionary War (1775-1783). The percentage of Protestants in the U.S. has been diluted because of immigration from Roman Catholic countries, more recent immigration from the Middle East and Asia, and the rise in numbers of agnostics, atheists, humanists and other non-theists. From 1972 to 1993, the General Social Survey of the National Opinion Research Center found that Protestants constituted about 63% of the population. This declined to 52% in 2002. Protestants are believed to have slipped to a minority position sometime between 2004 and 2006 for the first time since the year 1776. "Respondents were defined as Protestant if they said they were members of a Protestant denomination, such as Episcopal Church or Southern Baptist Convention. The category included members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and members of independent Protestant churches." English Speaking Countries Today – America Unit Seven 3 However, the data may be deceiving. Some subjects simply reported themselves as "Christians" and were not counted as Protestants since they were not affiliated with a Protestant denomination. People Who Walk Away From Organized Religion Rodney Stark, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington and a co-author of "Acts of Faith: Explaining the Human Side of Religion" commented: "People who believe in God — and they do — who pray — and they do — are not secular, they are just unchurched. They've never been to church and, in many cases, their parents didn't go either." Mark Galli, managing editor of the Evangelical magazine Christianity Today, said: "It's a cliché now to call institutional religion 'oppressive, patriarchal, out of date and out of touch.' So what else is new? I feel sorry for those people who don't think there's anything greater than themselves. It must feel like a lonely and frightening world for them. Lone-ranger spirituality is not conducive to taking us to the depths God designed us to go. It leaves out the communal dimension of faith. If you leave out the irritations, frustrations and joy that community entails, you miss something about God." Religious Data Reliable religious information is hard to come by, for several reasons. Some religions count every person that has been baptized into the denomination as a member. Many individuals change their religion later in life and thus may be double or triple-counted. Other religions have no accurate accounting system. For example, Wiccans and other Neopagans are almost completely decentralized; probably half are solitary practitioners who do not belong to a coven. Estimates of their total number in the U.S. vary over a 20:1 ratio. Some religions, like Christian Science and the Church of Satan have a policy of not releasing membership statistics to the public. Some faith groups count only confirmed, baptized or initiated members; others count total adherents. Some count only adults; others include children. There is an enormous range of estimates of the number of Muslims in the U.S. The ARIS study in 2001, estimates "a national total population, including children, of up to 2.8 million." However, the Council on American-Islamic Relations states that "There are an estimated 7 million Muslims in America." English Speaking Countries Today – America Unit Seven 4 Many U.S. sources of religious information include the major religions -- Christianity, Islam, Judaism -- and many of their denominations or sub-divisions. But they often ignore what might be called "underground" religions. These are religions that often keep a very low profile to avoid conflict attacks from an uninformed public -- religions like Santeria, Vodun, and Wicca. Many sources also ignore an amorphous group who may variously describe themselves as Agnostics, Atheists, Ethical Culturalists, Freethinkers, Humanists, or Secularists. In addition, there are also the "none of the aboves" -- individuals who may believe in God and may follow the Golden Rule, but regard themselves as not being part of any organized religious group. Although the Canadian census does collect religious information from its citizens, the U.S. decennial census does not. Fortunately, the The Graduate Center of the City University of New York has conducted two major surveys in recent years, which fill in many of the gaps. About the Surveys The Graduate Center conducted a National Survey of Religious Identification (NSRI) in 1990. It questioned 113,723 individuals about how they viewed themselves religiously. A similar American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) was conducted between February and April of 2001. The latter included telephone interviews of 50,281 persons who were 18 years of age or older. Phone calls were limited to residential households from the contiguous 48 states. Often, data was obtained for two spouses or partners in the home. For a reason that is unclear, Hawaii and Alaska were left out of the survey. Additional questions were added, about religious beliefs, affiliation and change. Although ARIS involves less than half the number of subjects than NSRI, it is still very accurate; ARIS's margin of error is ±0.3 percentage points for the main questions. Additional questions were asked at a smaller sample of 17,000 households; the margin of error for those questions is ±0.77%. The U.S. census relies on the Aris study when it reports on religious makeup of the country. There are some concerns about this, and any other, telephone survey, for various reasons. The accuracy of data for "underground" religious groups is suspect. Many followers of Wicca, Druidism, other Neopagan traditions, Santeria, Vodun and similar faith groups are reluctant to reveal their religious faith to a stranger over the telephone. Many of the public fear them because of the high levels of misinformation spread about their religions. They in turn fear attacks, loss of job or loss of accommodation if they are open about their religion. A large number of persons declined to reveal their religion. This rose from 2.3% in 1990 to 5.4% in 2001. Many subjects gave their religion simply as "Christian," "Protestant," "Evangelical," or "Born-again." This lowers the accuracy of data for individual Christian denominations. English Speaking Countries Today – America Unit Seven 5 Cultural and Ethnic Groups Certain cultural groups tend to be more religious than others. Hispanics consist of the largest minority group in the U.S. Although many assume that they are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, their religious identification is quite diverse: 57% Roman Catholic, 22% Protestant, 5% other religion; 12% no organized religion. Jews in America consist of about 5.3 million adults: 53% followers of Judaism, 26% of other religions, and 20% of no organized religion. Native Americans were found to consist of 20% Baptist, 17% Roman Catholic, 17% of no organized religion, 3% tribal religion. General point of view: Religious or Secular: A random selection of Americans were asked to rate their general outlook, ranging from religious to secular: Outlook All adults Young (18 - 34) Senior (over 64) Religious 37% 27% 47% Somewhat religious 38 43 34 Somewhat secular 6 9 3 Secular 10 14 7 Don't know/ refused 9 7 9 Classifications of Christians One source estimates that there are 34,000 separate faith groups in the world that consider themselves to be Christian. In fact, many consider themselves alone to be the only "true" Christian church. Within North America, there are in excess of 2,000 faith groups that regard themselves as Christian. There are lots of different ways in which individual Christians and faith groups can be categorized. A few examples are on the basis of:  History: There are four to seven meta-groups: (Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestantism...)  Theological and social views: There are three main wings: (conservative, mainline and liberal); some refer to them as two (conservative and mainline) or (early and emerging Christian paradigm)  Past schisms: There are fifteen or so religious families, (Adventist, Baptist, Lutheran, Reform...)  Denominations, (from the Amish to The Way), and  Specific belief (Arminianism, British Israelism, Calvinism...) English Speaking Countries Today – America Unit Seven 6  A group of beliefs: One example is the Barna Research Group; they sort persons who regard themselves as Christian into a number of sub-groups. People Who Have Switched Denominations or Religion The ARIS survey asked the subjects whether they had changed their religious identification during their lifetime. Some results:  About 16% of adults have changed their identification.  For the largest group, the change was abandoning all religion.  Baptists picked up the largest number of any religion: 4.4 million. But they also lost 4.6 million.  Roman Catholics lost the greatest number, 9.5 million. However, they also picked up 4.3 million. The pollsters commented: "Some groups such as Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses appear to attract a large number of converts (in-switchers), but also nearly as large a number of apostates (out-switchers). It is also interesting to note that Buddhists also fall into this category of what one might call high-turnover religious groups." Inter-faith Marriages The survey found that 22% of couples reported that they identified with different faith groups. Defining the term "couple" broadly to include both married and living together partners, some 28 million adults live in a mixed religion household. Percentages range from a high of 42% for Episcopalian to a low of 12% for Mormons. Adults for whom over 30% live in a mixed-faith home include Buddhists, Non-denominational and Jehovah's Witnesses. Adults for whom fewer than 20% live in mixed-faith homes are Baptist, Churches of Christ, Assemblies of God, and Church of God. One problem with these data is that a couple consisting of, say, a Southern Baptist and United Church of Christ member would be considered as being of the same religion, and not in a inter-faith relationship. Yet the theological and social beliefs of the two might well be as different as between a Methodist and Muslim spouse. Retaining the Young It is common for young adults to drift away from the faith group of their youth. Some never return. The large liberal and mainline Christian denominations seem to lose large numbers in this way. Only between 10 and 12% of those identifying with the English Speaking Countries Today – America Unit Seven 7 Congregational, Episcopalian, Methodist, Presbyterian, and United Church denominations are between the ages of 18 and 29. Islam and Buddhism appear to fare the best in this area; 56 and 58% of persons identifying with these religions are in this age group. Political Affiliation Adults identifying with a specific faith group are almost evenly split among Republicans, Democrats and Independents. But those who do not identify with a religion are 43% Independent, 39% Democrat, and 17% Republican. 59% of Assemblies of God followers prefer the Republican party; only 13% of religious Jews and 9% of Buddhists agree. 56% of Jews prefer the Democratic party. Geographical Distribution of Faith Groups Over 40% of adults in many Northeastern states identify with the Roman Catholic Church: Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Vermont. Baptists number over 40% in Southern states such as Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Those who identify with "no religion" are in the majority in some Northwestern states, including Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. Graphical State-by-state Display of ARIS Data USA Today has a very informative graphic of religious affiliation across the U.S. See: http://www.usatoday.com/graphics/news/gra/gnoreligion/flash.htm
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