Source: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
The world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are united in their belief in God and the Prophet Muhammad and are bound together by such religious practices as fasting during the holy month of Ramadan and almsgiving to assist people in need. But they have widely differing views about many other aspects of their faith, including how important religion is to their lives, who counts as a Muslim and what practices are acceptable in Islam, according to a worldwide survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.
Source: U.S. Department of State
To think, believe, or doubt. To speak or pray; to gather or stand apart. Such are the movements of the mind and heart, infinitives that take us beyond the finite. Freedom of religion, like all freedoms of thought and expression, are inherent. Our beliefs help define who we are and serve as a foundation for what we contribute to our societies. However, as the 2011 International Religious Freedom Report documents, too many people live under governments that abuse or restrict freedom of religion. People awaken, work, suffer, celebrate, raise children, and mourn unable to follow the dictates of their faith or conscience. Yet, under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, governments have committed to respect freedom of religion. As President Barack Obama said, they ought to "bear witness and speak out" when violations of religious freedom occur.
With these reports, we bear witness and speak out. We speak against authoritarian governments that repressed forms of expression, including religious freedom. Governments restricted religious freedom in a variety of ways, including registration laws that favored state-sanctioned groups, blasphemy laws, and treatment of religious groups as security threats. The report focuses special attention on key trends such as the impact of political and demographic transitions on religious minorities, who tended to suffer the most in 2011; the effects of conflict on religious freedom; and the rising tide of anti-Semitism. Impacted groups, to name just a few, included Baha’is and Sufis in Iran; Christians in Egypt; Ahmadis in Indonesia and Pakistan; Muslims in a range of countries, including in Europe; Tibetan Buddhists, Christians, and Uighur Muslims in China; and Jews in many parts of the world.
Religious Attendance of Child Welfare-Involved Caregivers and Youth (PDF)
Source: Children and Family Research Center
Research has shown that both caregivers’ and children’s attendance at religious services are associated with improved outcomes for disadvantaged youth, 1 but few studies have examined the role of religion in child welfare populations and no studies have presented national data on religious participation of children involved in child welfare. Religious practice could be an important factor in helping children cope with the trauma, loss, and anxiety associated with child maltreatment, and religious communities often provide material and social support for caregivers and youth. On the other hand, some religious beliefs may negatively affect youth’s well-being (for example a gay youth placed in a conservative Christian foster home). Furthermore, religious dissimilarity in families has been connected to negative outcomes for youth in the general population 2 and foster youth may have religious backgrounds that differ from their foster families. While other aspects of foster home placement such as caregiver race and proximity to the home of origin have been given ample attention, religious attendance among foster youth and their foster care providers remains unexplored. This brief examines religious attendance 3 among youth and caregivers involved in the child welfare system and the relationship between caregiver attendance and youth attendance.
Religion in Prisons: A 50-State Survey of Prison Chaplains (PDF)
Source: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
“Religion in Prisons: A 50-State Survey of Prison Chaplains” presents a rare window into religion behind bars. Although chaplains, like all observers, undoubtedly bring their own perspectives and predilections to bear, they also occupy a valuable vantage point as correctional workers who have regular, often positive interactions with inmates and take a strong interest in the role of religion in inmates’ lives.
The survey covers a lot of ground, asking chaplains to describe their daily role in the prisons and to rate their job satisfaction. In addition, we asked them to list the tasks on which they spend the most time and the tasks they consider most important – two lists that are not always the same. We sought their assessments of religious volunteers who come into the prisons to work with inmates, as well as their perspectives on the strengths and weaknesses of the correctional system, the quality and reach of rehabilitation programs and possible ways of cutting costs.
We also asked for their impressions about religious life in prisons, including the religious composition of the inmate population, the amount of proselytizing and conversion that take place, which religious groups seem to be growing or shrinking, and how much religious extremism they perceive in the prisons where they work. At several key points in the survey questionnaire – which was administered either electronically or, for those who preferred it, by paper – we gave the chaplains an opportunity to elaborate on their views and experiences in their own words.
Their answers suggest that religion in prisons may be quite different, in some ways, from religion in American society at large. For example, chaplains indicate that there is a visible presence in some prisons of small religious groups that many Americans may never have heard of, such as Asatru, Odinism and the Moorish Science Temple of America. (For brief definitions, see the Glossary on page 101.) A number of chaplains also think that some inmates claim to belong to particular religious groups solely to obtain privileges or benefits, such as kosher food. But, on the whole, chaplains had many positive things to say about the role of religion in rehabilitating inmates. Most are also very happy in their jobs. Though the picture that emerges is complicated and sometimes surprising, our hope is that the survey will contribute to a better understanding of the role that chaplains – and, more broadly, religion – play in the lives of inmates.
About 3% of the world’s population has migrated across international borders. While that may seem like a small percentage, it represents a lot of people. If the world’s 214 million international migrants were counted as one nation, they would constitute the fifth most populous country on the globe, just behind Indonesia and ahead of Brazil.Faith on the Move, a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, focuses on the religious affiliation of international migrants, examining patterns of migration among seven major groups: Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, adherents of other religions and the religiously unaffiliated.
Mississippi Is Most Religious U.S. StateSource: Gallup
Mississippi is the most religious U.S. state, and is one of eight states where Gallup classifies at least half of the residents as "very religious." At the other end of the spectrum, Vermont and New Hampshire are the least religious states, and are two of the five states — along with Maine, Massachusetts, and Alaska — where less than 30% of all residents are very religious.
Religion in Prisons: A 50-State Survey of Prison Chaplains
Source: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
From the perspective of the nation’s professional prison chaplains, America’s state penitentiaries are a bustle of religious activity. More than seven-in-ten (73%) state prison chaplains say that efforts by inmates to proselytize or convert other inmates are either very common (31%) or somewhat common (43%). About three-quarters of the chaplains say that a lot (26%) or some (51%) religious switching occurs among inmates in the prisons where they work. Many chaplains report growth from religious switching in the numbers of Muslims and Protestant Christians, in particular.
Overwhelmingly, state prison chaplains consider religious counseling and other religion-based programming an important aspect of rehabilitating prisoners. Nearly three-quarters of the chaplains (73%), for example, say they consider access to religion-related programs in prison to be “absolutely critical” to successful rehabilitation of inmates. And 78% say they consider support from religious groups after inmates are released from prison to be absolutely critical to inmates’ successful rehabilitation and re-entry into society. Among chaplains working in prisons that have religion-related rehabilitation or re-entry programs, more than half (57%) say the quality of such programs has improved over the last three years and six-in-ten (61%) say participation in such programs has gone up.
At the same time, a sizable minority of chaplains say that religious extremism is either very common (12%) or somewhat common (29%) among inmates. Religious extremism is reported by the chaplains as especially common among Muslim inmates (including followers of the Nation of Islam and the Moorish Science Temple of America) and, to a substantial but lesser degree, among followers of pagan or earth-based religions such as Odinism and various forms of Wicca. (See Glossary.) An overwhelming majority of chaplains, however, report that religious extremism seldom poses a threat to the security of the facility in which they work, with only 4% of chaplains saying religious extremism among inmates “almost always” poses a threat to prison security and an additional 19% saying it “sometimes” poses a threat.