Archive for the ‘Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life’ Category

Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion

September 20, 2012 Comments off

Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion
Source: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

A rising tide of restrictions on religion spread across the world between mid-2009 and mid-2010, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Restrictions on religion rose in each of the five major regions of the world – including in the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa, the two regions where overall restrictions previously had been declining.

The share of countries with high or very high restrictions on religious beliefs and practices rose from 31% in the year ending in mid-2009 to 37% in the year ending in mid-2010. Because some of the most restrictive countries are very populous, three-quarters of the world’s approximately 7 billion people live in countries with high government restrictions on religion or high social hostilities involving religion, up from 70% a year earlier.

The World’s Muslims: Unity and Diversity

August 9, 2012 Comments off

The World’s Muslims: Unity and Diversity

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.

Religion in Prisons: A 50-State Survey of Prison Chaplains

July 11, 2012 Comments off

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.

Faith on the Move: The Religious Affiliation of International Migrants

April 11, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
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.

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Religion in Prisons: A 50-State Survey of Prison Chaplains

March 22, 2012 Comments off

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.

Trends in Party Identification of Religious Groups

February 8, 2012 Comments off

Trends in Party Identification of Religious Groups

Source:  Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
As the 2012 presidential election approaches, the partisan affiliations of the electorate have shifted significantly since 2008. In surveys conducted in 2011 by thePew Research Center for the People & the Press, 34% of registered voters described themselves as Democrats, down four points compared with 2008 (38%). Over the same period, the percentage of voters describing themselves as Republicans has held steady at 28%, while the total saying they are politically independent or have no partisan preference has risen four points (from 34% in 2008 to 38% in 2011).
The Democrats’ decline is especially apparent when the partisan leanings of independents are taken into account. Though there has been no change in the share of the electorate identifying with the GOP, there has been a significant increase in the number of Republican-leaning independents (from 11% in 2008 to 16% in 2011). Taken together, the share of voters who say they are Republican or that they lean toward the GOP has grown from 39% in 2008 to 43% in 2011, while the number saying they identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party has declined from 51% to 48%. A 12-point Democratic advantage in 2008 has shrunk to just five points heading into the 2012 presidential election year. This marks a continuation of a trend first observed in 2010, when 43% of the electorate supported or leaned toward the GOP while 47% favored the Democratic Party. (For a detailed analysis of longer-term trends in party identification and of changes in the partisan preferences of a variety of demographic groups…
A new analysis shows that the share of voters identifying with or leaning toward the GOP has either grown or held steady in every major religious group. This includes both religious groups that are part of the GOP’s traditional constituency as well as some groups that have tended to be more aligned with the Democratic Party, including Jewish voters. In general, the pattern among religious groups mirrors that among the electorate as a whole; the number of voters who identify as a Democrat has declined, while the number saying they lean toward the GOP has risen.

Mormons in America: Certain in Their Beliefs, Uncertain of Their Place in Society

January 18, 2012 Comments off

Mormons in America: Certain in Their Beliefs, Uncertain of Their Place in Society
Source: Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life

With a Mormon candidate among the front-runners for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, a musical about Mormons playing on Broadway and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) running television ads about ordinary Mormons, America is in the midst of what some media accounts have dubbed a “Mormon moment.” But how do Mormons themselves feel about the media spotlight, the election campaign and their place in America? A major new survey finds a mixed picture: Many Mormons feel they are misunderstood, discriminated against and not accepted by other Americans as part of mainstream society. Yet, at the same time, a majority of Mormons think that acceptance of Mormonism is rising. Overwhelmingly, they are satisfied with their lives and content with their communities. And most say they think the country is ready to elect a Mormon president.

These are among the findings of a comprehensive survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life of more than 1,000 Mormons across the country – the first of its kind ever published by a non-LDS research organization. Previous studies, including the Pew Forum’s 2007 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, have found that Mormons make up slightly less than 2% of the U.S. public.

Six-in-ten Mormons (62%) say the American people as a whole are uninformed about Mormonism. Nearly half (46%) say that Mormons face a lot of discrimination in the U.S. today – which is higher than the percentage that says the same about blacks (31%) and atheists (13%). Two-thirds (68%) say the American people as a whole do not see Mormonism as part of mainstream American society. And when asked to describe in their own words the most important problems facing Mormons living in the United States today, 56% cite misperceptions about Mormonism, discrimination, lack of acceptance in American society and the like.

Yet most U.S. Mormons also think acceptance of Mormonism is on the rise, with 63% saying the American people are becoming more likely to see Mormonism as part of mainstream society. And 56% of those surveyed say the American people are ready for a Mormon president.

Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population

December 20, 2011 Comments off

Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian PopulationSource: Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life

The number of Christians around the world has more than tripled in the last 100 years, from about 600 million in 1910 to more than 2 billion in 2010. But the world’s overall population also has risen rapidly, from an estimated 1.8 billion in 1910 to 6.9 billion in 2010. As a result, Christians make up about the same portion of the world’s population today (32%) as they did a century ago (35%).

This apparent stability, however, masks a momentous shift. Although Europe and the Americas still are home to a majority of the world’s Christians (63%), that share is much lower than it was in 1910 (93%). And the proportion of Europeans and Americans who are Christian has dropped from 95% in 1910 to 76% in 2010 in Europe as a whole, and from 96% to 86% in the Americas as a whole. At the same time, Christianity has grown enormously in subSaharan

Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, where there were relatively few Christians at the beginning of the 20th century.

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Religion & Politics 2012

November 23, 2011 Comments off

Religion & Politics 2012
Source: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

Many Americans continue to see the Mormon faith as unfamiliar and different. Half say they know little or nothing about Mormonism, half say it is a Christian religion while a third say it is not, and roughly two-thirds believe Mormonism is “very different” from their own beliefs. There has been virtually no change in these impressions over the past four years.

About half of all voters, and 60% of evangelical Republicans, know that Mitt Romney is a Mormon. The former Massachusetts governor’s religion has implications for his nomination run but not for the general election, should he be nominated as his party’s standard bearer.

White evangelical Protestants – a key element of the GOP electoral base – are more inclined than the public as a whole to view Mormonism as a non-Christian faith. And this view is linked to opinions about Romney: Republicans who say Mormonism is not a Christian religion are less likely to support Romney for the GOP nomination and offer a less favorable assessment of him generally. But they seem prepared to overwhelmingly back him in a run against Obama in the general election.

These are the principal findings from a new national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, conducted Nov. 9-14 among 2,001 adults, including 1,576 registered voters. In the race for the GOP nomination, Romney trails Herman Cain by nine points (26% to 17%) among white evangelical Republican and Republican-leaning voters. Romney leads among white mainline Protestant Republicans (26% to 17% over Cain) and runs about even with Cain among white Catholic Republican voters (26% Romney, 23% Cain).

Rising Restrictions on Religion

August 9, 2011 Comments off

Rising Restrictions on Religion
Source: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

Restrictions on religious beliefs and practices rose between mid-2006 and mid-2009 in 23 of the world’s 198 countries (12%), decreased in 12 countries (6%) and remained essentially unchanged in 163 countries (82%), according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Because several countries with increasing restrictions on religion are very populous, however, the increases affected a much larger share of people than of states. More than 2.2 billion people – nearly a third (32%) of the world’s total population of 6.9 billion – live in countries where either government restrictions on religion or social hostilities involving religion rose substantially over the three-year period studied. Only about 1% of the world’s population lives in countries where government restrictions or social hostilities declined.

Among the world’s 25 most populous countries – which account for about 75% of the world’s total population – restrictions on religion substantially increased in eight countries and did not substantially decrease in any. In China, Nigeria, Russia, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Vietnam, the increases were due primarily to rising levels of social hostilities involving religion. In Egypt and France, the increases were mainly the result of government restrictions. The rest of the 25 most populous countries, including the United States, did not experience substantial changes in either social hostilities or government-imposed restrictions.

Global Survey of Evangelical Protestant Leaders

July 27, 2011 Comments off

Global Survey of Evangelical Protestant Leaders
Source: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

Although its historical roots are mostly in Northern Europe and North America, evangelical Protestantism is a global phenomenon today. In 1910, by one estimate, there were about 80 million evangelicals, and more than 90% of them lived in Europe and North America. By 2010, the number of evangelicals had risen to at least 260 million, and most lived outside Europe or North America. Indeed, the “Global South” (sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and most of Asia) is home to more evangelicals today than the “Global North” (Europe, North America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand).

As the evangelical movement has grown and spread around the globe over the past century, it has become enormously diverse, ranging from Anglicans in Africa, to Baptists in Russia, to independent house churches in China, to Pentecostals in Latin America. And this diversity, in turn, gives rise to numerous questions. How much do evangelicals around the world have in common? What unites them? What divides them? Do leading evangelicals in the Global South see eye-to-eye with those in the Global North on what is essential to their faith, what is important but not essential and what is simply incompatible with evangelical Christianity?

To help answer these kinds of questions, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life conducted a survey of participants in the Third Lausanne Congress of World Evangelization. The congress takes its name from a worldwide gathering of evangelical leaders convened by the Rev. Billy Graham in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1974.

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Churches in Court

April 6, 2011 Comments off

Churches in Court
Source: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

American religious institutions have been at the center of many legal controversies in recent years. The Roman Catholic Church, for instance, has been fighting a very public and contentious legal battle over whether it can be held accountable for employing priests who sexually abuse minors. The Episcopal Church also has been caught up in a series of legal disputes, most of them over the ownership of church property.

These and related lawsuits raise complex constitutional questions that have been troubling American courts for more than a century: Do the First Amendment’s religion clauses — which guarantee religious liberty and prohibit all laws “respecting the establishment of religion” — bestow a unique legal status on religious organizations that puts some of their decisions and actions beyond the reach of civil laws? To put it another way, are legal disputes involving churches and other religious institutions constitutionally different from those involving their secular counterparts, and if so, how?

These questions have been raised in four different types of court cases — property disputes, employment of clergy, treatment or discipline of members, and misconduct by employees of religious organizations.

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The Tea Party, Religion and Social Issues

February 27, 2011 Comments off

The Tea Party, Religion and Social Issues
Source: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

he Tea Party movement clearly played a role in rejuvenating the Republican Party in 2010, helping the GOP take control of the House of Representatives and make gains in the Senate. Tea Party supporters made up 41% of the electorate on Nov. 2, and 86% of them voted for Republican House candidates, according to exit polls. But the precise nature of the Tea Party has been less clear. Is it solely a movement to reduce the size of government and cut taxes, as its name — some people refer to it as the Taxed Enough Already party — implies? Or do its supporters share a broader set of conservative positions on social as well as economic issues? Does the movement draw support across the religious spectrum? Or has the religious right “taken over” the Tea Party, as some commentators have suggested?

A new analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that Tea Party supporters tend to have conservative opinions not just about economic matters, but also about social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. In addition, they are much more likely than registered voters as a whole to say that their religion is the most important factor in determining their opinions on these social issues. And they draw disproportionate support from the ranks of white evangelical Protestants.

The analysis shows that most people who agree with the religious right also support the Tea Party. But support for the Tea Party is not synonymous with support for the religious right. An August 2010 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that nearly half of Tea Party supporters (46%) had not heard of or did not have an opinion about “the conservative Christian movement sometimes known as the religious right”; 42% said they agree with the conservative Christian movement and roughly one-in-ten (11%) said they disagree.3 More generally, the August poll found greater familiarity with and support for the Tea Party movement (86% of registered voters had heard at least a little about it at the time and 27% expressed agreement with it) than for the conservative Christian movement (64% had heard of it and 16% expressed support for it).


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