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Archive for the ‘Buddhist’ Category

Experiencing is believing: Odyssey into the heart of American religion punctures stereotypes

Forget the popular cultural images from shows such as HBO’s “Big Love” that revive stereotypes linking Mormonism with polygamy or the ubiquitous images in the news associating Islam with terrorism. Look past the cultural crossfire that lumps religious liberals and conservatives into separate boxes defined by extremist political and social agendas. The reality, as presented in a new book by two respected scholars, is that if you walk into a mosque, synagogue, temple or church next weekend, you will most likely find groups of believers in prayer and meditation seeking spiritual growth.

East or West: Talk is cheap when it comes to religious freedoms

When it comes to guaranteeing freedom of religion, the lesson from extensive global research is that it matters much less what nations say in their constitutions than what they are prepared to do to enforce those laws. As new leaders in Egypt and Libya seek to protect hard-won freedoms, and governments from France to the United States struggle with religious diversity, two studies presented at the recent annual meeting of the Association for the Sociology of Religion in Las Vegas illustrate the challenges ahead. One sign of hope: Even if you do not start out loving them, getting to know your neighbor goes a long way to limiting prejudice, research shows.

Knowing your neighbor is powerful force for civility

Americans have long feared religious groups they do not know. Islam and Buddhism are among the least liked religious expressions in America today. New research, however, indicates it does not have to be this way. Getting to know evangelicals, atheists, Muslims and Buddhists as individuals leads to greater acceptance of people of diverse beliefs, Robert Putnam of Harvard University and David Campbell of the University of Notre Dame suggest in their new book “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us.”

Rising religious tide in China overwhelms atheist doctrine

One of the last great efforts at state-sponsored atheism is a failure. No more than 15 percent of adults in the world’s most populous country are “real atheists;” 85 percent of the Chinese either hold some religious beliefs or practice some kind of religion, according to the Chinese Spiritual Life Survey. In a nation with few sources of independent data on religion, the spiritual life survey represents one of the best pictures to date of the Chinese religious landscape.

Studies on ‘honorable suicide,’ women clergy challenge stereotypes

Two studies presented at sociology meetings in Atlanta earlier this month — one exploring American Christian and Japanese Buddhist attitudes toward “honorable suicide“ and a second looking at the progress of clergywomen — offer interesting glimpses into the changing expressions of faith in history. One study found evidence the steps forward women clergy have made in obtaining more desirable pulpits are balanced by continuing concerns faced by many of their colleagues stuck under a stained-glass ceiling. The other study was more surprising. Even to its principal investigator.

Not everyone wins, but all faiths grow in competitive marketplace

The more competition, the better for American religion. Major immigration from Asia, the growth into the thousands of religious movements within and outside the church and an active and influential secular community have not stopped the growth of the nation’s largest faith — Christianity. Instead, the expanding religion marketplace is proving to be a win-win situation for all faiths, according to J. Gordon Melton, founding director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara, Calif.

America is not No. 1 in religious diversity

Forgive President Obama his misstatement that America has one of the world’s largest populations of Muslims. He was only reflecting a larger lack of knowledge of world religion that has allowed some in the fields of religion, academics and the media to promote the ethnocentric idea that the United States is the most religiously diverse nation in the world. The problem is, like many other claims of American triumphalism from the left or the right, it is just not true.

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