Archive for the ‘education’ Category

The Lord is their shepherd: New study reveals who reads the Bible – and why

Favorite biblical book: The Psalms. Percentage of Americans who read the Bible on their own: About half. And far and away the No. 1 reason they pick up Scripture is for personal prayer and devotion. A major new study on American Bible reading offers insights into how, why and when Americans read Scripture outside of worship.

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What price a religious calling? Record seminary debt shows need for financial as well as divine guidance

Record seminary debt and rising tuition costs are forcing both prospective clergy and theological schools to reconsider the price of a religious calling. More than a quarter of students graduating in 2011 with a Master of Divinity degree had more than $40,000 in theological debt and 5 percent were more than $80,000 in the red, a new study found. Many of these students discovered that not only they or their spouses had to moonlight to make ends meet, but some had to choose another job besides the ministry to pay the bills.

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Homosexuality and the pews: Seven signs influencing congregational acceptance of gays and lesbians

Much of the conflict over issues of sexuality takes place at the national level. But individual congregations, not denominations, ultimately decide how gay and lesbian worshippers will be accepted in religious communities. New studies are providing insights into which congregations are more likely to be welcoming to gays and lesbians, and what this means for the future.

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Five hopeful signs for U.S. congregations

How tough have times become for religious leaders? Benedict XVI became the first pope to resign in six centuries, declaring both strength of mind and body are necessary to oversee the church “in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith.” Yet there are also more hopeful trends about the health and mission of houses of worship. The latest wave of the U.S. Congregational Life Survey, now available for download and exploration on the Association of Religion Data Archives, shares elements of growth and ongoing strengths in congregations.

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Amid violent protests and provocative films, religion journalists create global path to understanding

The recent upheaval associated with the release of a crude, anti-Islamic film shows how issues relating to faith can cross borders with startling speed and consequences. Now is the time for the type of knowledgeable, on-the-ground reporting that provides careful international perspective regarding the complex motives behind these events. Yet too often, limited by cultural biases, this broader understanding gets lost at home and abroad amid advocacy journalism and pack reporting that reinforce popular misconceptions or fears of religious minorities and religion in public life. But here is the great news. Change is coming with the new International Association of Religion Journalists.

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The high cost of service: Student debt burdens religious workers

As long as the money from federal loans rolls in, many seminarians find it hard to think ahead to how they are going to pay back the $40,000, $60,000 or $80,000 or more that is their chunk of a student debt tab that has reached $1 trillion. Yet what began as a critical problem for a small percentage of prospective clergy is reaching alarming levels as seminary students get swept up in a national crisis, new research indicates. It is not enough that growing numbers of clergy with burdensome loans report having to put off for years the ability to get married and start a family or buy a house. Now, graduates wanting to explore a religious vocation may be “too poor to take the vow of poverty,” one research center commented.

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American dreamers: Keeping economic faith amid the recession

The American Dream lives on in the hearts of many of the nation’s most devout believers despite the prolonged recession and continued high unemployment. More than half of Americans who are convinced God has a plan for their lives still strongly believe that, “Anything is possible for those who work hard,” according to the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey. This belief and other endorsements of free-market economics may hold workplace benefits for individuals, but also could have an impact on the larger debates that have gridlocked government over whether to respond to the recession with less or more government intervention to meet the needs of struggling Americans.

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