Archive for the ‘mainline’ Category

What schism? Sexuality issues rarely create serious conflict in congregations

For all the furor whipped up in denominational politics and cultural debates over issues such as same-sex marriage, little evidence exists that they make a critical difference in the vast majority of local congregations. Studies indicate that disputes over gay rights are not a major source of conflict in local churches. Those worshipers for whom issues of sexuality are a major concern tend to gravitate toward houses of worship that embrace their views, researchers note.

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Catholic churches most likely to be on the front lines of issues from abortion to poverty

The nation’s largest religious body is also by far the most likely to have its congregations take to the streets in public demonstrations or lobby the halls of power on moral issues, a new study finds. While Catholics were most active on the abortion issue, they also were more likely than other groups to lobby and demonstrate on a wide range of issues, from combating poverty to advocating for immigration reform.

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As black-white gap widens, Americans do not want to talk about race

New findings from the second wave of a major study on religion and race lay bare the dramatic and growing gap in racial attitudes and experiences in America. We do not live in a post-racial nation, the 2012 Portraits of American Life Study suggests, but in a land of two Americas divided by race, and less willing than ever to find a common ground of understanding.

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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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The ties that may not bind: Race, religion and marriage

In a scene from the movie “Lincoln,” a Democrat arguing against passage of the 13th Amendment derisively mentions the idea of interracial marriage to ridicule the legislation that would abolish slavery. A century-and-a-half later, as an African-American president is inaugurated for a second term, interracial unions still are relatively rare. And faith groups may be part of the reason Americans still find it so difficult to transcend race and ethnicity in matters of the heart, new research indicates.

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A religion scholar who changed lives: The grace of Deborah Bruce

In a world where humility is considered more a weakness than a virtue, she was self-effacing and dedicated to serving others. In a profession where information can be guarded to serve institutional or personal concerns, she leaves behind a rich collection of data on American religion. In a culture where polarization can lead to despair for those committed to sharing uncomfortable truths, she responded with respect and good humor. A lot of us are going to miss Deborah Bruce, the project manager of the U.S. Congregational Life Survey

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Take this job and love it: Faith plays role in workplace satisfaction

Pay. Benefits. Opportunities for advancement. These are some of the major considerations people take into account in choosing where to work. Now, employers can add another factor: Faith. An increasing body of research suggests that faith plays a major role in the workplace, from being an indicator of how long employees will stay at one company to how well they do in their jobs.

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Sex and the church: U.S. congregations struggle with gay, lesbian issues

As President Obama comes forward to support same-sex marriage, many religious communities are still finding their way as they balance theology, experience and personal consciences on issues of sexuality. Extremists continue to judge and condemn one another, and the vitriol may ramp up as the issue becomes part of the 2012 election. But new research offers a cautionary note for those who would try to fit members of different religious groups into monolithic boxes on gay and lesbian issues.

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Diversity rising: Census shows Mormons, nondenominational churches, Muslims spreading out across U.S.

The U.S. religious landscape is shifting, and no one may be more thankful than GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney. The 2010 U.S. Religion Census, now available on the Association of Religion Data Archives, found that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gained the most regular members in the last 10 years. But the denomination is not the only one spreading its wings nationally in a time of increasing religious diversity
Taken together, nondenominational and independent churches may now be considered the third largest religious group in the country.

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What, me retire? Poor economy, pension issues challenge clergy, denominations

The optimists’ perspective of the coming retirement crunch facing U.S. churches is that many older clergy will have the income to leave full-time positions, but the health and sense of vocation to serve smaller rural and urban churches unable to afford full-time clergy. The pessimists’ perspective is that many spiritual leaders, financially ill-prepared for retirement, will stay on in pastorates as long as they can, exacerbating the clergy age gap and impeding efforts for denominational revitalization. There is evidence to support both viewpoints. What is not in dispute, however, is that the time to address the issue is now.

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