Archive for the ‘poverty’ Category

Studies: Religion linked to fewer violent crimes; being ‘spiritual but not religious’ tied to increased risk

Can religion help reduce violent crime? Two new studies suggest the answer is yes, both by creating a moral climate that fosters respect among neighbors and by helping to form individual consciences of young adults. Communities with high levels of active participation in congregations may be particularly effective in reducing assaults, rapes and murders in some poor areas that are most likely to suffer from violent crimes, the research indicates.

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The next pope, Pentecostalism and the Global South

More than half of the world’s Catholics reside in the Global South, and many Catholics are hopeful the next pope will be from Latin America or Africa. This, some observers say, would not only be a significant affirmation of the global nature of the church, but could help stem defections to Pentecostal congregations in those regions. But what may matter more than the nationality of the next pope, according to some scholars, is his commitment to allowing the growth of lay leadership and culturally sensitive worship that is at the heart of the success of the Pentecostal movement. “A new pope would do well to officially sanction some of this, rather than resist it,” one scholar says.

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Key to benevolence: Experiencing divine love may be gift that keeps on giving

Spending quality time with God appears to make benevolent love possible for many Americans, new research indicates. Americans may be biologically hard-wired to worship at the altars of consumerism this holiday season, buying gifts with expectations of what they will receive in return, but those people who say they regularly experience divine love are much more likely to reach out beyond family and friends to serve humanity, according to a national study.

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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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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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Absence of faith: Religion, taxes and the U.S. financial crisis

The nation is hovering near financial crisis. More and more Americans are falling into poverty. Universal health care, Social Security and Medicare have become political bargaining chips. But many Americans have decided only the wealthiest of the wealthy bear responsibility for paying higher taxes. Religious groups would seem to be in a strong position to raise ethical questions about individual responsibility for the common good. Yet research indicates that faith groups have a mixed record in getting people to share their wealth and possessions with their neighbors in need.

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Give us our daily passage: Reading Bible tied to social justice issues

Bible reading matters – just not in the way many commentators on popular culture would predict. A new study, one of the first to examine the social consequences of reading Scripture, reveals the effects of Bible reading appear to transcend conservative-liberal boundaries. Thus, while opposition to same-sex marriage and legalized abortion tends to increase with more time spent with the Bible, so does the number of people who say it is important to actively seek social and economic justice.

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Religion may help obese shed pounds, gain self-esteem

Obese Americans are finding churches, synagogues and mosques can promote exercise, healthier diets and improved self-images, new research indicates. But many severely overweight women, paralyzed by real and perceived prejudice, find it easier to be “couch-potato saints” than to go out in public for the spiritual and social support that can lead to better health. One new study found obese women were more likely to affiliate with a religious congregation, but less likely than other women to attend services or participate in congregational activities.

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Empty pew next to poor children limits benefits of faith

There are few times in life likely to renew faith as the birth of a child. New research suggests poor urban parents and their children may find special sources of support in religious communities that can lead to brighter futures and reduced stress. But the research also raises questions about how well congregations are welcoming poor parents in their midst. Even for the child who’s got his own, a lack of parental involvement makes it that much harder to keep the faith.

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