Archive for the ‘science’ Category

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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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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Numbers vs. nurture: Predicting the future of religion

Date-setting for the end of the world has never worked out too well for biblical prophets. Some social scientists, however, say increasingly sophisticated demographic tools can provide vauable insight into the future of religion. Under one scenario for the U.S., Hispanic Catholics and non-Christian religions will be big winners, while predominantly white religious groups will lag behind. Other researchers, however, are skeptical of such attempts to predict the future.

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Charlie Sheen circus points out double-edged sword of religion and alcohol

A major celebrity appears to be destroying himself with alcohol before the eyes of a nation, and his antics become comic fodder, fueling an endless thirst for celebrity voyeurism. What is obscured among the ridicule being heaped upon Charlie Sheen is our own discomfort in confronting alcohol addiction. Religion can be both help and hindrance in the battle against alcoholism, research suggests.

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Younger clergy lead online growth: Is there time left for prayer?

Christian clergy are keeping pace with technological advances, a trend that should only grow stronger as a younger, more wired generation takes their place in pulpits, according to a new study. Ninety-five percent of Christian clergy use the Internet at least weekly, and more than three in four send e-mails to worshippers once a week or more, according to the latest wave of the U.S. Congregational Life Survey. What may be suffering is time spent in prayer.

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Americans’ images of God: Love may keep us together

Forget about Glenn Beck and Richard Dawkins. Many popular commentators try to box religious Americans into simple groups of polar opposites. But the stories of the great majority of religious Americans just don’t fit. Their experiences of God shape their lives in more powerful ways than terms such as liberal and conservative, or even Protestant and Jew, two prominent sociologists maintain in a new book. In “America’s Four Gods: What We Say About God & What That Says About Us,” Baylor University scholars Paul Froese and Christopher Bader find that how people view God is one of the strongest predictors of a range of social and moral attitudes. The good news, Froese and Bader report, is that for all the attention paid to the radical few who would burn Qurans or disrupt funerals with anti-gay hatred, there is a powerful force for civility at the core of nearly all Americans’ faith life: Love, sweet love.

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