Archive for the ‘sexuality’ Category

Not just gay issues: Why hundreds of congregations made final break with mainline denominations

Changing stances on gay ordinations and same-sex marriages were a key factor in the exodus of several hundred churches from mainline Protestant denominations. But new research into why congregations decided to leave reveal differences on sexuality issues were only part of a much larger divide.

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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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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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U.S. congregations report major gains in accepting gays and lesbians, racial, ethnic diversity

America’s pews are becoming dramatically more welcoming to gays and lesbians and increasingly reflective of the nation’s racial and ethnic diversity, according to the latest results from a major study of U.S. congregations. Nearly three in ten U.S. congregations permit gays and lesbians in committed relationships to hold volunteer leadership positions, almost double the 19 percent of congregations in 2006-2007 that allowed such opportunities, the National Congregations Study found. And the percentage of U.S. congregations with only non-Hispanic whites declined from 20 percent in 1998 to 11 percent in 2012, the study found.

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Media matters: R-rated films, violent video games may lower religious practice of teens, young adults

Can a steady diet of watching movies such as “Ted” and “Saw” through “Saw VI” or playing violent video games keep young people out of the pews? The answer may be yes, according to studies suggesting the viewing choices young people make also can influence their spiritual lives. It is more complex than a simple “content in, action out” principle where young people emulate the behavior they see on screen. Still, researchers are finding many young adults appear to struggle with the radically different messages of “Machete Kills” or “Grand Theft Auto” and the Sermon on the Mount.

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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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Looking back – and forth – in anger: Catholic outrage, defections, over abuse scandal not letting up

U.S. Cardinal Edward Egan recently generated controversy by expressing regret for issuing an apology for the church’s handling of clergy sexual abuse. Yet no matter how much individuals such as the cardinal would like to put the abuse scandal behind them, they can no longer appeal to an obedient laity to ignore or downplay the crimes, according to new research. Many Catholics are still mad as heck, and they are not going to take it anymore. The enduring consequences include continuing defections, lower collections, ruptures in pastoral relationships and a loss of moral influence by church leaders, research indicates.

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In God NFL players can trust: Teams, public pave path to deviance

Having it all – measured in terms of money, sex and public adoration – is no guarantee of happiness. Just ask Tiger Woods. Or listen to the stories of more than 100 current and former NFL players sociologist Eric M. Carter of Georgetown College was able to interview in a groundbreaking study of a world closed to outsiders. The public may idolize them, but elite athletes report high levels of both unhappiness and deviant behavior, Carter discovered. What does have a positive effect, the study found, is faith in God and access to a religious support system.

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Sexual abuse of children crosses faith lines

Recent news reports about Catholic malfeasance at the highest levels are again shedding important light on the problem of sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church. Yet it would be a mistake to give in to the convenient temptation that this is “a Catholic problem.” A growing body of research affirms what I have discovered in more than a decade of investigative reporting: Young people have been and are being sexually abused in evangelical and mainline Protestant churches, in mosques and synagogues and temples. And the initial response is largely the same. Religious leaders protect the institution, often angrily condemning or ignoring the victim lying wounded on the side of the road.

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