Changing Faith: The Dynamics and Consequences of Americans’ Shifting Religious Identities

01/08/2014

Changing Faith: The Dynamics and Consequences of Americans' Shifting Religious Identities

Changing Faith: The Dynamics and Consequences of Americans' Shifting Religious Identities

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At long last, Changing Faith is out. If you want to know what has been going on in American religion in the last four decades, I think this is the place to look. It also examines how religious factors figure into sexuality, family, and politics. What is unique about my work is that I take ethnicity seriously, and examine American religion not simply through the lens of church going white Christians, but across varied ethnicities Western and Eastern European, African American, Latino, Asian, and Native American. It’s not really a statement book, because I don’t really think of scholarship in this field  as driven by statements. Instead, it is a work of religious demography, and I think that demography is the primary field for understanding the dynamics of religion across all societies. I tip my hat to Jim Kluegel, Mike Hout, and all those who have toiled examining empirical reality, without criticizing it.

The Chosen and the Ignored: Gaza Genocide Edition

28/07/2014
Obviously, you are not of the Chosen!

Obviously, you are not of the Chosen!

The increasingly unhinged right wing nutjob religious extremists who control Zionist Israel are now using their Military Industrial Complex Subsidies to the full hilt, massacring and maiming thousands of civilians. For what? Well, obvi9usly, for ethnic cleansing. They are continuing a decades long project from the Zionist far right to create a “greater Israel” and to remove Muslims, Christians, Druze, and others from “their” god given territory. It’s almost funny that the religious right in the US supports this, given that Palestine used to have a very substantial Christian minority—much larger than the Jewish population in the 19th Century (which wasn’t that fucking long ago….), and rivaling the Jews even at the point of the passage of the British Mandate in 1948. Yet, now, American fundamentalist Christians are all for sending billions of dollars to Israel to murder Palestinians and steal their land. Because, that way, Jesus will come back sooner. Boomer Sooner, Boomer Sooner…..

Ignoring Climate Change: Christianity and Anti-environmentalism

13/07/2014

 

 

globalwarm

Ever since the 1960s when Lynn White pointed out the Abrahamic roots of anti-environmentalism, Christians have tried and failed to argue that they aren’t a part of the problem, but are instead the solution! So, they have paper drives in their churches and pick up litter on the highway. But, when it gets right down to it, environmentalism as a generalized ethic is inherently inimical to the Christian project. After all, Jesus is coming back soon, so he’ll clean it all up with his super duper Jesus powers. And, of course, all of that “environmentalism” is all fancy schmantzy scientism! Earth worship. Every good Christian knows that science is just a bunch of human arrogance designed to distract people from the true human condition, which is, of course, subjugation to the gods of Christianity.

Unfortunately, questions about climate change have been poorly approached in what few quality surveys we have remaining. The early GSS question asked whether or not respondents thought that scientists understood global warming. Notably, that’s not the same thing as whether or not respondents believe that climate change is real and caused by humans. Indeed, many people who understand that climate change is real and caused by humans may nonetheless think that scientists have a limited understanding of the processes. Another question was asked about whether respondents think that increased temperatures from climate change have an adverse effect on the environment. Another bad question, really, but still instructive in how it plays out. Above, you can see that religious beliefs play a strong role in structuring beliefs about environmental insult from climate change. ANY belief in the divine sanction of the abrahamic sacred texts reduces perceptions of the dangers of climate change. Less than half of bible believers thank climate change is dangerous, while more than one in five think it is not dangerous at all. In contrast, people who believe that the bible was written by bronze age goat fuckers tend to believe that global warming has dire consequences for the environment, and relatively few of them think it is not dangerous.

Religion and Inequality in America

10/07/2014

relinequalitypic

It was a nice surprise to find copies of our book, Religion and Inequality in America: Research and Theory on Religion’s Role in Stratification, in the mail today. It wasn’t exactly clear when it was coming out, and a friend of mine who pre-ordered said she got hers last week….Lisa Keister did a wonderful job in riding herd and convincing people to contribute, and in the end I think we have a really nice set of original works that cover the gist of the field. It’s embarrassing to still be seeing manuscripts that are submitted for publication which are completely clueless about the large and growing literature showing the distinctive impact of religion on stratification. Key among the findings of the most important essays in the volume is that life course processes and orientations towards education and women’s roles are key for either enabling upward mobility or anchoring disprivilege. In the US, this mostly means that secular people, liberal Protestants, Catholics (especially European ones….) and non-Christians (including not only Jews, but also Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims) outdistance sectarian Protestants. It isn’t even close, and it doesn’t matter what indicator of stratification you look at (education, occupation, income, or wealth). Nice contributions by key researchers in the field including Jen’an Read, Chris Ellison, Michael Hout, Evelyn Lehrer, Fred Solt, Jim Davidson, Ralph Pyle, Rebekah Massengill, Jennifer Glass, Scott Fitzgerald, John Bartkowski, Scot Schieman, Margarita Mooney, Michael Lindsay, and many other collaborators. I was glad to do a chapter with my former student Nadia Amin looking at religion, gender, and educational attainment among US immigrants–the main takeaway being that the Hindus are the new Jews—unless patriarchy tanks them.

 

 

Religion and Inequality in America: Research and Theory on Religion's Role in Stratification

Religion and Inequality in America: Research and Theory on Religion's Role in Stratification

Buy from Amazon

Hierarchical Privilege and Sexual Assault in US Colleges and Universities

04/07/2014

 

 

He said yes, I think.

He said yes, I think.

Sexual assault is a common and violent way of degrading those in social positions beneath those of the oppressor. I always like to discuss this more generally, in contrast to the gender differentiated constructions that often prevail. It’s good to get the guys thinking about being raped. And, of course, we have ample evidence that within the structure of university education male rape is commonplace, though usually by instrument. The places that are most often the sources of the rape of women by men are also places where men are frequently subjected to violent sexual abuse. In  these settings, sociologists and psychologists have pinpointed an axis of abuse, and we know where sexual abuse thrives: (1) fraternities and sororities;  (2) Athletic clubs, particularly football and basketball; and (3) other student organizations where peer hierarchies predominate.

The war against higher education that began under Ronnie Raygun has shifted the lens of scrutiny from criminals and social organizations responsible for fostering a culture of sexual dominance to the few people who are trying to change culture to make it less violent and reprehensible—universities and their faculty and staff. We do not need more administrators to reduce rape—we already have plenty and all colleges are required to have professional staff working to reduce sexual assault. We train dorm advisers and hold workshops for students to explain to them how civilized humans are supposed to interact. We have counseling and support staff and rape hotlines to assist victims. Indeed, the “rise” in sexual assault which is supposedly happening (I have seen no concrete evidence that sexual assault is on the rise) is almost certainly a function of the fact that we have these support structures in place. More women and men who would have suffered in silence and told nobody about their assault are now speaking out and demanding justice. We are doing our job. The people not doing their jobs are police forces operating in college towns and university police departments.

Oh, and, of course, deanlets and deanlings who want to protect the image of a university, athletics programs, and powerful alumni who think rape culture in fraternities and sororities is just fine and dandy. We know how to further reduce sexual assault (which I would bet is at a historic low on college campuses). (1) Disband all fraternities and sorororities; (2) eliminate football at virtually all universities, and tightly regulate the activities of all “student athletes”—including eliminating all athlete specific dorms; (3) reinstate policies for terminating students for moral failings—we are now in a situation where rapists who don’t get convicted can come back and sue a university, and we don’t have to be in that situation. If we could simply say, “whatever happened there is a moral failing that makes you unworthy of being a student at our university” then it’s over. None of this “you can come back later” shit. (4) I hate to agree with Douchehat, but lowering the drinking age to 18 would also allow universities to supervise drinking behavior. When I started college it was the last year of 18 year old drinking, and dorms had parties and all of the RA’s were in attendance (and the Area Directors). If someone got drunk, they were escorted back to their dorm by a responsible sober person. Now, parties happen in frats and in rental properties. If someone gets drunk, a predator may rape them.

Revenge of the Shit Poll

11/06/2014
Shit polls have made a comeback!

Shit polls have made a comeback!

 

 

Dewey Wins!! Ah yes, what have we here, some teabagger economist from a women’s college just beat House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the GOP primary! Wow, but did you see the really good part? According to all of the “polls” Cantor had a 34 point lead. Yes, 34 points. Gee, that’s one whopping confidence interval, isn’t it?!!! One whore pollster was identified as John McGlaughlin, who does not play guitar, but maybe would be better at that than he is at scientific polling. Indeed, in the only indicator based on empirical reality, Brat beat Cantor 55-45….a landslide, really. Not even close. This is what we’ve come to with whore pollsters. I look forward to much more of this. Hopefully, all these people will go broke and we’ll get back to doing science. Shit polls are shit.

Religious Nutjobs influencing Education

04/06/2014
Fired for being too cool.

Fired for being too cool.

I used to believe the Jesus crowd. How they were really supportive of science and education. They really wanted to be “universities” and not “bible colleges” and shit like that. Well, we’re seeing those  true colors in South Carolina from the Southern Baptist Convention controlled Charleston Southern University. They have apparently fired a teaching -award-winning sociologist who came to Charleston Southern mostly because of the potential for tenure—he had previously been non tenure tracked (and very successful) at College of Charleston. And, no, there’s nothing more to this. This guy is happily married to a woman. I have it on good measure that he’s an upstanding guy and an awesome teacher (from one of his former colleagues at College of Charleston).

These low-life dickhead administrators  at Charleston Southern thought it was proper to fire someone from an associate professor without tenure job because they felt that his image on a can threatened their commitment to the prohibition of alcohol. Because they think that anyone who drinks alcohol is going to hell. I’m betting their students disagree. I’m not even going to bother with the facts that poor Roof had no control over his image and shit like that, who fucking cares? Why? Tell us, please. Why did you fire this guy? Admit it. You think that any association with alcohol is a serious offense because you think that alcohol is a grave sin. Put that up front and center for your hiring of new professors from now on. Better yet, put it up in bold on your recruitment materials for new students “any student caught drinking or promoting drinking will be expelled.”  Don’t bury it in some student code, put it on the front of your website. You won’t get many students or professors wanting to come to CSU,  and they’ll all suck.  All of these colleges should  suffer from the defection of students who realize that they are paying top dollar for an inferior product. You’d fire your best people for being on a beer can and getting no money from it? What else would you do? Is there anyone worth a shit who wouldn’t down a beer now and again? Or at least be tolerant of those who would?

Why Obamacare will foster gun control.

02/06/2014
He's got a gun!

He’s got a gun!

 

While the gun nuts in the NRA successfully weakened direct responses to gun safety and violence in the Affordable Care Act, the overall bill will be the doom of radical gun nuts. Everyone hates the insurance industry. They have a very lucrative oligopoly, and consumers are required to have insurance on their homes, cars, businesses, and now for our health. It’s that last one that is finally going to get the gun nuts. Before Obamacare, most Americans injured by gun crimes and accidents (which is probably a dramatically increasing figure given the types of guns now prevalent and the decreasing attention to gun safety), were the working poor. People who generally did not have insurance, and eventually because of injury and disability wound up on Medicaid. The insurance industry doesn’t give a rat’s ass about government costs from gun violence, only their own costs.  Most gun victims are young, and before Obamacare, that made it even more likely that they were uninsured. Before Obamacare, young people with good jobs and insurance tended not to be gun owners and tend to be responsible if they were, and the middle classes are much less likely to be victims of gun crime as well. When the uninsured barista at Starbuck’s gets shot by some asshole and winds up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills,  she’d wind up on Medicaid and the taxpayers will pick up the tab.Now, she’s on Obamacare and the insurance company has to pony up.

Insurance companies have a different stake on gun violence now—much like what happened with automobile safety in the 1960s. The gun industry is now going to be costing the insurance industry big time, and the insurance industry is going to fight back with regulations to make gun injuries less common. Billions of dollars are at stake every year. Nobody cared when it was the USA paying the tab (particularly since CMS cannot record how much it is costing us in Medicaid, Medicare, or in the VA….). But you can bet your AK-47 that Blue Cross is on it. Every time some dumbass drops their pistol in a Wal Mart, all of those bills are going to be paid by an insurance company—-and they are going to go after the gun owners and manufacturers. They’re going to demand that you buy gun insurance, just like they did for car insurance. They’re going to demand that you have a high quality gun safe and store your weapons properly. They’re going to want trigger locks, smart safety systems, limits on magazine capacity, eliminating destructive bullets, preventing the sale or production of  cheap pistols which can only be used for shooting people at close range. Gun prices are going to soar with the increased regulation, and assault weapons will be the first to go. Gun manufacturers will once again be able to be sued for defective products. It’s gonna be awesome!

Religious Belief and Non-identification—making sense of change.

27/05/2014
Changing Faith Chapter 3: Believing and Belonging

Changing Faith Chapter 3: Believing and Belonging

Mark Silk has been trying but failing to understand conflicting “survey” data on religious beliefs among people who do not identify with a religion. He’s taken exception to my colleague Tobin Grant’s analysis of high quality data from US Voters, and favored instead data from a couple of online shit polls supplemented with loser level phone poll data. Garbage does not trump science. Tobin  is right, however the 2012 ANES data can say nothing about how increases in non-identification have impacted religious beliefs over time or across cohorts. Indeed, even in high quality surveys, there are not enough respondents in a single year to adequately address this question. In my forthcoming book, Changing Faith: The Dynamics and Consequences of American’s Changing Religious Identities,  I examine this in Chapter 3, along with other beliefs and behaviors available in the GSS. What I show is that younger cohorts of “nones” are less likely to be atheists or nontheists. In the older cohorts, nearly one in five “nones” are outright atheists, however in the youngest cohorts this falls to under 10%. Of course, for many reasons (lifecourse factors being central) there are many more “nones” in the younger cohorts, and many of them never had a religious identification—while most of the older “nones” rejected a former religious identification. If you lump together atheists, agnostics, and people who believe in a “higher power BUT NOT A GOD”, what I call “non-theists” then the proportions increase to over 50% across all cohorts, but non-theism is also higher in the earlier generations. I show in the chapter that not-believing and not belonging is a dominant trend, but that is because of higher rates of non-identification and unbelief.

Race, Religion, and Support for Capital Punishment

05/05/2014

 

 

Trends in Support for Capital Punishment, General Social Survey

Trends in Support for Capital Punishment, General Social Survey

Christian Barbarism was in full display this week in Oklahoma, with Christian officials moving forward to murder prisoners despite not having legitimate drugs for their lethal injection system. Post-Christian Europe cut us off from the pharmaceuticals because they don’t want to promote barbarism. As a consequence, there have been several brutally botched executions throughout the country. The latest in cruel and unusual punishment was perhaps the worst. But, white Christian Americans are willing to do anything to continue to execute brown people according to their interpretation of their religion. Funny, though, Christianity doesn’t work the same way for African Americans.  “Only” 63% of those who reject the divine authority of the Bible support capital punishment. What is interesting is that the Christian gods work differently among African Americans—I suspect that they find a disconnect between the gods and the white people who prosecute the gods’ laws.

Thankfully, even white Americans are becoming less comfortable with state sponsored murder, though an astonishing number still support it. Above you can see the trend over four decades divided by race and by religious beliefs. More than three fourths of white fundamentalists continue to support cruel and unusual punishments, in line with the sadistic and unethical prescriptions for retribution from their evil gods. Indeed, only 42% of African American fundamentalists support execution—while 50% of secular African Americans are barbarians.


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