Archive for February, 2011

Religious Denominations and Same Sex Marriage: 2010 Edition


Support for Same Sex Marriage by Denomination: 2010 GSS

Support for same sex marriage now exceeds opposition to marital rights in the general population, but how does that look across religious groups? Who are the cultural laggards and who are the vanguard of social change? No surprises here.  Half of Liberal Protestants support marital rights, as do 60% of Episcopalians. Moderates are less supportive at 38%, while Lutherans a bit more supportive at 43%.  35% of Baptists support marital rights, but only 19% of sectarians favor civil rights for same sex couples.  Importantly, over47% of Catholics support marital rights for same sex couples. And, of course, all the non-Christians are for civil rights–you can’t be a civil rights hater if you’re a Unitarian, and an overwhelming majority of Jews, Non-identifiers, and other non-Christians (Buddhists, Hindus, Moslems and others) support civil rights.

Opposition to Same Sex Marriage: 2010 GSS

So, what about the haters? Who opposes civil rights for same sex couples? Notably, this is non-trivial, since many people can’t really decide what they think about this “controversial” issue. Well, Sectarian Christians will not be outdone, with 70% opposing marital rights. Baptists are the next biggest haters, with 53% in opposition and Moderate Protestants are not far behind. Mormons only generate 50% opposition—the numbers are small so we can’t be too sure, but this is a very low rate of opposition (gee, maybe they are starting to dream of Big Love?).  The big news is that no other religious group registers over 50% opposition to same sex marriage.  Under 40% of Liberal Protestants are opposed, and only 28% of Episcopalians–and less than 35% of  American Catholics support the hateful policies of the pedophile priests. That’s right. Catholics are less opposed to same sex marriage than are “liberal” protestants, and support for same sex marriage among Catholics is nearly 50%—and 34% higher than opposition.  And, of course, opposition is under 20%  among the 25% of Americans who identify in one of the  non-Christian groups or who shun religious identification.  Civil Rights haters are a dwindling minority, and are confined to strange sectarian groups like the Baptists, Assembly of God, Pentecostals, Church of Christ, and their ilk. Real Americans support civil rights.

Support for and Opposition to Same Sex Marriage: 1988-2010


Support and Opposition to Same Sex Marriage: 1988-2010 GSS

With no fanfare or press conference from a gaggle of right-wing  propagandists, the 2010 edition of the General Social Survey was released to the unwashed public (that would be me) this week.  Coming on the heels of our  recent Social Science Research article, the raw trend is quite an eye-popper. For the first time, a legitimate scientific survey is showing very clearly that the proportion of Americans who agree or strongly agree that same sex marriage should be legal exceeds the proportion who either oppose or strongly oppose marital rights.  46% of Americans favor civil rights, while 40% oppose civil rights, and the remainder just can’t seem to decide. Of course, this is an incredible shift from the first time the question was asked in 1988–when 73% of Americans opposed marital rights, but it is also a seismic change from 2004, when only 30% of Americans supported marriage rights for same sex couples, and 56% opposed civil rights.  I’ll have more on this as I get to work updating all of my files…gee, who do you think opposes marriage rights in this day and age? Maybe Christianists?

Jesus Hates Unions


God Hates Unions and Homos

Lest there be any doubt about who the Koch Brothers are loading up in their Teabagger express buses to protest  FOR cuts to education, public health, and all manner of public services–it’s the Christianists. After all, they don’t send their kids to school. They’re “homeschooled” or they go to far right wing Christian schools where their kids learn that Jesus wrote the constitution, and that taxes, schools, roads, healthcare, clean water, and stuff like that are evil and communist. Education and clean water cause homosexuality and atheism. Paying people enough money to buy a home and send their kids to college is an abomination. Americans should make less than the minimum wage, which is also a communist plot against god. Only rich people are supposed to have food and health care and homes. Poor people are poor because Jesus hates them. So, if you try to help the poor, you hate Jesus.

The Decline of Religion in American Higher Education


% No Religion among College Educated under Age 25 by Decade

A representative of the Templeton Foundation recently produced a vile little screed claiming that scientists and other college professors need to start paying attention to Jesus in the classroom, or else there is going to be an explosion. No doubt, she refers to the impending Palin-Bachmann presidency, when all non-Christian college professors (the vast majority) will be fired or forced to accept baptism in the blood of Christ. In the course of this obnoxious piece of misguided propaganda, she makes many false claims, one of which has to do with the supposed growing religiosity on college campuses, which she claims is indicated by an increase in the number of religious studies departments, growth in professional organizations devoted to religious studies,  burgeoning enrollments in religion courses, and increased Christian religiosity among students. All of this is bullshit.

First, religious studies is at its nadir, I can’t put a firm statistic on this (nor can Templeton) but most universities have cut or gutted their religious studies departments, and the academic job market for religious studies people has been in the toilet for four decades. Oh, sure, you can get a job at Gordon or Houghton or Wheaton or Baylor or Oral Roberts or Notre Dame—if you are just a jesus freak instead of an actual scholar studying religion. But, for REAL scholars who study religion, jobs are slim pickin’s and I bet if you charted the membership of the AAR it would show a strong linear decline starting in 1970.

In the social sciences, things looked good there back in 1999 when Ellison and I were surveying the field, now….things look like they are spiraling back downward. I’m no longer a member of the Religious Research Association and I used to co-edit their journal! I’m tempted to relinquish my membership in the ASA religion section (which I helped found, primarily to keep it separate from religious interests in the ASR–to which I no longer belong). If all that these groups do is promote the superiority of Christianity, I have no reason to remain involved. If those organizations have grown, it is because of this new generation of minor league conservative Christians. I suspect that membership is tanking, as people like me, the new religion people, comparative religion people, and others vote with their feet.

Religious student unions have declined to the point of closing for most denominations on most campuses. Once vibrant organizations are now often empty, and our Baptist Student Union here on my humble campus has closed twice. One is now a Music Dept Building, and the smaller one they built later now houses minor level administrators. Oh, sure, the place is crawling with fundies trying (unsuccessfully) to convert our students, but that is because we no longer have respectable religious professionals who can kick them off of campus.

Back to the real world, our students are not increasingly interested in religion. In fact, the opposite is true. In the 197os, GSS data show that about 19% of college educated people under age 25 held no religious identification. As Wilson and I showed long ago, many of those came back to identification later in life–however returning to the fold is much less popular in later cohorts. Non-identification waned in the 1980s, but bounced back in the 1990s and hovers close to 25% among the people who constitute the majority of our undergraduates. Non-Theism also abounds among these younger non-identifiers—and even among many who claim a religious identification. 23% of the college educated under 30 are non-theists in the 2000s GSS, up from 17% in previous decades. And, there is a growing non-Christian segment of our student population, fostered mainly by Asian immigration. Do you really think they want to hear you spout off about your filthy virgin boy-god in class? No, and neither do the nearly 25% of your students (no doubt more at elite universities) who don’t give a rat’s ass about religion. It is the NON-RELIGIOUS who are increasing on college campuses, unless you teach at Jesus U, in which case I’m sure you preach the word of the lord in your classes, whether or not it has anything to do with the subject matter.

Decreasing Confidence in Religion in the United States


Confidence in Organized Religion, 1973-2008 GSS

Mark Silk was making a point about fluctuations in support for religious influence, where he rightly points out that under Democrats people report wanting more religious influence, while under republicans people report wanting less. Still, one wonders about the overall perception of the desirability of religious influence. The GSS gets close to that with its indicator of “confidence in organized religion”, and it now  has a 35 year trend line in the GSS. What it shows is that in the bad old days, more than a third of Americans were very confident organized religion, while only 15% or so had no confidence in organized religion

Fast forward 35 years, and about 25% have no confidence in organized religion, while only 20% are very confident in the work of organized religion.

Unfortunately, the religious fucks have leeched onto the plutocrats, and they’re way more influential than they should be.