Category: Culture

New Survey Shows (Again) that Americans are Still Believers

It is easy to go through a pile of numbers and draw any conclusion you want, and the latest national survey on religion from the Pew Research Center will inevitably allow people to do just that.  But when you look at the bottom line, one basic facts is clear: most Americans believe.

Not only do they believe, but a majority of Americans pray every single day.  An overwhelming majority – almost 90% – believe religious organizations bring us together, strengthen community bonds, and play an important role in helping the poor and needy.

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It must be said that the report is not all good news, as those who believe have become less likely to attend worship services regularly.  But that does not mean they have abandoned their faith – believers have actually become more likely to read scripture, participate in small prayer or study groups, and share their faith directly with others over the past few years.

Support has also grown for the idea that faith should “preserve traditional beliefs and practices.”  Overall, the evangelical movement is particularly strong, growing steadily to a membership of over 62 million people.

It is true that belief in America will change, as everything does, particularly in terms of how and where it is expressed.  There is certainly a part of the media that would love for America to abandon religion completely – and probably start worshiping them instead – but the fact religion is changing in America does not mean it is becoming any less vital or any less important to what makes our nation special.

 

Where is the Popular Support for Defunding Planned Parenthood?

The head of Planned Parenthood spent yesterday justifying her organization’s providing of abortions to a skeptical House Oversight Committee.  Conservative members of Congress grilled her about subjects ranging from her $600,000-a-year salary to her determination to turn Planned Parenthood into a “kick-butt political organization.”

Planned Parenthood in St. Paul, MN

The hearing went on for almost five hours, but there is one particular claim she made which should anger conservatives across America: that Planned Parenthood is an organization people like.  How could somebody claim popular support for a group of people that deals in body parts from aborted babies?  She must be lying, right?

The shocking thing is that she isn’t.  Americans have not yet woken up to what is going on in their midst, and even these recent videos have not changed that.

The Wall Street Journal, a long-standing home of conservative thought, put it bluntly this week with this headline: “Planned Parenthood Emerges Unscathed From GOP Attacks“.  The article goes on to note that:

At a time when Republicans have been calling for cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood and threatening to shut down the government to do so, the new poll found that a strong majority of Americans — 61% — oppose eliminating funding, while 35% support a funding cut off.

…even among people who want to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, only 27% favored forcing a government shutdown to accomplish the goal.

Conservatives have simply not made the case to the public at large that taxpayer money should not go to lavish salaries and organizations that provide abortions.  When we try to understand why political maneuvers to stop this funding constantly fail, we must reflect on this fact.  Much more work needs to be done to convince the American people on this issue, and only after this task is complete can we hope to convince their elected leaders to follow the path of valuing the dignity of all life.

The entire video of the House Oversight hearing can be found below:

Are Polls Exaggerating the Rise of Secularism?

Any number of recent polls have declared that the number of Americans who believe in God is declining – but how reliable are these surveys?

Even the polling result that has received the greatest attention in recent months needs to be considered critically. This is the headline about Americans becoming nonreligious—a story based on the rising proportion (especially among younger respondents) of Americans who have no or no particular religious affiliation. Careful reporting acknowledges that many of these ‘religious nones’ still believe in God…

It has become difficult for anyone to know when the results are correct and when they are not. News reports present poll results as if they are accurate and factual representations of what the American public believes and does. A more honest report would explain that 90 percent of those who should have been included in the poll were not included.

And this comes in an era of falling response rates and little transparency.  The chase for headlines is more important to many than presenting an accurate picture of faith in America.  Society is always changing, but that does not mean it is inevitably moving away from religious belief.  Those who believe should not be discouraged from having a voice in the public square, either by poll results or by those who rely on them in trying to impose secularism.

The Week: Gay and Lesbian Troops Perform in Drag on American Military Base

Long gone are the days of Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, and Bob Hope. The Week has more:

On Saturday, six gay and straight service members applied some of their finest makeup and lip synced to “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” in what is believed to be first drag queen and king show on an American military base. The show was thrown in support for the base’s recently formed OutServe-SLDN chapter, a nonprofit advocacy group for the army’s LGBT community.

Navy Lt. Marissa Greene told Stars and Stripes she only expected to sell 75 tickets for the variety show, but ended up selling more than 400 in ten days. The event went through the same approval process as other on-base fundraisers go through, with the only caveat being that it was not allowed to be labeled a “drag show” in its publicity materials. The show was warmly received by spectators, who rocked out to performances by the likes of Manny Nuff and Chocolate Sunrise (“a crowd favorite,” the website notes.)

The article has a video that is disturbing to say the least.  Needless to say, I doubt this inspires any visions of the men who stormed the beaches at Normandy and Tarawa, does it?

To date, the Obama administration has been taking dead aim at American military chaplains in places such as Kadena AFB.  The link here?  If an airman was particularly bothered by this display and wanted to speak with a chaplain, and the conversation was both overheard and faithful to Biblical priniciples — according to certain DOD regulations being floated around, that chaplain gets a dishonorable discharge.

Such are the times.

Russia Invades Ukraine, Obama Draws Red Line… On Israel?

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu — a gentleman we here at TVCELI are quite fond of calling “the leader of the free world” — is visiting the United States this week ahead of a visit to the White House and the AIPAC.

Of course, with current events, one would think that the Obama administration would be focused like a laser on events unfolding in Ukraine.  Drawing red lines and such to demonstrate to our enemies America’s seriousness of purpose.

…but you would be wrong.  Red lines are for America’s friends:

In an hourlong interview Thursday in the Oval Office, Obama, borrowing from the Jewish sage Rabbi Hillel, told me that his message to Netanyahu will be this: “If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, then who?” He then took a sharper tone, saying that if Netanyahu “does not believe that a peace deal with the Palestinians is the right thing to do for Israel, then he needs to articulate an alternative approach.” He added, “It’s hard to come up with one that’s plausible.”

Peace on whose terms, Mr. President?  Will it be a peace arrived or a peace imposed?  Moreover, what security guarantees is the world giving to Israel in terms of Iranian disarmament, reducing Hezbollah’s influence in Syria and Lebanon, and finding a willing partner for peace on the Arab and Palestinian street?

“There comes a point where you can’t manage this anymore, and then you start having to make very difficult choices,” Obama said. “Do you resign yourself to what amounts to a permanent occupation of the West Bank? Is that the character of Israel as a state for a long period of time? Do you perpetuate, over the course of a decade or two decades, more and more restrictive policies in terms of Palestinian movement? Do you place restrictions on Arab-Israelis in ways that run counter to Israel’s traditions?”

Fact check.  Who started the 1967 Yom Kippur War, again?  What sort of “restrictions” should Israel accept so that Obama and Kerry can have a second-term legacy?

Netanyahu will have some tough questions thrown at him by the liberal media.  Yet the Israelis know that freedom has a friend in the United States.  Hopefully, Netanyahu’s reception will be a warm one despite the snow blanketing the Washington D.C. area this week.

What The LDS Really Had To Say About The Boy Scouts…

…and naturally, it isn’t what’s being trumpeted in the media:

“While the Church has not launched any campaign either to effect or prevent a policy change, we have followed the discussion and are satisfied that BSA has made a thoughtful, good-faith effort to address issues that, as they have said, remain ‘among the most complex and challenging issues facing the BSA and society today.’

“The current BSA proposal constructively addresses a number of important issues that have been part of the ongoing dialogue, including consistent standards for all BSA partners, recognition that Scouting exists to serve and benefit youth rather than Scout leaders, a single standard of moral purity for youth in the program, and a renewed emphasis for Scouts to honor their duty to God.

In other words, unless the Mormons have surrendered the idea that homosexual acts are sinful, the Mormon position here reads much like the Catholic position — acts are to be defined as sins, people are in the likeness and image of God.

…and if the Boy Scouts of America (and their scoutmasters) bring them closer to God, so be it?

Perhaps that’s a bit of an extrapolation, but to stretch the Latter Day Saints’ position into some sort of capitulation or acceptance of homosexuality would be the definition of a stretch.  Then there still remains that ever tricky issue of whether or not scoutmasters really want to take that further step towards androgynizing the Boy Scouts as if such distinctions as male and female did not matter.

But naturally, that’s not the agenda.  Those attacking institutions such as the Boy Scouts don’t want half, nor do they seek compromise.  They want it all… and will take it in increments, if the Boy Scouts and others permit them to do so.

Washington Post/ABC Poll: 58% of Americans Believe Marriage Should Be Abolished

…because that’s the effective position we’re taking here in this crash poll:

There has been a related movement in public opinion about homosexuality. Fully 62 percent of Americans now say being gay is just the way some people are, not something people choose to be. About 20 years ago, fewer than half of the public said so.

In the current data, about three-quarters of those who do not see homosexuality as a choice support gay marriage, with most supporting it “strongly.” More than two-thirds of those who see it as a choice oppose gay marriage, with almost all intensely against it.

Currently, gay marriage is legal in only nine states and the District of Columbia, but public views are more similar than not across state lines. In the states that allow gay marriage, 68 percent say such same-sex marriages should be legal, but so too do 56 percent of those in states where the practice is not legal.

Intensity on the matter is, however, different in those states. In places where gay marriage is legal, 52 percent feel strongly that it should be. That falls to 39 percent feeling strongly that it should be legal in states where it currently is not.

But let’s be honest about what we’re trying to accomplish here.  This isn’t about the redefinition of marriage — it’s about the abolishment of marriage.  Marriage is an institution centered around family: one father, one mother.

Abrogating this definition is akin to abolishing it, plain and simple.

Whatever the changing opinions of the American public as defined by the Washington Post or ABC News, the bottom line still remains, as the old line from St. Thomas More in “A Man for All Seasons” demonstrates:

“If the king says the world is flat, will that make the world flat?”

Indeed not.

What’s In Your Curriculum? More Islam…

…because in Texas, students are learning that “Allah is the Almighty God”:

The program, called CSCOPE, is a private venture operating under the umbrella of the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative, whose incorporation documents state its independence from the State Board of Education of the Texas Education Agency.

Other reports previously have raised alarm over the curriculum’s depiction of the Boston Tea Party as a terrorist act on par with the 9/11 attack.

Now come concerns about what critics describe as a definitively pro-Islam bias.

The critics say the studies border on proselytizing.

In one scenario, students are asked to study the tenets of Islam, and critics say the materials provided exceed impartial review of another faith, extending into requirements of conversion and moral imperatives.

A computer presentation utilized as part of a study of Islam includes information on how to convert, as well as verses denigrating other faiths.

According to excerpts, under the heading, “Who Is Allah?,” students are told:

“Allah is the Almighty God.”

“Allah alone is the Creator. He alone deserves our devout love and worship.”

Muhammad is described as having become “disillusioned with the corruption in the city and the growing gap between the urban dwellers and the Bedouins (nomadic herders).”

Of course, Texas is not the only state that has seen “the beliefs of Islam” being taught in state curricula in contrast with “the history of Christianity” — Virginia just last year witness a minor controversy over the Virginia Department of Education’s approved textbook lessons for schoolchildren that was never fully resolved.

WSJ: God Will Provide — Unless the Government Gets There First

Thoughtful words from W. Bradford Wilcox in the Wall Street Journal:

The most powerful force driving religious participation down is the nation’s recent retreat from marriage, Mr. Wuthnow notes. Nothing brings women and especially men into the pews like marriage and parenthood, as they seek out the religious, moral and social support provided by a congregation upon starting a family of their own. But because growing numbers of young adults are now postponing or avoiding marriage and childbearing, they are also much less likely to end up in church on any given Sunday. Mr. Wuthnow estimates that America’s houses of worship would have about six million more regularly attending young adults if today’s young men and women started families at the rate they did three decades ago.

Now, President Barack Obama seems poised to give secularism in America another boost, however inadvertently. This may come as a surprise to some, given Mr. Obama’s outreach to religious voters last fall, his strong showing among them in the election and his eagerness to cultivate the faithful since. The White House has even been opening many of Mr. Obama’s public appearances with a prayer, sometimes surpassing presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton in displays of public piety.

Nevertheless, the president’s audacious plans for the expansion of the government — from the stimulus to health-care reform to a larger role in education — are likely to spell trouble for the vitality of American religion. His $3.6 trillion budget for fiscal 2010 would bring federal, state and local spending to about 40% of the gross domestic product — within hailing distance of Europe, where state spending runs about 46% of GDP. The European experience suggests that the growth of the welfare state goes hand in hand with declines in personal religiosity.

Observations such as these get right back down to the idea of government as “the god that failed” versus a civilization truly centered around things other than itself — looking forward rather than consuming itself.

Certainly the heritage of the Christian West stands in stark contrast to the inward looking and myopic secular modernism we see running amok today.