Religious America Selected Sources: ARIS American Religious Identification Survey 2008 General Social Survey Berger, Helen, A Community of Witches: Contemporary Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft in the United States, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999. Chaves, Mark. 2004. Congregations in America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Form, William and Joshua Kjerulf Dubrow. 2008. “The Ecology of Church Fundamentalism in a Metropolis.” City & Community 7(2): 141-162. Form, William and Joshua Dubrow. 2005. “Downtown Metropolitan Churches: Ecological Situation and Response.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 44 (3): 271-290. Ostrowski Marcin. 2009. The Rise of Neo-Paganism In The United States. Master’s Thesis, American Studies Center, University of Warsaw. Zelinsky, Wilbur. 2007. “The Gravestone Index: Tracking Personal Religiosity Across Nations, Regions and Periods.” Geographical Review 97(4).
What is religion? There are many definitions, and there is no consensus. Religion is a complex set of beliefs and customs resulting in a specific worldview and some moral tenets to be followed, all of which provide a sense of purpose to life. The phenomenon usually involves supernatural beings, rituals, prayers and other forms of contemplation, which are based on faith rather than reason. Finally, it often has a great influence on peoples’ lives and their perceptions of it.
Measuring Religion and Religiosity The U.S. Bureau of the Census is legally precluded from inquiry into religion. Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. According to the U.S. Census Bureau: “Public Law 94-521 prohibits us from asking a question on religious affiliation on a mandatory basis; therefore, the Bureau of the Census is not the source for information on religion.” 10/17/1976 Public law 94-521 http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d094:HR11337:@@@L&summ2=m&#summary An Act to amend title 13, United States Code, to provide for a mid-decade census of population, and for other purposes. “ Eliminates the penalty of imprisonment for refusing or willfully neglecting to answer questions asked on a census questionaire. Provides that a person may not be compelled to disclose information regarding his religious beliefs or membership in a religious body .”
ARIS 2008 71 percent of Americans had a religious initiation ceremony, such as a baptism, Christening, circumcision, confirmation, bar mitzvah or naming ceremony. 69 percent of married people had a religious ceremony. 66 percent expect to have a religious funeral.
What about small-sized religions, the so-called “other” category? Example of Neo-Paganism Generally Neo-Pagan beliefs share the recognition of divine in nature, honoring the cycles of the seasons and regarding the Earth as sacred. The most known and popular groups are Wicca, Druidry, Shamanism, each of them having a number of its own subdivisions and distinctive traditions. The Covenant of the Goddess comment on the year 1998, “ Conservative reckonings estimate 200,000 Witches and/or Neo-Pagans in the US alone.“ In 1999, Barnes and Noble, the online bookseller, estimated the Neo-Pagan “buying audience” at 10 million. American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) of 2001 estimated that the number of self-identified Wiccans is 134,000.
Is America becoming more secular? The main assumption of the secularization theory is that as modern society progresses, religious sentiments gradually diminish. The problem in validating secularization theory lies in how it is defined. Some define it as a decline of religious authority but not individual beliefs, i.e. a decline in organized religion, but not a decline in religion itself.
The Gravestone Index as measure of religiosity; the incidence of religious symbols, iconography, or text on permanent memorials: it was applied to 58,490 grave markers observed in 111 community, or nondenominational, cemeteries in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain.
A B C Asleep with Jesus Till we meet in heave Sweet be they slumber Now in God's care Our little angel Gone to rest Awaiting our Lord's return Until the day breaks Rest in peace God is good She is not dead but sleepeth Gone fishing U.S. percent 1960s: 14 1970s: 19.8 1980s: 26.3 1990s: 30.5 2000s: 27.9
ARIS Religion 1990 2008 difference Catholic 26.2 25.1 - 1.1 Other Christian 60 50.9 - 9.1 Total Christians 86.2 76 - 10.2 Other Religions 3.3 3.9 + 0.6 “ Nones” 8.2 15 + 6.8 DK/Refused 2.3 5.2 + 2.9
Religion 1990 2008 difference Jewish 1.8 1.2 - 0.6 Muslim 0.3 0.6 + 0.3 New Religious Movements and Other Religions: Scientology, New Age, Eckankar, Spiritualist, Unitarian-Universalist, Deist, Wiccan, Pagan, Druid, Indian Religion, Santeria, Rastafarian 0.8 1.2 + 0.4
Of those who respond “ None ” to religious preference … Source: Table 7 in Hamilton, R; Form, W. “Categorical usages and complex realities: Race, ethnicity, and religion in the United States.” SOCIAL FORCES , v. 81 issue 3, 2003, p. 693-714. a 1990 - 1994 Believe in G-d Pray Believe in Afterlife 1980-1984 85 79 48 1995-1998 85 a 90 63