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What Americans believe

Old 06-29-2006, 12:57 AM
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What Americans believe

Basic Christian beliefs

What basic beliefs define a Christian?

Do you believe that….
Man does not earn his way into heaven by good works?
Jesus Christ was without sin?
Satan is real?
The Bible is totally accurate in all that it teaches?

If so, you disagree with a majority of American Christians, according to surveys. Keep in mind that about 57% of Americans identify themselves as Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, or Episcopalians (Catholics are the largest group at 24.5%). And about 15% of Americans aren't Christians.

Only 21 percent of America's Lutherans, 20 percent of the Episcopalians, 18 percent of Methodists, and 22 percent of Presbyterians believe that man does not earn his way to heaven by good works. (By contrast -- Assemblies of God, Pentecostal/Foursquare and non-denominational groups: 60 %)

Christ was without sin? Of Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists, only 33% agree. Episcopalians: 28%.
(Among Baptists, the nondenominational, the Assemblies of God, and the Pentecostal/Foursquare churches, 55, 63, 70 and 73 percent believe that Christ is sinless.)

Is Satan real? The main Protestant church members disagreed by 78 - 83%.
Only one-quarter of Christians overall (27%) strongly believes that Satan is real while a majority argues that he is merely a symbol of evil.

Mormons, whose church's theology differs from that of Protestants and Catholics, aligned themselves with evangelicals and Pentecostals on most issues, especially Christ's sinless being (70 percent). On the other hand, only 15 percent of the Mormons agreed that man was not saved by good work...

Less than half of all Christians (41%) believe the Bible is totally accurate in all it teaches.

Less than one-third of all Christians (32%) believe they have an obligation to share their religious faith, ranging from a high of 73% among Pentecostals to a low of 12% among Episcopalians (Catholics: 17%).

All Barna Research studies define "evangelicals" as individuals who
-- meet the born again criteria;
-- say their faith is very important in their life today;
-- believe they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians;
-- acknowledge the existence of Satan;
-- contend that eternal salvation is possible only through God's grace, not through good deeds; believe that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth;
-- and describe God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today.

In this approach, being classified as an evangelical has no relationship to church affiliation or attendance, nor does it rely upon people describing themselves as "evangelical."

This classification model indicates that only 8% of adults are evangelicals. Barna Research data show that 12% of adults were evangelicals a decade ago, but the number has dropped by a third as Americans continue to reshape their theological views.

About 57% of Americans identify themselves as Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, or Episcopalians (Catholics are the largest group at 24.5%).
Baptists (both types) are about 16%. Other Protestant groups are about 10%.
8.2 % identify themselves as non-religious or agnostic (0.7%).
Just under 2% are Jewish, 2% are Mormon, and 0.8% are Jehovah's Witnesses.
Eastern Orthodox are at about 1%.
Islam and Buddhist are estimated at about 0.5% and 0.4%, respectively.
2 - 5% in any survey are undesignated.

For more information:

http://www.adherents.com/misc/BarnaPoll.html

http://www.adherents.com/rel_USA.html#gallup

Surveys routinely show that about 40% of Americans say that they go to church regularly. That is a higher rate than any 'Western' country except Ireland. Studies of actual behavior put regular church attendance at 20 - 26%. About 8% say they never attend church.
http://www.religioustolerance.org/rel_rate.htm

What this information does for me, as a non-believer, is raise questions about what people mean when they say 'This is a Christian country'. Or, for that matter, when non-believers reply 'no, it's a secular country'. Really, both statements can be true! Demographics point to the former, while our constitutional structure is secular.

It is a country in which most people call themselves Christian (and as an outsider I pretty much take anyone at their word if they say they're Christian). But they clearly don't share common beliefs about what that means and most don't attend church. Only about 8% are evangelicals, and only about 8% are non-believers--but those are the two groups who drive the most passionate debates about moral and church/state issues.

The vast majority of Americans seem to be somewhere in the middle on those issues: reasonably tolerant of other views, and uncomfortable with viewpoints they perceive as extreme. If anything, as one of the article says, they have gradually adopted a theology more akin to the 18th century deism that was common among American political leaders such as Jefferson.


Deism is defined in Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary, 1941, as: "[From Latin Deus, God.Deity] The doctrine or creed of a Deist." And Deist is defined in the same dictionary as: "One who believes in the existence of a God or supreme being but denies revealed religion, basing his belief on the light of nature and reason."
(from: http://www.deism.com/deism_defined.htm)


Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Paine, Voltaire, and Einstein are usually described as deists.
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Old 06-29-2006, 03:06 AM
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Im facinated by religion, and why people believe what Don.
Its cool to have a secular forum here at last.
Im from the Uk and from here the impression we get about the US is that its a pretty religious country...many of the Americans I 'speak' too and have spoken to here seem to just take it as a given that God exists, and their posts are littered with beleivers phrases that seem senseless to me like 'God will never give you more than you can cope with'...I mean tell that to the suicides and sexually abused and people whose kids have been murdered...noone 'copes' with that...but still they seem to believe what seems unbelievable to me, and I wonder what separates us, why some can believe and some cant...Its probably the most facinating subject of all and yet I wonder why your post which seems to spark of so many questions to me has gone unanswered so far..dont know when you posted it? perhaps its because this place is for those in recovery who may have a higer rate of faith? It would be interested to hear more peoples views.

Cheers clanc xx
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Old 06-29-2006, 04:31 AM
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I would say the USA has a Judaeo/Christian foundation.

http://www.aish.com/literacy/jewishh...d_We_Trust.asp
http://www.aish.com/literacy/jewishh...e_Land...-.asp

And completely agree that deism is the stronger belief, though most people don't know what it means.

L'Chaim!
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Old 06-29-2006, 06:10 AM
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why some can believe and some cant
That's a big question that I think years ago I'd have tried to answer too quickly!!

I agree that theere seems far less religion here in the UK - maybe I don't believe because of where I live? Of course it's not so inviting to think like that but I have to acknowledge there must be influencing factors.

Another question that puzzles me is whether conformity creates religious beliefs or beliefs conformity?
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Old 06-29-2006, 06:33 AM
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I always felt that "God made man, man made religion". The two need not be intertwined, but may be so if that is what YOU want to believe. Are all the Christians right? Are the Jews all wrong? How about the Hindus? What about people like the American Indians before the time of Columbus? How can just one group be so right, and all the others get it so wrong? What if God gave the people of a certain time and a certain place the very thing that they would find most acceptable in order to lead a moral life? You know what I mean? Like if 2000 years ago in the mid-east, He gave those people Jesus. And before that, in the far east, He gave those people Budha. And before that, He gave the Egyptians the Sun god. You get the Idea? Maybe it's like you really should believe in SOMETHING, and now that the world has shrunk down to the size of a "global village" we can just pick what ever way we choose to live a moral life. I really don't know, but wouldn't mind having something a little more substantial than just plain "blind faith" to hang my hat on.
These are just my thoughts on the subject, and are in no way ment to deny or confirm what someone else might believe.
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Old 06-29-2006, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by equus
Another question that puzzles me is whether conformity creates religious beliefs or beliefs conformity?
That would imply no conformity without religion, and that's not the case.

Doesn't this place rock?

LOL

J
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Old 06-29-2006, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by bahookie
That would imply no conformity without religion, and that's not the case.

Doesn't this place rock?

LOL

J
True but there are associations.... Larger numbers etc.
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Old 06-29-2006, 09:18 AM
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i know, i was nit-picking

Jane
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Old 06-29-2006, 09:25 AM
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Religion plays a stronger role in the US, I agree. And much of that has to do with the Puritans -- they left England, and came here. We are STILL dealing with laws and customs as a direct result of their influence. Blue laws, for example. No buying alcohol on Sunday. Different hours of store operation on Sunday -- and not too long ago that stores were closed completely, and more as a result of the Puritan heritage.
The work ethic is a result too.
Puritans worked and prayed. And they didn't survive as a group due to the extreme nature of their beliefs. But, the influence is still with us.
Thus the Puritan heritage has influence in our society, and determines ideologies about recovery too. The moral heritage of the "evil" of drinking...is still with us.

Personally, I think what one DOES has moral significance. Not what one is.
(I'll probably get bashed for that one, so, be gentle. )

Shalom!
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Old 06-29-2006, 03:05 PM
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Hey, of course what you do has moral signifigance? Do you mean to God (which God/what is God, if anything??)

I think thats its quite an incredible thing to believe that what you believe is more important than what you do....isnt it?

I know some christians believe that you will only get into heaven if you take shelter one particular God (theirs, J.C) and that you can be a really wonderful individual and still be cast to the wolves...just cos you dont take on the word of their book.
Its insanity to me and I just dont understand (hope im not offending anyone here, dont mean to at all just want to have a good discussion x) how you can figure it....?

There is tons of stuff in christianity that leaves me gaping...like believing the world is so young, 6 thousand years or something, when we have carbon dating and dinosaur bones,believing in adam and eve....Im just so stumped when people say to me they believe that...How? But is so interesting that they do!

If I was going to pick a belief system...I like Karma. Its quite a neat (if brutal) explanation for why kids get murdered and stuff...simple.

They have chosen before this life started, their exit from it.Their suffered a similar fate in another life and know want to make up for it. They only way you can pay back is too be murdered yourself...but not by the govt.(im totally anti capital punishment) Actually when you write it down it seems REALLY harsh and I really hope I dont upset someone (ach,tread carefully clancy) but it does make a sense to me, a logical order...not wretched chaos. I think there is a danger of, if you believed that that certain folk might be less sympathetic to that soul in their life...but with intelligence we could see that it would be the natural order of things....
I think perhaps we each have many lives, the earth is our classroom, and death is like going home at the end of the day...you get to rest awhile then off to school again,each soul progressing at its own pace, and oh yeah of course, wise giudes to work with us, to help us choose the right lessons, the right places to be born the right challenges...and as we become wiser and progress we can work as guides ourselves, maybe not having to incarnate on earth so much(phew!) and more senoir giudes still work with us...eventually we return to the source and disintegrate our individualities...(this bit starts to scare me...ego death!! argh!! im not in a hurry..)become part of the light!

I have this all worked out! That would make a beautiful kind of sense dont you think? When I look at the world one thing jumps out at me...cycles. Big cycles and little ones.they are EVERYWHERE seriously, start looking... the moon, the tides,the seasons, the menstrual cycle...cycles within cycles everywhere...I think there is quite a reasonable chance that we are the same..we bloom and flourish like leaves on a tree, and wither and perish...and then we do it again! and again.and again. Till we come out nicely, so wecan go back to the source..which scares me! arg!

I really liked buddhism for a while...I did 10 days of silence in thailand meditating and contemplating ego death...Oh man...I still dont have any words for what I went through....intense.

Made me very respectful of buddhism.

I of course have no idea what dreams will REALLY come when I have shuffed of this mortal coil....I do hope its not box,worms. ego death! eek as you see im a sissy about ego death.
My darkest suspisions are that it maybe that way and an english woman Dr Susan Blackmore has a horribly convincing argument for that. She's like hey no problem you wont know about it! but I cant contemplate that. Im too immature, not brave enough. Anything but ego death!
Oh wow, ive really gone on...have I lost you all....? hope not I want to see what you guys think about my thoughts....

(just dont freak me out with a convincing argument for box,worms, OK?)

love and hope! clancxx
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Old 06-29-2006, 03:47 PM
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"Homosecular". HAHAHAHAHA! I crack me up!
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Old 06-29-2006, 04:30 PM
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Being a non-christian american in the south, I get beat up and down by the deep seeded religon that jusr pours out of the people around here. It's palpable and makes things very tense for me sometimes, especially since I work in the public eye and have to deal with some very overzealous evangelical christians some times.

My personal views (not as if yall really care, but it's nice to have a forum to espouse them) on religion is simply that all religion is man made and eventually is turned on the people as a method of control. I also believe that every religion does contain some amount of fundemental truth, it's just covered over with human corruption and manipulation. THat fundemental truth that lies in all the different religions and in our collective conscieousness is what I have faith in. All the allegories and metaphores are extremely disposable. It's the truth at the core that I look for. WHich for me right now boils down to: There is some force that controls the underpinnings of life that is quite reticent and ambiguous. There is no way to know if this force is self aware. It is not quantifyable. I believe that this force, what ever it is, resides in all things and it speaks very softly though our collective consciousness with grand subtlety. I see the complexity in nature and know that I will never understand the WHY? but I can see the beauty in it anyway. When I do what I lable as "good" in my life I notice the "good" in the world around me. When I do what I lable as "bad" I notice "bad" in the world around me. Everything is how it is for reasons far beyond my comprehension. My goal in life is to experience as much of it as I can while trying to do the next right thing in front of me and hurt as few other people as possible. There is no way anyone can know what is beyond this life, so I just dismiss it and when I get there I'll know.

So basically I believe "god" is life.

I don't really know how to explain anymore, it's kinda abstract, disjointed and jumpy, but it's what gets me through my life right now iwth a smile on my face most of the time.

later,
blake

P.S.

The best argument I've ever heard against christianity deals with the logical paradox of an all-powerful, all-loving supreme being and the existance of hell.

If god is all-loving and all-powerful then hell could not logically exist since someone that is all-loving and all-powerful would never send you to a place where you would be tormented for all of eternity in thier absence, it's impossible when dealing with absolutes. So if hell and god exist then god could not be either all-loving or all-powerful. You can pick two, but not all three, but christianity is founded on the basis that all 3 are 100% true.....hence, christian dogma=false

Everytime I have went through this little run down with a christian, they just dismiss it......
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Old 06-29-2006, 05:37 PM
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Well, I not sure of the purpose of this thread, to be honest.
However, I can come up with reasons EVERY faith is wrong....
and conversely why they are right too.
It's not a contest.

And I personally refuse to judge ANY faith by the extreme members. All Jews are not Orthodox; all Christians are not evangelicals; all muslims are not terrorists....all the way down the line.

I prefer to think of the whole thing in a metaphore. G*D is at the top of a mountain. There are many different paths up the mountain -- each path represents a different faith. We are all climbing the mountain of Truth.

It works for me. I don't need to bash another idea, or promote my own. We are all fellow travelors searching for Truth. Let's enjoy the journey.

Wishing you all well...
Shalom!
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Old 06-29-2006, 08:11 PM
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The only purpose of this thread was to give some perspective about where secularists, agnostics, etc., stand with respect to the US as a whole. Sort of a frame of reference. Those who are not religious often find themselves defined by those who are. Oftentimes we aren't even speaking the same language.
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Old 06-30-2006, 03:32 AM
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Why does there have to be a Purpose anyhow? Whats wrong with just shootin' the breeze?

We are just hanging out disscussing stuff.Not at school, we not gonna be marked! 'see me, this thread has no purpose!'

Its great to be able to do that and finally have somewherewhere we can say, 'no, Im not a Christian, heres why' I for one have felt like Christians were over represented at SR and we have to be careful not upset them. Of course noone should really nasty damming anyone or being uneccesary but hey I think In a secular forum its the right place to say why we are not christians. I mean if christian want to visit the secular forum this is what they should expect to find, as we expect to find people rhapsodising over J.C in the christian forum. I think they are somewhat deluded, but I wouldnt dream of saying that there, it would be bad mannered, it is their place to rhapsodise!

Here is our place, to share our own Ideas. I really like to hear what people believe and why and share my own ideas.I think its fine if people say, well the trouble with that idea is......thats great, thats discussion and should be championed!

Hey is better than thinking of a cold beer on a summers evening....urk.....
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Old 06-30-2006, 03:34 AM
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Excellent point, Don. And you're right.
Plato talked about the importance of "naming" in the Republic. Those who "name" or identify a person, place or object, have the upper hand.

That's how feminism became a dirty word!
In reality, it's a person -- male or female -- who believes in the political, economic and social equality of the sexes. Today, a feminist is perceived to be a looney hysterical byatch. I could go into the history of the transformation of the language, but, the point is made, I think.

Same with religious or areligous groups. For many years I was agnostic. I dabbled with atheism for a while, until I realized I needed the same type and amount of faith to believe in NO G*D as there is to believe in G*D. Not quite logical, if you ask me!

As a frame of reference, this post serves a valuable purpose. Defining terms in order to communicate ideas is necessary for that communication to happen.

All of us in recovery stand to benefit by "naming" our own personas. As a codie, I recognize and still struggle with this very issue. For too long, I gave up "me" to any and everyone else. Today, with my recovery, I'm learning to be just who I am -- without reference to what others may or may not think. My guess is, that is true with people who have an addiction too.

Shalom!
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Old 06-30-2006, 03:39 AM
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But, Teach and Blake,

Both of your ideas have occurred to me and I think they are good healthy thories for life.
The fundamental trouble with christianity for me is the same as for Blake it it were true....what cold elist system, J.C or burn. Christ sounds a loving man and im sure he would be horrified at some of the stuff thats gone on in his name.
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Old 06-30-2006, 03:44 AM
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All of us in recovery stand to benefit by "naming" our own personas.
I'm a learner - a work in progress!! Aitheist describes a belief that there's no god, it doesn't describe me as a whole person.
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Old 06-30-2006, 09:08 AM
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Clancy;

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply there "had" to be a purpose. I was just wondering where we were going, is all.

I understand your thoughts here about the elitism. But, honestly, the same arguements can be made for just about any religious belief -- in their extreem. The crux of them all is that *we* are right and *you* are wrong....or, as I tell my students, "My god is bigger than your god, and I'll kill you to prove it."
Every religious group I've studied has had a period of being persecuted, and then persecuting others. This is Eastern and Western beliefs.
And it's totally human.

For me, I'm happy to accept the ideas expressed in our US Constitution, (with apologies to our non US members of SR). Freedom of religion. That includes the freedom NOT to believe. And it means to respect others in their beliefs -- just as we want to be respected in ours.

The mountain of Truth has many paths.
And I'm not more right by knocking another down.
I want to enjoy the journey, and to see what I can learn from others on that path up the mountain.

Shalom!
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Old 06-30-2006, 09:10 AM
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Equus,
With due respect, an atheist is a person who doesn't believe in a god of any kind.
And I agree, we are learners too. One word does not describe the total person. Else we'd be pretty shallow.

Shalom!
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