The Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life just keeps on dropping bombshell study after bombshell study on the religious attitudes of Americans.
This week, two studies came down: one on the flexibility of Americans’ religious affiliations and another looking at how many people think torture of terror suspects is justifiable, breaking it down by religious denomination and frequency of worship service attendance. The results? Not quite what you might think. (At least, not quite what I thought).
As always, links after the jump:
You can wade through the full findings of the first study, “Faith in Flux: Changes in Religious Affiliation in the U.S.” – although you may want the 9-page executive summary instead of the 75-page report. Its key findings: about half of Americans change faiths, often before age 24, and many change 2 or 3 times. For the media’s take on the findings, check out:
- In matter of faith, Americans show a restless spirit (Philly Inquirer)
- Study examines choice of religion: Spiritual attitudes, not church policy, cited as reasons (Washington Post)
- The Boston Globe asks more bluntly: Why do Americans change their faith?
Arguably, the more though-provoking study is the second, on the justifiability of torture: According to the stats, white evangelical Protestants and people who attend church at least weekly are more likely than the general public to say that torture is often or sometimes justified when dealing with suspected terrorists (mainline Protestants like Lutherans and Episcopalians were least likely).
These stats came out just a day or two ago and are, unsurprisingly, generating press of their own. CNN tried to get a statement from the National Association of Evangelicals, while Beliefnet came out with “Why Christians Support Torture.” I suspect this story will continue to have some legs – we’ll keep an eye on it.
Some unrelated but interesting links for your reading pleasure:
- Tanenbaum’s own Joyce Dubensky on “An Untapped Resource for U.S. Foreign Policy” (Khaleej Times)
- A Q&A with author Reza Aslan on “the intimate link between religion and violence” (Houston Belief)
- A discussion of the place of spirituality and spiritual expression by staff in hospitals over at Religion Dispatches
As always, more in our press center. And with that, I’ll sign off for another week with hopes that the weather is better where you are!